In the latest issue of ExpT there is a very good article by Gerald Hiestand on A Taxonomy of the Pastor-Theologian: Why PhD Students Should Consider the Pastorate as the Context for Their Theological Scholarship. The blurb reads:
The bifurcation of theological scholarship from pastoral ministry has led to a twofold problem in contemporary church/academy relations: the theological anemia of the church, and the ecclesial anemia of theology. This essay explores these twin problems and suggests that the way forward in bridging the gap between academy and church is to reunite the pastoral vocation with the vocation of the theologian. Toward this end, the essay offers a taxonomy of three contemporary models of the pastor-theologian, examining the strengths and limitations of each. Ultimately, the paper calls for a resurrection of an all but extinct, yet historically rooted model of the pastorate—the pastor as ecclesial theologian, and challenges the emerging generations of theologians to consider the pastorate as a viable context for their future theological scholarship.
Now you know why I have been wanting to subscribe to the Expository TImes for a while now. :-)
Bird goes on to say:
When theology moved out from the church to the academy, the result was that “the theological water level within the pastoral community … fell considerably.” But not only that, the church became theologically anemic and theology itself became ecclesially anemic. Hiestand argues that we need more capable theologian-types in our churches. “More theologians in our pulpits will deepen the theological integrity of our churches, while at the same time add an ecclesial voice to evangelical theology.” He maintains that the theological integrity of the gospel in the Christian community will never rise above the level of her pastors and ecclesial theologians are best situated to produce ecclesially sensible, field-tested, theological work that deepens the faith and depth of the church.
I think this is exactly right, and I think it is also sorely needed in Pentecostal churches – all too many Pentecostal churches are in dire need of “contextual pastoral theologians” (as the program at Northern Seminary describes it). Our movement is still young and developing. By way and support of the Holy Spirit we need the help of trained theologians to guide Pentecostalism along the way, to prevent “theological anemia” in Pentecostal theology and praxis.
Now, here is what I want to say – this obviously is not for everyone. This is not saying all pastors need to do this, but there is need for more. Not all would be able to anyways, nor should they feel obligated to it or be made to feel lessor for a lack of it. Instead, we need to do better to recognize the giftings of all and the contributions all can bring to the church, the body of Christ. In many a Pentecostal church, even a basic MA is WAY TOO MUCH education. But as I see it, it shouldn’t matter. There can be equality without having to have everyone at the same educational level. This is where things get weird. What might be normal in other circles is an oddity in Pentecostal circles. But I think times are a changin’. Younger folks see the value of theological education and are going for it. I think we’ll start to see things mature and develop theologically in Pentecostalism as more young people are getting good theological education in preparation for ministry.
So this is not mean to say all need to do this, or many more should, but I do think there is need for it!