Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Office of the Pastor-Theologian

Dr. Edward Klink III (Photo: Hope Evangelical Free Church)

This post continues our series on pastor-theologians. Previous posts featured contributions from Dr.Joey Sherrard and Gerald Hiestand.

Dr. Edward (Mickey) Klink completed his PhD at St. Mary’s College in the University of St Andrews in 2005. After serving for nearly a decade as an Associate Professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University in southern California, he has served since 2014 as the Senior Pastor of Hope Evangelical Free Church in Roscoe, IL. His published works include The Sheep of the Fold: The Audience and Origin of the Gospel of John (Cambridge, 2007), The Audience of the Gospels: The Origin and Function of the Gospels in Early Christianity (editor; T. & T. Clark, 2010), Understanding Biblical Theology: A Comparison of Theory and Practice (with Darian R. Lockett;  Zondervan, 2012), and John in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series (Zondervan, 2016). Mickey has been married to Laura since 1999, and they have three children: Jacob, Benjamin, and Ruth. He is a Fellow at the Center for Pastor Theologians.


As a student of Scripture and theology, as well as a Christian and member of the church, I live in the tension between the academy and the church. Although I did not know it when I first began my studies, the two had long since divorced and were raising me in separate homes. Both welcomed God, Scripture and even faith, but both defined and appropriated them in very different ways. Speaking generally, the church’s home defines God under the category of devotion. Christianity is lived, practical, and reflective of the heart, at least in my American evangelical, pietistic context. The academy’s home, in contrast, defines God under the category of doctrine. Christianity is learned, principled, and reflective of the mind, as least in the more historical, scientific context in which I was trained. Both homes are welcoming and helpful in what they emphasize, but neither are intended to function separately, nor raise children as single parents.

Historians of my tradition would describe my summary above in much more technical terms, explaining, for example, how the influence of revivalism and pragmatism and its preference for orthopraxy pressured an undesirable minimization of orthodoxy. But however it is explained, the divorce between the church and the academy is real and has produced numerous negative side effects. In the academy, especially the sub-discipline of biblical studies, for example, the parts of the Bible, even the big parts like the Old and New Testaments, are often disallowed to be studied cooperatively, or at least not without permissions and restraints. Theology is often viewed as an imposition on the biblical text, or at least something to be contained by the more important tutors of history and sociology. Much of the reverse is true in the church, where there is almost an allergy to words like doctrine or exegesis, and practices that do not address felt needs and personal circumstances are often viewed as irrelevant if not inappropriate. The result of this divorce and division of labor has been an ecclesially illiterate academy and a theologically illiterate church. And in the church, God’s primary ministering agent in the world, the result seems even more disastrous.

My categories for all of this were deeply formed by my participation in the Scripture and Theology seminar at St. Mary’s College as a postgraduate. The seminar was directed by Professor Christopher Seitz and Professor Mark Elliott, who with the help of several other staff members created one of the most deeply engaging learning environments of my intellectual life. It was in seminar room one that I saw most clearly the massive chasm between the academy and the church, and yet the necessary overlap between their tasks. I saw how each – the academy and the church – had a role to play in reading “Scripture” (a term more comfortable in the church) and theological “research” (a term more comfortable in the academy), and yet neither could (or can) fully do the task. As a theological student with gifting that aligned with the academy and passions that aligned with the church, I felt at home in both, but therefore in neither also.

Since those days in seminar room one I have returned home and held both “offices” that the institutions of the academy and the church have established for their purpose and mission: the professor and the pastor. Each “office” is a necessary component in the contemporary study and practice of Christianity and theology – one grounded in the wisdom of men and women of old, the other commanded by the Word of God itself. Yet I cannot help but wonder if another kind of “office” is needed, one that stands between the offices of the professor and pastor, bridging them where they are divided and yet rebuking them where they stand independent or incomplete. Could there be such an office, “the office of the pastor-theologian?” This pastor-theologian would be a true shepherd of a local church, and yet a theologian for the church at large. It is in the symbiosis of the two that both become true to themselves. This office of the pastor-theologian would not just unite the offices of the professor and the pastor, but provide the necessary repair to them both. The use of a hyphen for “pastor-theologian” implies that this pastor is (and must be) a theologian, and equally that this theologian is (and must be) a pastor. The pastor-theologian is not non-tenure-track adjunct who pastors simply to support their family, nor a professor who serves part-time (usually as a teacher) in their church. The pastor-theologian is its own office, a shepherd-scholar of sorts, whose social location and ministerial work reinforces their task as both a pastor and a theologian. The scholarly work of the pastor-theologian, as much as it would have similarities with the academic scholar, would have numerous differences, maybe most notably in permissions and perspective of its exegetical practices, but that conversation is for another time.

To be honest, I do not think the pastor-theologian can reside primarily in the academy; I believe only the church, that is, only the office of the pastor, in the historical sense of the term, can handle the office of the pastor-theologian. This is not to say that the social location of the contemporary church defines the pastor-theologian, nor that the current trajectory of such a social location supports this kind of office. For I do not think most churches are able to support (or even understand?) this office, or most pastors are able to perform (or even desire) its duties. A pastor-theologian must reside in the church, but they need to have the training that currently only the academy currently provides. It is my hope that the office of the pastor-theologian becomes not merely a concept but a course of action for the student of Scripture and theology – even more importantly, for the church itself.

Announcement of Prof. Dr. Christoph Schwöbel

The School is delighted to announce that Prof. Dr. Christoph Schwöbel will take our vacant Chair in Divinity in September 2018.

Prof. Schwöbel is presently Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Tübingen, where he has been since 2004; prior to that he held the chair in Systematic Theology and Ecumenical Theology in Heidelberg. He is the author of six monographs and editor of twenty two academic volumes, and he has also published approximately two hundred articles in academic journals or scholarly essays in books.

Alongside his research publications, Prof. Schwöbel has served the academy and the church with great distinction through his career. He has served on many significant academic committees in Germany, and chaired the Wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft für Theologie 2008-11. He has a particular commitment to engaging in dialogue with theologians from Asia, and is a founding member of the East-West Theological Forums. He has been editor of the Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie since 2007, and is on the editorial boards of several other leading journals.

In the ecclesial realm, Prof. Schwöbel’s contributions to ecumenical discussion in particular have been immense. He was a member of the Leuenberg Fellowship 1989-1994, and drafted its influential statement, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ’; and he co-chaired the Meissen Conference 2004-2010. More recently, he has been very influential in developing Christian-Muslim dialogue in Germany.

He will be joined in St Andrews by his wife Katrin Bosse, who will take an Associate Lectureship in the School, teaching in the areas of systematic theology and the theology of religions.

Head of School, Steve Holmes, said, ‘We are delighted to welcome Christoph and Katrin to the School, and greatly look forward to working with them over the next years. By any estimation Christoph is one of the leading systematic theologians in the world today, and his arrival in St Andrews continues and strengthens our commitment to being amongst the best in the world in that area. Katrin will help us in our ambition to develop new programmes in religious literacy, helping the School to respond to changes in the cultural context we serve.’

(Enquiries from prospective doctoral students who would like to study with Prof. Schwöbel should be directed to the School postgraduate secretary. Prof. Schwoebel will also take a leading role in our MLitt in Systematic & Historical Theology, for which applications open this week.)

A Journey Through Lent in Monastic Company

Dr. William Hyland

This semester, Dr. William Hyland, Lecturer in Church History at St. Mary’s College, will offer a series of blog posts on monastic spirituality. They originate from a series of lectures he delivered at All Saints Church in St. Andrews. We are grateful for the many ways in which Dr. Hyland contributes to our academic community, and we appreciate his expertise in this area. This first post serves as his introduction to the series.


This past Lent on five consecutive Thursdays I gave a series of talks at All Saints Church in St Andrews on how aspects of monastic spirituality could possibly be helpful for Christians who are living in the world. To do so I drew upon writers from the Benedictine tradition, but also many other writers, male and female, from the wider monastic tradition of East and West from the patristic era through the late twentieth century. In each talk, accompanied by visual imagery, I tried to illustrate the various points through quotations from various monastic spiritual teachers, and relevant imagery.

The first talk was entitled The Benedictine Way of Attentiveness. Here I pointed out many similarities between Benedictine and Anglican approaches to holiness.  After an overview of monastic history before the sixth century Benedictine Rule, I focused on the balance in the latter between 3 aspects of prayerful attentiveness that made up each day in the monastery: liturgical prayer, manual labor, and spiritual reading. If all of these activities are approached in a prayerful way, they help cultivate an awareness of the presence and transforming power of God in each moment and in the everyday tasks of life. I also discussed how the vows of the Benedictine life, namely stability, obedience and lifelong conversion of life, can be very helpful when creatively applied in a lay context.

The second talk, entitled Lectio Divina: Praying with Scripture, was concerned with some of the ways and methods that characterize the use of Scripture for private prayer in the monastic tradition.  One method discussed was that taught by John Cassian in the fifth century, which he in turn had learned from the Desert Fathers. As discussed in the ninth and tenth books of his Conferences, it involves the frequent repetition of a single verse from Scripture, Psalm 70:1, “O God come to my assistance, O Lord, make speed to help me.” By giving oneself over to what Cassian calls ‘the poverty of the verse”, we gradually allow the Holy Spirit to teach us how to pray, and to let prayer permeate our whole life in this way. I then went on to discuss the quintessential monastic prayer known as lectio divina, or sacred reading. This ancient practice was discussed in its definitive form by the twelfth-century Carthusian monk Guigo, where he describes the four stages of praying with a passage from Scripture as Reading, Meditation, Prayer and Contemplation.

The importance of Scriptural prayer for growth in the spiritual life was carried over into the next talk entitled Overcoming the False of Shadow Self. This talk examined how a twentieth century Cistercian monk, Thomas Merton, discussed the role of the Psalms and all Scripture in helping the Christian to develop authentic ways of self-examination, and also to allow the God who is Love to speak to us through the Scriptures and transform all of our relationships, with God and one another. After discussing Merton, I showed how what Merton expressed in a modern idiom for his twentieth-century audience had deep roots in the psychology and spiritual teachings of his great twelfth-century Cistercian forebears, particularly Bernard of Clairvaux, William of St Thierry,  and Aelred of Rievaulx.

The fourth talk was entitled Sacrifice. First of all, it examined the various ways that liturgical prayer, particularly the Divine Office, has been described as a “sacrifice of praise.” I then discussed the ways that the monastic tradition, including St Augustine, has brought out the rich aspects of how our own lives can be joined to the Sacrifice of Christ. I then discussed, using modern writers such as Dom Columba Marmion, Catherine de Hueck Doherty as well as older writers such as Brother Lawrence and various monks from the Syriac tradition, how these ideas of liturgical “sacrifice” flow into and enrich our everyday lives and relationships with other people, and then in turn our everyday lives enrich our liturgical experience.

The final talk was on how throughout the history of the Church the monastic tradition gives us various approaches to meditating on the events of the Passion, and what they can mean for our own spiritual life. We also discussed through imagery how portrayals of the Passion through art have followed these different trajectories of the tradition, and illustrated this through many quotations from monastic writers and mystics, including men and women from the Franciscan tradition, and many others. This was accompanied by a practical discussion of the variety of ways to think about the Passion in prayer and reflection.

Each of the talks was preceded and concluded by appropriate prayers chosen by the Rector, which sometimes included singing a final hymn together. The discussion following each talk brought out certain aspects of the topics, including members of the group sharing their own experiences

Pastor or Theologian? Rejecting the False Dichotomy

Gerald Hiestand. Photo courtesy of CPT website.

This post is authored by Gerald Hiestand. Gerald is Senior Associate Pastor at Calvary Memorial Church in Chicago, Illinois, and co-founder and executive director of the Center for Pastor Theologians. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision (Zondervan), and Becoming a Pastor Theologians: New Possibilities for Church Leadership (IVP Academic). His most recent edited volume is Beauty, Order and Mystery: A Christian Vision of Human Sexuality (IVP Academic).

St. Mary’s College is grateful for its connections with the Center for Pastor Theologians. Dr. Scott Hafemann, Reader in New Testament at St. Mary’s, is a Senior Mentor at the Center. The following St. Mary’s graduates and current students are active participants in the Center’s fellowships: Dr. Tim Fox, Dr. Trygve Johnson, Dr. Mickey Klink, Dr. Joey Sherrard, and Matt Ketterling.


I’ve been asked to contribute an essay here in light of my work as executive director of the Center for Pastor Theologians—a network of broadly evangelical clergy committed to ongoing theological scholarship on behalf of the church. But in order to introduce the CPT, let me first say a word about the times in which we live.

There are Christians in every generation who rather forlornly assume that their generation, beyond any previous generation, has at last hit bottom. For my part, I’m not certain our generation is really any better or worse than the ones that have gone before. But I am certain that our generation faces intellectual challenges never before encountered by our forefathers in the faith. The waters we sail are uniquely choppy.

Questions related to human cloning, new definitions of marriage, gender reassignment, the advent of social media, computers in our pockets more powerful than what NASA used to put the first man on the moon, religious relativism juxtapositioned against militant Islam, an ever shrinking social and economic global community, an increasingly post-Christian western culture, the rise of the ‘new atheists’, global warming, and more. If ever there was an age that called for careful, theological, and intellectual leadership, it is surely our age.

In past generations, such leadership was primarily the domain of the Church’s bishops and pastors. But since the Enlightenment, the pastoral community has increasingly (and now almost universally) quit the field. The university professor has replaced the pastor as the assumed theological leader of the church. Pastors, we are told, care for people, preach sermons, visit the sick and provide spiritual counsel. Professors, on the other hand, stay above the fray so they can have time and space to think deeply and write penetratingly about the pressing intellectual questions of the day.

The primary problem with this division of labor, of course, is that pastors remain the theological leaders of the church, however much they might wish to delegate this responsibility to the academy.

The capacity of the people of God to think theologically and Christianly about immigration, ISIS, transgenderism, gay marriage, the possibilities and perils of social media, human cloning, and global warming, does not come from what the professors in the universities are saying, but from what their pastors are (or are not) saying. This is not to minimize the important work being done by academics in the universities and colleges. But the burden of leading the church theologically (with all the attending inevitable ethical implications) is a burden that rests squarely upon the shoulders of church’s pastors.

Theology, as a discipline, has the primary function of answering questions that the Church needs answering. The abdication by pastors of this responsibility has, in the main, resulted in a theologically anemic church, ill-equipped to face the brave new world in which we find ourselves. And insofar as post-Enlightenment theologians now reside almost exclusively in an academic social location, Christian theological reflection at the highest levels has tended to become ecclesially anemic, too often disconnected from the real concerns on the ground. We write deeply about interesting ideas, but we’ve forgotten why those ideas are, in the end, important.

But Christian theological reflection is meant to flourish within the ecclesial community precisely because it is the ecclesial community that theology is meant to serve. And it is the Church’s pastors who are tasked with thinking from within and for this community. The people of God will never rise above the theological leadership of her pastors, however theologically astute our Christian professors are in the academy.

Cue the Center for Pastor Theologians (CPT). The CPT is a broadly evangelical organization dedicated to recruiting, networking, and resourcing pastor theologians to provide faithful written, intellectual and theological leadership on behalf of the church, in light of the cultural challenges and opportunities of the late modern world.

The CPT operates with the guiding premise that pastors are indeed the theological leaders of the church, and that the pastoral community must once again self-consciously assume the burden of the Church’s intellectual and theological leadership. We at the CPT have in mind a vision of the pastor theologian that extends beyond pastors acting as mere theological middle-men—as though pastor theologians were simply pastors who translated academic theology into terms the laity can understand. Such a vision is helpful insofar as it goes, but sells short the vision of the pastor theologian in it most historic and robust conception. In every age, and most especially in ours, the Church needs pastors who not only translate theology, but who also construct theology. Or again, the Church needs pastors who are writing theology not just to their congregants, but to other ecclesially minded theologians and scholars (a genre of theological discourse that I have termed ‘ecclesial theology’, as distinct from academic theology). The Church needs pastors who operate at the highest intellectual levels, and who are able to tap deeply into the Church’s theological heritage and traditions, who are able to construct theological syntheses that answer the most pressing intellectual questions of the day. The Church needs pastors who do the kind of work done by previous generations of pastor theologians—pastors such as Irenaeus, Athanasius, Ambrose, Augustine, the Cappadocians—bishops all.

Not every pastor is called to the highest levels of the theological task, of course. Just like not every professor in the academy is a prolific writer and scholar. Some pastors will discharge their theological leadership solely in the context of a local congregation. Well and good. But the time has come for the emerging generation of ecclesial leaders to press into a new future (which is really just a return to our past) where the pastoral community once again considers itself—collectively—to be a body of theologians.

My congregation is the appropriate soil out of which my research projects have grown; their fears, concerns, doubts, joys, and sufferings inevitably become my own, shaping the questions I ask, the way I read Scripture and how I access the rich textual tradition of the church. The books and articles I write, while not always written directly to my congregation, always have my congregation in view. I have found few things more satisfying than seeing the fruit of my theological reflection winding its way into the lives of those whom I love and serve—bolstering faith, steadying weak knees, encouraging love for God and neighbor, and inspiring hope.

I’ll not pretend. Being a theologian in a local church is not for the faint of heart. I’ve been hacking away at it for a decade now, and it is not all rainbows and rose petals. Local churches very frequently lack the institutional infrastructure so crucial to the theologian’s task. Access to scholarly resources is often a challenge. The relational remove from a community of like-minded scholars can be isolating. And many congregants look with suspicion on a pastor who spends time reading and writing about things that congregants themselves don’t understand. But pressing through and beyond such obstacles is worth it. Being a productive theologian in a local church is indeed possible. It won’t look quite the same as being a theologian in the academy. (I’ve written about that here). But for those so called and gifted, I can’t think of a more fulfilling vocation.

For too long now those with intellectual and theological capacities have not considered the pastorate to be a viable vocational home for a theologian or scholar. This false choice has impoverished (indeed imperiled) the church. The nearly sixty fellows of the CPT are evidence that such a vision can succeed. Not every theologian is called to be a pastor. And not every pastor is called to be a theologian (in the most robust sense the term implies). But some pastors are called and gifted to be theologians, and some theologians are called and gifted to be pastors. If such is the reader of this essay, then reject the false division and embrace the historic vision of the pastor theologian.

Welcome to The Roundel

Welcome to The Roundel, the academic blog for systematic and historical theology at St. Mary’s College. The blog receives its name from the Roundel study space, an office complex provided to postgraduate researchers by St. Mary’s.

Picture of The Roundel Courtesy of Rebekah Earnshaw

Photo of The Roundel; Courtesy of Rebekah Earnshaw

We envision this blog as a place where we might share the conversations that we enjoy within our community with the broader academic world. In the coming weeks, we will provide book reviews, blog posts about current research topics, and summaries of our theology seminars.

Several people make this undertaking possible. Johannes Knecht and Alden McCray, two Ph.D. candidates in St. Mary’s, serve as our book review editors; Johannes focuses on works relevant to historical theology while Alden gives attention to systematic theology works. Rebekah Earnshaw, a third-year Ph.D. candidate, provides summaries of our theology seminars. Numerous staff, students, graduates, and friends of St. Mary’s will offer blog posts that detail their research interests or discuss current topics in the fields of systematic and historical theology.

Dr. Judith Wolfe has done excellent work designing the vast majority of this site and deserves special thanks. She also provides editorial guidance for Roundel blogposts. Dr. Timothy Baylor has contributed to the construction of this blog and also provides editorial guidance. I serve as managing editor and work to procure and upload blog content.

If you are interested in offering a contribution, do contact me. Please contact Johannes and Alden if you are interested in writing a book review.

With warm regards,
David Rathel

While you wait…

While we are bringing our blog online, we’ve collected some resources from the St Mary’s (that is, the St Andrews Divinity School’s) graduate community, especially for those applying for PhD studies and wanting to get a student’s perspective on the application & relocation process, life at St Mary’s College, etc.

Also have a look at our student profiles and, if you’d like, those of our friends in the Divinity School’s Institute of Theology, Imagination and the Arts for more information about being a graduate student at St Mary’s.


chrisbrewer

Dr Chris Brewer

Chris Brewer, a recent PhD graduate now working as Manager of Publishing and Strategic Partnerships at The Colossian Forum, kept a blog during his time at St Mary’s which is full of reflections and tips for new applicants and students. It stretches all the way from An Unofficial Graduate Welcome to Last Days as a Graduate Student, with tips on travel grants, conferences and other things in between. Though some of the details are now a little out of date (a Marks & Spencer and an Aldi have now joined the list of supermarkets in town, for example), it’s been full of useful information for those of us who’ve come to St Andrews more recently.


David Rathel

David Rathel

David Rathel, a current PhD candidate in St Mary’s, has maintained a research blog since arriving in Scotland in 2014. He posts writing and research tips and reviews tools that can assist PhD researchers. He has also written reflective pieces in which he discusses how his time in St Mary’s has developed him personally and professionally.


rebekah

Rebekah Earnshaw

Rebekah Earnshaw, a current PhD candidate in St Mary’s, offers her assessment of life in the St Andrews community. She writes, “I left the sunny skies of Sydney, Australia, in September 2014 to pursue doctoral studies in St Andrews. At least, the community among students and faculty is warm here. Professors John Webster and, now, Mark Elliott have provided invaluable guidance as I’ve explored and grown in my research. The faculty in St Mary’s College are world class. My topic is ‘Creator and creation according to Calvin on Genesis’. I bring together theological and historical insights to illumine Calvin’s thought in this area from the relatively unexamined texts of his Genesis sermons in conversation with his commentary material. I will bring this to bear on contemporary questions within the doctrine of creation, to help us speak well of God and the world together. St Andrews provides excellent facilities and local opportunities. The post-graduate office space in the Roundel fosters a spirit of collegiality across our diverse school; there are disciplines such as systematic and analytic theology, biblical studies, theology and the arts, politics and world religions, and ethics, as well as students and faculty from around the world. The weekly seminars encourage thoughtful engagement with historical and contemporary theology and one another. Coffee hour is great 🙂 The quaint old grey town stands by the sea and nurtures a scholarly and reflective community of many faiths. (As well as just a few golf courses if you’re so inclined.) St Andrews has also opened the world to me. This year I’ve attended the UK Society for Reformation Studies annual conference in Cambridge, the Refo500 annual conference in Copenhagen, the ETS, SBL, and AAR annual meetings in San Antonio, Texas, and even the LA Theology conference is closer to St Andrews than it is to Sydney. Support and encouragement from the School of Divinity make this possible. The world comes to St Andrews, but then St Andrews allows me to go to the world. Studying at St Mary’s College, the school of divinity in St Andrews, has challenged and encouraged me both personally and professionally. I highly recommend it.”