Missional and Pastoral Theologies

When I was first reading the book “Encountering Theology of Mission” by Ott and Strauss, they had given a way of looking at Missional Theology in how it is different from Theology of Mission. At the time I rejected it. But over time, I have seen value in it. Look at the figure below:

Theology can be seen, as a whole as the region within the Red Circle. Theology could be divided into four broad Categories: Biblical Historical, Systematic, and Practical. (Philosophical or Natural could provide a fifth category). Those aspects of theology that have bearing on Mission, could be considered to be Missional Theology. It could be considered what is inside the black circle. As such, it has components in all four categories of Theology. One could also consider that portion of Missional Theology that is part of Practical Theology. One could call that “Theology of Mission.” Ott and Strauss described it different, seeing Theology of Mission as the overlap between Missional Theology and Missiology. Still, since Practical Theology is that aspect of theology with direct relevance to specific ministries, it comes to almost the same thing (and maybe is exactly the same thing.

Part of the reason that I find this a good way of looking at theology as it pertains to Missions is that it works well in another practical ministry— Pastoral Care.

Following the pattern set in missions, Pastoral Theology would be that part of theology (of all categories) that is relevant to Pastoral Care. With that in mind, Practical Theology that relates to Pastoral Care would then be called Theology of Pastoral Care.

This makes sense to me. Considers the definition of Pastoral Theology used by Margaret Whipp in her book “Pastoral Theology”: “Pastoral Theology is How and Why Christians Care” (page 1). “How” is practical and so is mostly that part of Pastoral Theology that relates specifically to pastoral care as a ministry. We could call that Theology of Pastoral Care. The “Why” of Christians caring draws mostly from other aspects of theology (Biblical, Historical, and Systematic). The combination of the How and Why comes together as Pastoral Theology.

This seems to make sense to me and suspect that other practical ministries (worship, discipleship, preaching, and more) would benefit from this sort of perspective. … Or maybe not.

It is something to reflect upon at least.

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