A Word to Seminary Students about Theology and Preaching

 

Amassing intellectual capital is an important part of Seminary training. In ministry, you’re going to need all you can lay your hands on!

However, those of us who have been around the block a few times know that you cannot survive in ministry off that capital alone. Since you are constantly making withdrawals, you have to constantly make deposits. . . or go bankrupt.

Theological training is imminently practical. . . especially for preaching.

Disillusionment in your first church job often arrives with lightening speed. It doesn’t take long to discover that the theological foreign currency you acquired during your seminary days is not spendable in the new ministry culture unless it is exchanged into contemporary coinage. Lecture notes don’t preach well!

Caution! It is at this point that some young preachers err to the detriment of the people . . . and their future ministry. Disillusioned at the discovery that the theological capital doesn’t seem to spend well with the congregation, he runs the risk of embracing a calamitous conclusion—theological disciplines are irrelevant to preaching.

What hath practical theology to do with systematic theology and church history?

The sheer number of seminary courses in Old Testament, New Testament, systematic theology and church history compared to the few required practical theology courses can lead the young theologue to the false conclusion that theology takes precedence over preaching and is not, in fact, itself practical.

Trust me, all theology is practical or it is bad theology.

Practical theology is vital and necessary to integrate all the theological disciplines learned in seminary.

There should be no fear whatsoever that if systematic theology or church history should somehow be practical they would somehow lose their intellectual integrity.

Theology is there for the sake of preaching. Preaching must be the heart and soul of theology. Theology must be the conscience of preaching. To sell your theological soul for a mess homiletical untheological pottage is . . . nonsense.

Preaching doesn’t have to buy into the false dichotomy of being either theological or interesting.

Let’s be both.

 

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