The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology

The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology

The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology

The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology

Synopsis

Through a series of essays contributed by leading experts in the field, The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology presents an introduction to practical theology as a major area of Christian study and practice, including an overview of its key developments, themes, methods, and future directions.
  • The first comprehensive reference work to provide a survey, description and analysis of practical theology as an area of study
  • A range of leading scholars in the field provide original contributions on the major areas, issues, and figures in practical theology
  • Reviews an extensive range of methods for studying theology in practice, along with sub-disciplines in theological education such as pastoral care and preaching
  • Covers developments in the discipline in a range of global contexts and distinct Christian traditions
  • Shows how practical theology is relevant to everyday life

Excerpt

The main intent of The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology is to review and appraise practical theology as a major area of Christian study and practice. As with other books in the Wiley-Blackwell Companions series, it provides an introduction to and an overview of key developments, themes, methods, and future directions. More particular to practical theology, it reflects the substantial intellectual and institutional growth of the last half-century. In short, the book hopes to organize, scrutinize, and advance a burgeoning area of study and practice.

Intellectual and Institutional Developments

The chance to produce a reference guide to practical theology comes at an opportune time. In the 1950s and 1960s, scholars in the study of theology and religion began to challenge a structure of theological knowing particular to modernity that restricted practical theology to the application of doctrine to pastoral situations (e.g., Hiltner 1948; Boisen 1971; see also Gerkin 1984). Since then, fresh conceptions of practical theology have grown to such an extent that there is a serious need to clarify its emerging uses and contributions.

Several factors have fostered this growth. Among the intellectual developments in the academy at large, early twentieth-century psychology demonstrated the value of close study of the “living human document” as a valid “text” for theological study, comparable to traditional texts of scripture and doctrine. Education in professions such as medicine, nursing, and social work underscored the role of supervised clinical experience and case studies in learning. Growth in other social sciences, such as sociology and anthropology, confirmed the value of fieldwork and offered new empirical means to study social problems, culminating most recently in the widespread use of ethnography by scholars in many disciplines. These social sciences provided not only . . .

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