Monday, December 28, 2015

The Pastor as Public Theologian: A Book Review

About The Book:

Many pastors today see themselves primarily as counselors, leaders, and motivators. Yet this often comes at the expense of the fundamental reality of the pastorate as a theological office. The most important role is to be a theologian mediating God to the people. The church needs pastors who can contextualize the Word of God to help their congregations think theologically about all aspects of their lives, such as work, end-of-life decisions, political involvement, and entertainment.

Drawing on the depiction of pastors in the Bible, key figures from church history, and Christian theology, this brief and accessible book offers a clarion call for pastors to serve as public theologians in their congregations and communities. The church needs pastors to read the world in light of Scripture and to direct their congregations in ways of wisdom, shalom, and human flourishing. The Pastor as Public Theologian calls for a paradigm shift in the very idea of what a pastor is and does, setting forth a positive alternative picture.

In addition to pastors, this book will be invaluable to seminary students training to be pastors and to their professors. It includes pastoral reflections on the theological task from twelve working pastors.


You can read an excerpt of this book here, in PDF format

About The Author:

Kevin J. Vanhoozer (PhD, University of Cambridge), one of the leading evangelical theologians in the world, is research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He previously taught at Wheaton College and the University of Edinburgh. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Everyday TheologyThe Drama of DoctrineIs There a Meaning in This Text?, and the award-winningDictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible.

Owen Strachan (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, and is a Fellow with the Center for Pastor Theologians. He is the coauthor of The Essential Edwards Collection and the author ofRisky Gospel.

My Review:

I am not a pastor, but chose to read this book due to the fact that the subject matter. It very much intrigued me and I am so glad that I took the chance on this book. 

Vanhoozer and Strachan do a remarkable job at laying out the role of the pastor as theologian and shepherd of the people. The book is very well organized and I love that there are views and thoughts from a number of well known public pastors. Just look at this table of contents:

PrefaceOwen Strachan and Kevin J. VanhoozerIntroduction: Pastors, Theologians, and Other Public FiguresKevin J. Vanhoozer• Problem: A Lost Vision
• Proposal: The Pastor-Theologian as Peculiar Public Figure
• Prospect: The Ministry of What Is "in Christ"
Pastoral PerspectivesGerald Hiestand--Six Practical Steps toward Being a
Pastor-Theologian
Josh Moody--Seven Ways to Theologize as a Pastor
Part 1: Biblical Theology and Historical Theology
1. Of Prophets, Priests, and Kings: A Brief Biblical Theology of the Pastorate
Owen Strachan• The Ministry of the Old Covenant in the Old Testament
• Participating in Jesus's Ministry of the New Covenant: The New Testament
• Conclusion: The Pastorate as Theological Office
Pastoral PerspectivesMelvin Tinker--The Pastor as Public Theologian
Todd Wilson--Human Origins: A Test Case for
Pastor-Theologians
Jim Samra--A Practical Theology of Technology
2. Of Scholars and Saints: A Brief History of the PastorateOwen Strachan• The Early Church
• The Medieval Period: Scholasticism and Monasticism
• The Reformational Awakening: Protestant Pastors
• Theological Shepherds: The Puritans and the Practicality of Truth
• Agents of "Divine Business": The Edwardseans and Pastoral Dominion
• The Modern Turn: Populism, Professionalism, and the Taming
of the Pastorate
• Glimmers of Hope: Harold Ockenga and Neoevangelical Boldness
• Conclusion: Toward What Pastorate?
Pastoral PerspectivesWesley G. Pastor--How the Theology of Saving Faith Has Affected My Congregation
Kevin DeYoung--A Place for Truth
Part 2: Systematic Theology and Practical Theology
3. In the Evangelical Mood: The Purpose of the Pastor-Theologian
Kevin J. Vanhoozer• The Many Moods of Theology: Between Death and Resurrection
• A Ministry of Reality: Theology in the Indicative Mood
• A Ministry of Understanding: The Diakonia of God's Word
• A Ministry of (New) Life: Theology in the Imperative Mood
• The Goods of Theology: What Are Seminaries For?
Pastoral PerspectivesDavid Gibson--On Death
Bill Kynes--Preaching the Doctrine of the Gospel as Truth,
Goodness, and Beauty
Cornelius Plantinga Jr.--Reading for Preaching
4. Artisans in the House of God: The Practices of the Pastor-TheologianKevin J. Vanhoozer• The Great Pastoral Commission: "Make Disciples"; "Build God's House"
• Evangelist: Presenting What Is in Christ
• Catechist: Teaching What Is in Christ
• Liturgist: Celebrating What Is in Christ
• Apologist: Demonstrating What Is in Christ
Pastoral PerspectivesGuy A. Davies--The Drama of Preaching
Jason B. Hood--The Pastor-Theologian as Pulpit Apologist
Conclusion: Fifty-Five Summary Theses on the Pastor as Public TheologianKevin J. VanhoozerIndexes


This book is full of encouragement and thoughtful insight and wisdom for both active pastors, and those studying to be pastors. It is well written and theologically strong, and very reader friendly. 

I highly recommend this book and give it a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: You can purchase The Pastor as Public Theologian at your favorite Christian book retailer from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group

***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications Inc., for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

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