The Shape of Practical Theology: Empowering Ministry with Theological Praxis, By Ray S. Anderson

The Shape of Practical Theology

Empowering Ministry with Theological Praxis

by Ray S. Anderson

The Shape of Practical Theology
  • Length: 342 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: January 31, 2001
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 1559
  • ISBN: 9780830815593

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Too often in the life of the church, theological reflection and the practical matters of leading and serving have been considered independently. The result has been the impoverishment of both Christian faith and Christian practice.

In this groundbreaking book Ray Anderson reflects theologically and practically on preaching, worship, ethics, social justice, therapy, family, homosexuality, burnout in ministry, reconciliation in relationships and theological education itself. The result is The Shape of Practical Theology, a new and renewing foundation for engaging in Christian ministry.

Anderson lays out his threefold goal as follows:

  • to define more clearly the shape of practical theology as truly a theological enterprise rather than mere mastery of skills and methods
  • to demonstrate the praxis of practical theology as critical engagement with the interface between the word of God as revealed through Scripture and the work of God taking place in and through the church in the world
  • to deal with practical pastoral theology from the perspective of those who are on the "field of play" of life and ministry, where preaching, counseling and teaching does affect for many persons the outcome of the game

Illuminated by stimulating discussion and helpful case studies, The Shape of Practical Theology is aimed at seminary students, at Christian educators, and at working pastors and counselors. Anderson's work, fascinating and fruitful, brings together the Word of God with the Spirit of God in the ever-changing context of real-life ministry.

"This is exactly the kind of book my students are thirsting to read. Anderson faces the real theological issues such as postmodernism, the nature of a 'praxis' theology, theological hermeneutics and theological anthropology as well as crucial ministerial concerns such as clergy burnout, homosexuality, forgiveness, the nature of Christian counseling and ministry to the family."

Christian D. Kettler, Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Friends University (Witchita, Kansas)

"This book represents a constructive step forward in understanding the relationship between practical and dogmatic theology. Anderson offers important insights which draw the discipline beyond its more formal descriptions into a distinctively trinitarian formulation. Those who teach in this area will find in his fresh and exciting proposals for the practice of ministry a welcome resource."

Michael Jinkins, Professor of Pastoral Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

"Theology lives; it really does. Ray Anderson persuades and convinces us. He takes us on--pastors and teachers are his target--insisting that until theology lives in us, in our words and actions and prayers, it cannot rightly be called theology. He boldly gathers the large and complex world of Christian ministry and shows how it becomes a lived response to the Holy Spirit's action among us."

Eugene H. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Regent College (Vancouver, British Columbia)

"Anderson has written a hard-hitting Christocentric interpretation of practical theology, which that field badly needs. Case after case he marks out a sensitive, sophisticated, biblical and theological approach to concrete ministerial situations. The approach behind this book has the potential to revitalize ministry at all levels of the Christian life."

James E. Loder, Mary D. Synnott Professor of the Philosophy of Christian Education, Princeton Theological Seminary



Part 1: The Shape of Practical Theology
1. Introduction to Practical Theology
2. The Discipline of Practical Theology
3. A Trinitarian Model of Practical Theology
4. Practical Theology as Christopraxis: Hermeneutical Implications
5. A Practical Theology of Ministry

Part 2: The Praxis of Practical Theology
6. The Resurrection of Jesus as Hermeneutical Criterion
7. The Praxis of the Spirit a Theology of Liberation
8. The Church Its Ministry; The Latreia of Christ
9. The Concept of Neighbor in the Ethics of Karl Barth
10. Sociocultural Implications of a Christian Perception of Humanity
11. The Humanity of God the Soul of the City: Where Is the Church?

Part 3: Practical Pastoral Theology
12. Practical Theology as Paraclesis: Pastoral Implications
13. Theological Ethics Pastoral Care
14. The Kingdom of God as Therapeutic Context
15. The Church's Mission to the Family in a Postmodern Culture
16. Homosexuality: Theological Pastoral Considerations
17. Clergy Burnout as a Symptom of Theological Anemia
18. A Practical Theology of Forgiveness: A Journey Toward Reconciliation Healing
19. The Little Man on the Cross: Where Is God When We Suffer?
20. Memo to Theological Educators: A Proposal


Index of Subjects

Index of Names


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Ray S. Anderson

Ray S. Anderson (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh) is senior professor of theology and ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He has written many books, including Judas and Jesus: Amazing Grace for the Wounded Soul, The Soul of God: A Theological Memoir and The Shape of Practical Theology: Empowering Ministry with Theological Praxis.