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  • July 29, 2014 by Gerald Hiestand

    J. Budziszewski’s “The Meaning of Sex”

    On the Meaning of SexIn our most recent (and still only) volume of the Bulletin of Ecclesial Theology, one will find Matthew Lee Anderson’s review of J. Budziszewski’s, The Meaning of Sex. Matthew gave it a positive review, and so I picked up a copy.

    The book is wide-ranging, covering gender, lust, sexual love purity, etc. If you want a review, you can read Matthew’s. All I want to say here is that this is a great, great book. Budziszewski is a proponent of natural law theory, and he deploys it here to great effect. The sanity with which he writes is remarkable. And beyond the content, Budziszewksi is a fantastic wordsmith. Comparable to Lewis when it comes to clarity and the turn of a phrase. Here’s a sample, and then I leave the rest to you–tolle lege!

    “The notion that men and women are identical works against the very equality that it tries to uphold. The same, are they? The same as what? Though with some dissimulation, identicalists almost always answer, ‘The same as men.’ Not only do men who despise women take this line. It is also taken by those so-called feminists who detest everything feminine, regard womanly women as traitors to the cause, and insist on an ideal which is supposedly indifferent to sex, but is actually masculine. From the same root spring those strange male fantasies about worlds of the future in which women lead armies, command starships, gun down enemies, and are ready for sexual intercourse at any moment. The underlying wish is that both sexes would be men, but that some of these men would look like women.” (42-43)

    Categories: Book Reviews | Bulletin of Ecclesial Theology | General | Gerald Hiestand

  • July 23, 2014 by Gerald Hiestand

    Introducing the Fall 2015 CPT Theology Conference — You Pick the Speakers!

    The CPT is thrilled to co-host, along with Zondervan,  its first annual Chicago Theology Conference. The conference will be held in the Fall of 2015 (exact date TBD), and will be centered on the theme of, “The Pastor Theologian: Identity, Vocation, and Possibilities.”   The conference will be paired with the release of our book, The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Paradigm.

    We’re starting to plan for that conference now, dreaming dreams and scheming schemes, but we’d love to get your input as well.

    We’re asking CPT readers to help us develop our speaker invitation list. If you want to have a say in who gets invited to speak, take a moment and pick the “top five” plenary speakers that you’d love to hear talk about the pastor theologian. You can find the list here.

    Pray, fast, ponder deeply. And only on vote per person, please!

    Categories: General | Gerald Hiestand | Pastor-theologian

  • June 30, 2014 by Gerald Hiestand

    Introducing the CPT’s “Bulletin of Ecclesial Theology”


    The Center for Pastor Theologians is happy to announce the launch of our new annual print journal — the Bulletin of Ecclesial Theology.  The essays contained within the Bulletin are drawn from the papers presented at the Center’s bi-annual theological symposia for pastors. As such, each volume of the Bulletin focuses on a single theological theme relevant to ministry and the life of the church.

    Spanning a wide ministry context (rural, urban, small church, mega church)  and the breadth of evangelical denominational affiliations (Baptist, Anglican, Wesleyan, Reformed, Lutheran, Independent, etc.), the majority of our contributors are evangelical theologians and scholars whose primary vocation is pastoral ministry. It is our aim that the Bulletin model robust ecclesial theology — theology that is born out of a parish context and driven by parish questions and concerns.

    In an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible, print copies are available on Amazon. Free digital downloads of each essay are available through the CPT website. See below for information on our first volume.


    In 2013/14 the CPT fellows, led by Dr Peter Leithart of the Trinity House Institute, responded to John Paul II’s teaching on the meaning of the human body, sex, gender, marriage, and singleness in Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body. In a sexually giddy world that is spinning faster and faster out of control, these themes could not be more relevant to pastoral ministry, Christian discipleship, and the mission of our congregations. John Paul’s rich biblical and philosophical explorations provided stimulating conversation, some of the fruits of which are here presented.

    In this first edition of the Bulletin, Christopher Bechtel explores the metaphor of church as body to consider how John Paul’s spousal anthropology might inform our ecclesiology; Gerald Hiestand considers the pressing pastoral issue of sexual boundaries in premarital relationships; Matthew Mason examines what Theology of the Body might have to say on issues of same-sex sexuality and contemporary gender confusions; David Morlan offers some theologically informed exegetical notes on Ephesians 5:22-33; and Owen Strachan expounds a theology of womanhood that pays close attention to the meaning of the female body.

    Print copies of vol. 1.1., 2014 can be purchased on Amazon. Free digital downloads of each essay, as well as the book reviews, are available below.


    Matthew Mason, “Editorial”

    Christopher Bechtel, “Naked Church: A Trinitarian Ecclesiology of the Body”

    Gerald L. Hiestand, “A Biblical-Theological Approach to Premarital Sexual Ethics: Or, What Saint Paul would Say about ‘Making Out’”

    Mathew Mason, “Man and Woman He Created Them: Same-sex Desires, Gender Trouble, and Gay Marriage in the Light of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body”

    David S. Morlan, “Power, Sex and the Self: Notes on Ephesians 5:21-33″

    Owen Strachen, “On Power and Fragility: Reflections of John Paul II’s Theology of Bodily Womanhood”


    Michel Foucault. The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Volume One, Laura Kenna

    Wendell Berry. Jayber Crow, Matthew Mason

    Mark and Grace Driscoll. Real Marriage; Timothy Keller. The Meaning of Marriage; Paul David Tripp. What did You Expect?, David Morlan

    J. Budziszewski. On the Meaning of Sex, Matthew Lee Anderson

    Sarah Coakley. Religion and the Body, Jeremy Mann

    Douglas Sean O’donnell. The Song of Solomon, Jason B. Hood

    Categories: Bulletin of Ecclesial Theology | General | Gerald Hiestand

  • June 6, 2014 by Gerald Hiestand

    CPT Student Dinner and Panel Discussion, July 8th

    CPT Logo Blue ThumbnailLast fall the Center for Pastor Theologians hosted a dinner in Oak Park for an enthusiastic band of graduate students and professors interested in learning more about the Center’s vision. We’re following up that event with a dinner and panel discussion for graduate students, professors, and pastors on the practical steps taken by pastor theologians familiar with the challenges of juggling ministry responsibilities and theological scholarship. Topics discussed will include: managing your schedule to make room for study and writing, communicating the vision to your congregation and lay leaders, sabbaticals, the priority of prayer, continuing education, and more. We’ll have plenty of time for Q&A.

    Our panel will hosted by Jeremy Mann, CPT’s Managing Director, and include three of the pastors from our CPT Fellowships.

    Gerald Hiestand—Gerald is the co-founder and Executive Director of the CPT, and the author of several books and articles. His forthcoming book (written along with CPT co-founder, Todd Wilson) is The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Paradigm (Zondervan, 2015). Gerald serves as the Senior Associate Pastor at Calvary Memorial Church, in Oak Park, IL. Gerald is married with three children, and is a PhD Candidate in Classics and Archeology at the University of Kent, Cantebury.

    Dr. Micahael LeFebvre—Michael is a board member and Fellow of the CPT’s Second Fellowship, and is the author of numerous books and articles. Michael serves as the Senior Pastor of Christ Church in Brownsville, Indiana. His most recent book is Our Triune God: Living in the Love of the Three-in-One (with Phil Ryken; Crossway, 2011). Michael holds a PhD in Old Testament from Aberdeen University in Scotland.

    Dr. Mickey Klink—Mickey is a Fellow of the CPT’s Second Fellowship, and is the author of numerous books and articles. His forthcoming commentary, John (ZECNT 4,  Zondervan, 2015), represents his third major work on John’s gospel. Mickey has recently transitioned from an academic context (Biola) to Rockford Il, where he now serves as the Senior Pastor of Hope Evangelical Free Church. Mickey holds a PhD in New Testament from St. Andrews University.

    Come enjoy a meal, hear from practicing pastor theologians, and connect with others interested in the vision of the CPT. All the pertinent details are below.

    Who: Our target audience is graduate students interested in the CPT’s vision; but all are welcome
    When: July 8th from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
    Calvary Memorial Church, 931 Lake St. Oak Park, IL
    $5 registration fee (covering dinner), due at the event

    To register for this event, please RSVP online. Hope to see you there!

    Categories: General | Gerald Hiestand

  • May 6, 2014 by Gerald Hiestand

    The Pastor Theologian in the Protestant Tradition, Reformation to Enlightenment

    The dawn of the Reformation split the Western church into two traditions—Catholic and Protestant—each of which shows its own unique trajectory regarding the pastor theologian. Based on our reading of the Alexander street collections, the events of the Reformation appear to have had little effect on the ratio of Catholic clerical, non-clerical, and monastic theologians. But the Reformation seems to have funneled Protestant theologians back into the churches in ways not seen in the post-Reformation Catholic tradition. During the two hundred years following the Reformation, clerical theologians within Protestantism once again regain the ascendency over their non-clerical counterparts. Insofar as our primary concern is the pastor theologian in the Protestant tradition, we here focus our comments on the Protestant narrative.

    The Protestant pastoral community was vital in shaping the overall ecclesial and theological direction of the Reformation. Examples of significant and influential clerical theologians abound. Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) was a catholic priest turned Protestant pastor in Zurich, and a chief father of the Reformed tradition; Johann Bugenhagen (1485-1558), though overshadowed by the great Luther, was the pastor at Wittenberg, a church administrator, and a significant theologian in his own right; Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) was the Archbishop of Canterbury and the founding father of the English Protestant church; Jacob Arminius (1560-1609), a theological opponent of Calvin, was a pastor in Amsterdam and founder of the theological system that still bears his name; John Owen (1616-1683) was a renowned preacher and pastor (and later vice chancellor at Oxford) whose works are still read today. And preeminent among the clerical theologians of the Reformation was, of course, John Calvin.

    Calvin was born in 1509, and came of age just as the Reformation was getting underway. Initially dedicated to the study of law in New Orleans, Calvin’s first love was the classics. But soon his reading of Luther and his acquaintance with French reformers shifted his intellectual attention away from Seneca and toward the Bible. Calvin’s association with Nicolas Cop—friend and rector of the University of Paris—resulted in Calvin fleeing France when Cop was brought up on heresy charges for having Lutheran views. Calvin landed in Basel, and from there intended to go to Strasbourg, where he hoped to adopt the quiet life of a scholar. But a war between Charles V and Francis I interrupted his travels and resulted in an unintended layover in Geneva, where he was compelled by the earnest admonitions of William Farel to assist Farel in the reform of Geneva. Calvin reluctantly agreed. But their attempted reforms soon put them at odds with the town council and Calvin was expelled from the city. Yet after three years in Strasburg (where Calvin hoped to once again settle into the quite life of a scholar), Calvin was recalled to Geneva by the council. He returned, and this time he stayed for the remainder of his life, serving as Geneva’s leading pastor and theological authority.[1]

    Calvin’s theological output was significant. Beyond his Institutes of the Christian Religion (his magnum opus) he wrote numerous tracks, as well as commentaries on nearly every book of the Bible. Calvin’s influence stretched beyond Geneva across Europe, and he was considered a leading theologian by those sympathetic to the Reformation. Luther speaks highly of him, and even Jacob Arminius, his theological opponent on the matter of predestination, said of Calvin, “Next to the study of the Scriptures which I earnestly inculcate, I exhort my pupils to peruse Calvin’s Commentaries, which I extol in loftier terms than Helmich himself [a Dutch divine, 1551-1608]; for I affirm that he excels beyond comparison in the interpretation of Scripture, and that his commentaries ought to be more highly valued than all that is handed down to us by the library of the fathers…”[2]

    Yet non-clerical theologians were also significant players in the Reformation tradition. Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560) was an important Wittenberg professor and a systematizer of Luther’s works; Martin Bucer (1491-1551) was a Dominican friar turned reformer who served as an influential ecclesiastical advisor throughout southwest Germany, and then later as a professor at Cambridge; William Tyndale (1494-1536), a client of wealthy patrons, translated the bible into the common vernacular; and George Fox (1624-1691) was an influential (even if controversial) anti-establishment Quaker lay preacher. And certainly Martin Luther, the preeminent theologian of the reformation, demonstrates the influence of non-clerical theologians.

    Luther was not the sole leader of the Protestant Reformation, but his influence can scarcely be overstated. His writings (along with the writings of Erasmus) were a chief catalyst in stirring the ecclesiastical and theological imaginations of sixteenth-century Europe. Luther began as an Augustinian monk at the Erfurt monastery, and was later transferred to the monastery at Wittenberg. Luther moved rapidly through his theological studies and was awarded the doctorate in theology in 1512, whereupon he reluctantly accepted the professorship in Bible. Yet throughout this time Luther was preoccupied by concerns regarding the state of his soul. This internal struggle to find a gracious God led ultimately to a reformulation of Christian soteriology and ecclesiology that sparked the Reformation. Luther’s subsequent conflict with the ecclesiastical authorities involved him in disputations, ecclesiastical trials, official papal condemnations of his person and views, and finally exile. Ultimately, Luther was provided safe haven in Wittenberg, where he continued as professor of Bible, leader of the German Reformation, and founder of Lutheranism.

    Luther’s work as a theologian was the shaping theological influence of the Reformation. His was a pietistic, earnest, and often pugnacious theology. Throughout his career he wrote numerous treatise, commentaries, and books. Above all he sought to return the church and her theology to its biblical roots. Theology for him was a blood earnest endeavor, one that determined the eternal destiny of souls. In his Bondage of the Will—a response to Erasmus, the Catholic humanist and New Testament scholar—Luther chides Erasmus for his delicate manner of writing and his refusal to make assertions. At the conclusion of his works he writes to Erasmus, “That you have failed is clear enough from your saying that you assert nothing, but have ‘made comparisons.’ He who sees to the heart of the matter and properly understands it does not write like that. Now I, in this book of mine, have not ‘made comparisons,’ but have asserted, and do assert; and I do not want judgment to rest with anyone, but I urge all men to submit!”[3] Assert indeed!

    Yet Luther was not solely an academic theologian. While not the pastor of the town church in Wittenberg (a position occupied by his friend Johannes Bugenhagen), Luther’s involvement in ecclesial life was remarkable. He regularly participated in ecclesial disputes, pastoral training, and was a frequent preacher at the town church. Between 1510 and 1546 Luther preached approximately 3,000 sermons to the laity—a preaching schedule more rigorous than most contemporary pastors. As was common in pre-Enlightenment Europe, the worlds of the academy and the church merged together in ways that did not allow for easy separation. As such, Luther’s writing demonstrates a deep acquaintance with the needs of average Christians.[4]

    The examples of Calvin and Luther illustrate the importance of both clerical and non-clerical theologians in the sixteenth and seventeenth-centuries. Yet it is the clerical theologian that seems to have the primacy during this era. An examination of the Digital Library of Classic Protestant Texts reveals that fifty-four percent of the approximately two hundred authors in the collection were clerical theologians, while forty-six percent were non-clerical.[5] Insofar as the Digital Library of Classical Protestant Texts represents a fair cross section of the Protestant tradition in the sixteenth and seventeenth-centuries, clearly the pastoral office was considered a viable vocation for theologians; and many theologians—even the majority of them, it would seem—chose the pastoral office as the best context for their theological scholarship. Perhaps this movement toward the churches can be accounted for by the fact that many theologians who left the Catholic church were likewise compelled to leave the universities (which very often remained Catholic), as well as the monasteries, thus funneling the vocational options of Protestant theologians toward the pastorate. Whatever the cause, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries represent a notable resurgence of the pastor-theologian.

    Yet somewhere between the beginning of the eighteenth-century and the present, the pastor theologian went nearly extinct. The reasons for this demise are no doubt complex. But whatever the exact causes, certainly the Enlightenment played a crucial role. It is to this pivotal moment in the intellectual life of the West that our story now turns.


    [1] For an executive summary of Calvin’s career and theology, see Alexandre Ganoczy, “Calvin, John” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, ed., Hans J. Hillebrand (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996). For a look at John Calvin as pastor and preacher, see John Piper, “The Divine Majesty of the Word,” in The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2000), 115-42.

    [2] Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 8 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952-53), 8:280. XXX

    [3] Luther, Bondage of the Will, sec. clxviii.

    [4] For a concise treatment of Luther’s pastoral duties at Wittenberg and beyond, see John Piper, The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2000) 86-90. See also, Fred W. Meuser, Luther the Preacher (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1983).

    [5] The Catholic tradition however, moves along a different trajectory. In the Digital Library of the Catholic Reformation, the ratios are more strongly in favor of the non-clerical theologian: fifty-one percent were non-clerical theologians, thirty percent were clerical-theologians, and nineteen percent were monastic theologians. Taken together, in both the Catholic and Protestant Tradition, forty-eight percent of the theologians represented in the two Alexander Street collections were non-clerical theologians, forty-four percent were clerical theologians, and eight percent were monastic theologians.

    Categories: General | Gerald Hiestand | Pastor-theologian

  • April 20, 2014 by Gerald Hiestand

    Happy Easter, from Virgil

    “Easy the way down to Avernus; night and day the gates of Dis [the underworld]  stand open. But to retrace your steps and reach the upper air — here lies the task.”
    Virgil, The Aeneid, 6.60.

    Categories: General | Gerald Hiestand | Resurrection

  • April 19, 2014 by Gerald Hiestand

    The Father’s Grief and the Rent Veil

    There are many striking things about the Synoptic accounts of Christ’s crucifixion and death, but I would draw our attention to one in particular: the rending of the temple veil. All three Synoptic writers record it, noting explicitly that it was torn in two from top to bottom.

    The author of Hebrews (chapter 9) indicates that the presence of the curtain was a sign that free access to God was not available under the Old Covenant. And thus the rending of the curtain was clearly a sign that through the atoning death of Christ, the way to God was now open. What had been lost in the Garden had been regained on the cross. But why torn?

    In the book of Exodus, the instructions regarding the fabrication of the tabernacle curtains are closely tied to the instructions regarding the fabrication of the priestly garments.[1] What’s more, the garments of the High priest and the curtains of the temple are made from the same material—fine twisted linen with blue, purple and scarlet yarn.[2]  Through the provision of the Law, the tabernacle was the new dwelling place of God upon the earth. And in a very real sense, the curtains surrounding the tabernacle, and most especially the curtain that closed off the Ark of the Covenant, were much like the garments of God. In the same way that the clothing of the priest was sanctified and holy, covering the priest, so too the clothing of God was sanctified and holy, covering his presence.

    And notably, the high priest is specifically told that he must not tear his garments at the death of a relative, a customary sign of grief among the ancient peoples.  The reason for this prohibition is not given in the text, but certainly the fact that the clothing of the High Priest was sanctified, and of the same kind as that with which God himself was clothed, has some relevance.

    And it is here, I think, that we understand the tearing of the temple curtain. Our heavenly Father does not love less than a human father, but more. His love is deeper, infinite, without bounds—not hemmed in by human frailty and weakness. And how his heart must have grieved to see the racked and broken body of his Son, pinned to the cruel and cursed tree. And so as his Son breathes his last, and the heart of God breaks, the divine robe is rent in two from top to bottom.[3] What God had forbidden the High Priest to do, he himself now does. How great and awful the death of the Son of the God—not only to the Son, but to the Father.[4]

    The tearing of the temple curtain was indeed an indication that the way into the Father’s presence had been opened. But the rending of the garment of God also reminds us that the way to life came at a great price, and through great anguish—an anguish that God himself endured. The unthinkable, the unimaginable, had happened. The eternal Son died, and the Eternal Father grieved. [5]

    [1] Exodus 26-27 provides detailed instruction regarding the fabrication and the hanging of the curtains; Exodus 28, immediately following, provides detailed instruction regarding the fabrication of the priestly garments.

    [2] See Exodus 39:1 “From the blue and purple and scarlet yarns they made finely woven garments, for ministering in the Holy Place. They made the holy garments for Aaron, as the LORD had commanded Moses.” C.f., with Exodus 26:31, “And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it.”

    [3] In the rending of the curtain, one hears echos of Elisha’s tearing of his robe at the departure of Elijah in 2 Kings 2:12. The LXX reads the same as the Synoptic accounts of the curtain: both the veil and Elisha’s robe are torn εἰς δύο (in two); what’s more robes were always torn from top to bottom.

    [4] Theological paradigms that resist ascribing grief (or emotions, generally) to the Father are too beholding to Greek notions of impassibility (e.g., Origen De Principiis, 2.4.4; Tertullian, The Shows, 15-16; etc.), or strong Calvinistic notions of sovereignty. The Scriptures ascribe emotions to God all throughout the biblical narrative, and attempts to anthropomorphize such accounts fail to do justice to the plain reading of the text. Beyond the questionable hermeneutics, such accounts lead to the sort of existential and pastoral confusion one sees in Augustine when he attempts to suppress his grief at the death of Monica (Confessions, 9.12). Ultimately, grief is a necessary and appropriate aspect of love. To deny the Father his grief for the Son, is to deny the Father his love.

    [5] I am indebted to my oldest son for the above interpretation of the temple veil, who eight years old at the time, suggested to me during evening devotions that the tearing of the temple veil was a sign of the Father’s grief.

    Categories: General | Gerald Hiestand

  • April 8, 2014 by Gerald Hiestand

    Paul’s Argument in Romans and Galatians is Anti-Pelagian, Even if not Explicitly So

    Paul’s argument throughout Galatians and Romans is explicitly against “justification by the Mosaic Law”, and only implicitly against “justification by good works.” This is an important difference. Paul’s main burden is to make it clear that the Gentiles can come into the blessing of Abraham on equal footing as the Jews, since it is faith, and not the Law of Moses (which only Jews possess), that serves as the agent of justification. To establish the fact that justification is by faith and not by works, however true this may be, would not accomplish Paul’s ecclesial aims; he needs to make it clear that the Jewish Law is not the agent of justification. Thus Paul’s pastoral burden is not primarily to establish the general soteriological truth — however much he agrees with it — that justification is not by good works. He must make it clear that the full blessing of God comes apart from the Law of Moses.

    While Paul’s beef is not against Pelagianism generally, his polemic against the Law as an agent of justification nonetheless offers us ample resources for constructing an anti-Pelagian soteriology. If the good works contained within the Law of Moses can’t justify us, how much less can any good work — Jewish or not — justify us.  And indeed, the position of the Judaizers is Pelagian, or at least semi-Pelagian, in that their whole positions fails to take seriously the damning effects of sin and the curse. Obedience can never overcome the curse of death — whether obedience to the Law of Mose or any other law. Even perfect obedience to the Jewish Law cannot overcome the curse of death (see Phil 3:6 where Paul says he was blameless with respect the righteousness of the Law). As Paul labors to show, if the Judaizers truly understood what the Law has to say about our internal corruption, they would see that the Law can never be the solution to sin. The Law typologically and prophetically points to our salvation in Christ, but cannot itself provide salvation.

    Here Paul comes very close to Augustine’s polemic against Pelagius. Augustine and Pelagius both agreed that good works merit eternal life; but Augustine’s beef with Pelagius was that Pelagius did not properly account for the damning effects of sin and the curse, and thus thought that he could secure good works apart from grace. Thus the NPP is correct that anti-Pelagianism is not the primary concern of Paul’s doctrine of justification, but it is incorrect when it insists that Paul’s argument is not an anti-pelagian one. Or to state it again, in so far as Paul’s opponents had a deficient doctrine of sin and culpability, their soteriological system was basically proto-Pelagian.

    Paul’s use of an anti-pelgaian logic as a pen-ultimate logic throughout Romans and Galatians shows that the traditional Lutheran/Reformed doctrine of justification, while not perhaps an exact reproduction of Paul’s doctrine, is nonetheless in harmony with Paul. Paul may not be fighting quite the same fight as were the Reformers, but the weapons he deploys against the Judaizers are equally suited for, and appropriately used against, the Pelagianism of Medieval Christendom.

    Categories: General | Gerald Hiestand

  • February 21, 2014 by Gerald Hiestand

    Of Pastors, Professors, and Social Location

    Here are the introductory paragraphs for the second chapter of our book, The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting a Forgotten Paradigm. The chapter  lays out three basic challenges that have emerged as a consequence of the transition of theologians from the churches to the academy. The rest of the chapter develops these points more fully, of course. But on first glance, how do they strike you? Push back and comments are welcome.

    In the previous chapter we charted the demise of the pastor theologian. But what difference has this demise made, really? Does it matter, in the end, where our theologians reside? Certainly evangelicalism is blessed with many faithful academic theologians. Perhaps the best way forward is to make peace with the demise of the pastor theologian and just get on with it. Or perhaps not. The careful work of our academic theologians has been a blessing to the church. But the near universal migration of Christian theologians away from the pastorate into the academy has, we believe, resulted in at least three difficulties for contemporary evangelical theology.

    First, the questions being addressed in the academy, legitimate as they may be, are not always the same questions being asked by pastors on the ground. Pastors and professors do not occupy the same vocational worlds; as such, they are faced with different vocational pressures and needs. The migration of Christian intellectuals into the academy and away from the pastorate has resulted is a dearth of theologians available to answer distinctly ecclesial questions from distinctly ecclesial vantage points. This has given rise to the proverbial and long lamented “gap” between the academy and the church.

    Second, evangelical theology, insofar as it is now almost an entirely academic enterprise, is often constrained by guild specific rules that frequently discourage theological engagement on explicitly Christian matters. At their founding, the universities were shaped by a Christian framework that informed the vocational ethos of the schools and made ample room for doxological and ecclesiological projects. But in the wake of modernity, the larger university context is no longer—in the main—a hospitable home for evangelical Christian belief (or even orthodox belief, generally). This has tended to push much of evangelical theology into an apologetically constrained and pastorally muted posture. This is especially true in the fields of church history and biblical studies, but can also be seen in theology proper.

    Third, and most significantly, the migration of Christian theologians away from the church has often led to the mistaken assumption (by both church and academy) that the theological leaders of the church are academics. But the rise of the academic theologian has not meant that pastors no longer provide the bulk of the church’s theological leadership; it only means that we have forgotten we are doing so. Pastors remain the most theologically influential figures in the church (whether they realize it or not), and attempts to delegate this responsibility to the academy are not only inappropriate, but actually harmful.

    These challenges are not insurmountable. At root, the problem does not lie with the academy or our academic theologians. The church has been blessed, and will continue to be blessed, by faithful academic scholars. The problem is not that we have academic theologians; the problem is that we no longer have pastor theologians. In the present chapter we explore these three challenges, and show how the pastor theologian has a vital role to play in renewing evangelical theology.

    Categories: General | Gerald Hiestand | Pastor-theologian

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  • February 18, 2014 by Gerald Hiestand

    Women and Representation, Pastors and Representation

    Alastair Roberts has a written a thoughtful piece on the issue of women and representation, asking a number of important questions in light of the fact that our list of the top sixty evangelical theologians included only one woman. It’s a wide ranging piece, and so I won’t try to summarize it here. But it’s worth reading, especially if this is an important issue to you.

    I’d also be keen to see the same sort of analysis done with respect to pastors and representation. Does it matter that very few pastors made our list of evangelicalism’s top sixty theologians? Given that the historical precedent is the reverse, what effect has this had on evangelical theology? On the church? On the pastoral vocation? What has been gained by moving nearly all of our theologians out of the pastorate and into the academy? What has been lost? Does the social location of a theologian — in this case the academy or the church — make much of a difference on a theologian’s overall project?

    I’d love to hear your comments in the comment section, or would be happy to post a link to your blog if you wrote a longer essay…


    Categories: General | Gerald Hiestand