9 Quotes from ‘The Pastor-Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision’ by Hiestand and Wilson

I completed Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson excellent (and encouraging) volume The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision about The Pastor Theologiansix months ago. If you are a pastor, I strongly recommend that you acquire and read this book. Below are my favorite quotes.

Pastors are the Theologians of the Church: Despite assumptions to the contrary, the pastoral office remains the burden of the church’s theological leadership, regardless of the vocational context of professional theologians and scholars. Or to say it again, the burden of maintaining the theological and ethical integrity of the people of God is inevitably linked to an office within the church, not to a group of people with intellectual gifting. Insofar as pastors bear the day-to-day burden of teaching and leading God’s people, they simply are the theological leaders of the church. As goes the pastoral community, so goes the church (57).

Church is the Home of Theology: The native home of theology is the church, and the responsibility of the church’s theological leadership lies with the pastoral community (77).

The Value of Ecclesial Theological Projects: The ecclesial theologian frames up, in very clear terms, the ecclesial stakes of [an academic] project (91).

The Nature of Ecclesial Theological Projects: [Eduard] Thurneysen demonstrates a robust grasp of his contemporary theological discussion partners. But his work does not show a preoccupation with the secondary literature or an acute need to forestall the critiques of other scholars (93).

The Need for Generalists: But without generalist accounts, specialists lose their ability to adequate interpret their own narrow data against the backdrop of the whole; the forest is lost for the trees (96).

The Freedom of the Generalist: Without the pressure of academic guilds, ecclesial theologians have more freedom to engage the cross-guild projects that are explicitly generalist, and thus more readily theological and pastoral (97).

The Necessity of Theological Study for the Pastor: Whether he is an ecclesial theologian or not, theological study isn’t something a pastor fits into his schedule when he’s completed his pastoral duties; it is part and parcel of his pastoral duties (111).

The Testimony of a Pastor-Theologian on the Use of Time and Productivity: “Of course the single greatest challenge is time. There is not enough! This will always be the most significant constraint on the work of an ecclesial theologian. It means I need to be highly efficient in the ways I use my time. It means I have to learn to be content with producing less work more slowly. And it means I have to resist the temptation to rush” (119).

Theology Serves the Church: Theology serves the church, not the other way around; she’s a hand-maiden, not a god. If in a pastor’s quest to serve the church universal he neglects the church local, those to whom he has a very concrete commitment, then one ought to wonder if he is really serve the church at all. Besides, all our scholarship ought to drive us deeper into our love for god and his people. If it’s not, then what are we really studying for (122)?

Photo by Stephen Radford on Unsplash

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