Some time ago I read a thought-provoking article from the Expository Times entitled, ‘A Taxonomy of the Pastor-Theologian: Why PhD Students Should Consider the Pastorate as the Context for Their Theological Scholarship’. The author, Gerald Hiestand, argues for the revival of the ecclesial theologian, a minister who is engaged in the academic theological task and publishing work from within the context of ministry. This is distinguished from the well-known models of the local theologian (a theologically-minded minister of a local congregation) and the popular theologian (a minister publishing work at a popular level). It’s written from an American evangelical context, but is nevertheless more generally applicable.
Anyway, whilst sorting out some stuff , and as I approach the time for submitting my thesis, I happened across it and the following caught my eye:
Many PhD students feel pulled between the life of the mind and the life of the church. They love study, writing, reflection, and theological scholarship. They have the desire and gifting to serve as theologians to the wider evangelical community. But at the same time they have a heart and calling for pastoral ministry in the local church. Sadly, our current context compels such individuals to choose between these two callings. Yet this need not be—history has proven otherwise. Both the church and evangelical theology itself is in need of individuals who are willing to unite the life of the mind (and pen) with the pastoral vocation. Both pastors and professors must once again hold out the local church as a viable social location for theologians—not only for the sake of a particular local church, but for the sake of theology itself.
‘A Taxonomy of the Pastor-Theologian,’ Expository Times 124/6 (March 2013), 271.