By the end of this unit, students should have: – Learned the working definitions of several critical concepts--“theology,” “practical theology,” “pastoral theology,” and “theological reflection” – Formed a preliminary viewpoint regarding these definitions by critically comparing their initial understanding of these concepts with those of the instructor and those found in the assigned reading – Generated key questions and insights to help guide further learning – Acquired an initial sense of the way in which this course will proceed
Please reflect on the following two questions and respond to them in your Learning Journal prior to proceeding with this unit. Description of Learning Journal Description of Learning Journal
Your Learning Journal is the place to record your responses to questions placed in each unit, as well as any notes that you take on the readings or in group discussions. These may be hand written or typed into a computer. Whenever possible, we encourage you to share your Learning Journal with other students in your own group and in other groups through the course’s online networking sites.
What does each of the following terms mean to you? You do not need a formal definition; descriptive words or phrases are fine. If the term means nothing to you, note that as well. theology pastoral theology practical theology theological reflection Access Learning Journal (MS Word) Access Learning Journal (MS Word)
What factors have influenced your understanding of the meaning of these terms? For example: your seminary teachers, materials you’ve read, conversations with other students, experiences in your home communities, etc. Access Learning Journal (MS Word) Access Learning Journal (MS Word)
In your reading and discussion, keep in mind: – We are part of an open-ended journey of learning. – We should seek to learn from one another in appreciation of our rich and diverse experiences as revealed in our stories.
In your reading and discussion, keep in mind: – We should evaluate the readings, notes and concepts in relation to our particular contexts. – We should seek to learn from one another through our conversation in groups and, if possible, through using the Internet for dialogue with others taking the course in distant locations.
“What Is Practical Theology?” Chap. 1 in Terry A. Veling, Practical Theology (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2005) 3-22 Access Duquesne University’s E-Res Access Duquesne University’s E-Res Critical Concepts Critical Concepts Further Notes about Veling Further Notes about Veling
While doing the readings, reflect on the following questions and respond to them in your Learning Journal.
Recall the story of the homeless shelter in the micro-lecture. Do you think that it is an example of “practical theology”? What would Veling think? Access Learning Journal (MS Word) Access Learning Journal (MS Word)
Veling resists settling on a clear definition of practical theology. What are the most important characteristics that he identifies to help describe it? Access Learning Journal (MS Word) Access Learning Journal (MS Word)
From the descriptions of practical theology that Veling quotes from various authors on pp. 19- 22, pick one that you think is especially helpful for you as student and minister. Why did you choose it? Access Learning Journal (MS Word) Access Learning Journal (MS Word)
After the reading and discussion, take time to write in your Learning Journal: Has your understanding of the critical concepts changed through your learning during this unit? If so, how? What one or two important questions or insights will you carry forward from this unit? Access Learning Journal (MS Word) Access Learning Journal (MS Word)
Despite the difficulty identified by Veling in defining “practical theology” and related terms, it may be helpful to start with a few “working definitions.” As the course progresses, I hope that you will modify these to arrive at better definitions and descriptions for your own purposes!
Theology: The human attempt, flowing from experiences and practices of faith, to understand the nature of God and God’s activity in relationship to the world
Practical Theology: The dynamic activity of bringing contextualized experiences and practices into mutually interpretive and transformative engagement with the Christian tradition, for the sake of more faithful and effective discipleship in the world
Pastoral Theology: Engagement in practical theology within Christian communities, focusing on their needs and mission as they seek to become more faithful and effective in their discipleship in the world. This occurs especially through the traditional forms of pastoral care, catechetics, liturgy, and other means.
Theological Reflection: Participating, as individuals and groups, in an intentional process of practical/pastoral theology ; as a key competency for ministry, it takes on specific characteristics in various types of ministerial contexts.