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An Introduction to Practical Theology
History, Theory, and the Communication of the Gospel in the Present

By Christian Grethlein Translated by Uwe Rasch

An Introduction to Practical Theology
Paperback, 264 pages $34.95
Published: 1st August 2016
ISBN: 9781481305174
Format: 9in x 6in

Subjects: All Practical Theology, All Theology, Historical Theology

Serious theology is systematic theology. Or so the story goes. Practical theology—with its focus on the church, its life and its practices—has sometimes been understood as the second order application of the real work of academic theology. However, in this abridged translation of his magisterial Praktische Theologie, Christian Grethlein realizes the rigorous methodology, critical commitments, and expansive sweep of practical theology as both an academic and an ecclesial discipline.

Grethlein roots his practical theology in communication theory, but does so in a way ordered to a specific end: the communication of the Christian gospel in the present day. He distinguishes practical theology from simply a guide to specific ecclesial praxis, on the one hand, and some general theory of religion, on the other. Grethlein then blends empirical observation with biblical texts to reveal practical theology’s unique nature as a discipline oriented toward rigorous examination of both the gospel and the intentional ways in which it is shared. In so doing, Grethlein opens the possibility of a truly encyclopedic and embedded practical theology.

Part 1 provides a historical introduction to practical theology, positioning it on a global stage, and in relation to other academic disciplines—particularly the modern sciences—as well as within ecclesial and theological traditions. In part 2 Grethlein develops practical theology as communication of the gospel by examining the hermeneutical, empirical, and theological foundations necessary for a systematic practical theology. In part 3 Grethlein turns his attention to ways the gospel is communicated both in time and place, as well as the forms of that communicating (telling, talking, preaching, praying, and singing).

In An Introduction to Practical Theology, Christian Grethlein offers students the foundations and frameworks for practical theology while guiding its scholars in the crafting of their academic discipline.




Part 1. Historical Introduction to Practical Theology


1. Practical Theology in Germany

2. Practical Theology in Catholicism and the United States


Part 2. Practical Theology as the Theory of the Communication of the Gospel


3. The Hermeneutical Framework

4. The Empirical Condition

5. The Theological Foundations


Part 3. Methods for Communication of the Gospel


6. Understanding Time and Place

7. Communicating About, With, and From God


Index of Names

Subject Index

“A significant addition to the literature on practical theology”


"Students, teachers, and practical theologians will find this work immeasurably helpful. Grethlein offers key insights into developing areas of practical theology that need to be considered. The survey of history, theology, and social sciences provides a foundational introduction to practical theology."

—Scott Donahue-Martens, Homiletic

"…This three-part book offers something new to scholars, students and practitioners of Practical Theology, with several positive features. The first part introduces readers both to past and contemporary German scholarship in practical theology, supported by the literature sections throughout the book. Secondly, from his German perspective, Grethlein provides a comparative critical study of Practical Theology in Catholicism and the United States and thus provides a new and challenging method for practical theologians to engage in a global conversation."

—Prasad D. R. J. Phillips, Review & Expositor

"A welcome volume on an important subject to church practitioners who take theology seriously"

—Barry K. Morris, Reading Religion

"In An Introduction to Practical Theology one finds a vigorous presentation of the international scope of practical theology today, its grounding the practice of communicating the gospel, and its relationship to a fast-changing and secularized social context. Students, practical theologians, pastors, and church leaders working in the field will benefit greatly from Grethlein’s excellent work."

—Christian B. Scharen, Vice President for Applied Research, The Center for Theological Education, Auburn Theological Seminary

"English readers have good reason to welcome this book, translated and abridged from its original edition, for giving us a wonderful grasp of a German perspective on practical theology and an approach that is exceptional even in its own context, turning the discipline’s attention from generic study of religion to a more focused exploration of how the ‘gospel’ is conveyed through teaching, celebrating, and instruction on living, modeled after Jesus’ ministry."

—Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Religion, Psychology, and Culture, Vanderbilt University

"Keenly aware of the precariousness of the church today, Grethlein creatively urges practical theologians to focus on ‘communicating the gospel’—exploring interactive encounters that can engage a wider range of participants through core, evocative practices of Christian faith. Such a proposal stretches us outward. From his German grounding of theology and praxis, Grethlein offers contemporary proposals that move beyond the conventional, ones that ought to stimulate our own thinking regardless of the location of our ministry and scholarship."

—James Nieman, President, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

"Grethlein’s An Introduction to Practical Theology is an important review and updating of the crucial topic of ‘practical theology’ for the theological world. His work expands the subject of practical theology by complexifying its longstanding attention to the contextual and practice-focused character of faith. Theological attention to the complexity of communication itself is a real gift, and while this practical theology is written from a German perspective, its insights are widely applicable."

—Mary McClintock Fulkerson, Professor of Theology, Duke Divinity School

Christian Grethlein is Professor of Practical Theology at Westfalian Wilhelms-University.

Uwe Rasch is, among other things, a freelance academic translator and Assistant Editor of Aldous Huxley Annual and the Human Potentialities series of the Center for Aldous Huxley Studies at the University of Münster.

Publication Details:

 Paperback , 264 pages
 9in x 6in

  REL067000, REL067080
 Baylor University Press

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