Church & Society
Azusa Pacific University
Church & Society
January 13, 2002
"Introduction to Practical Theology"

I.   What is theology?
A.   "[Theology is] the study which, through participation in and reflection upon the Christian faith, seeks to express the content of this faith in the clearest and most coherent language available." - J. Macquarrie, Principles of Christian Theology (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1977)
B.   This definition describes the intellectual exercise of systematic theology
C.   Systematic theology is essential for developing mature Christian belief, but it is not sufficient in itself
II.   Practical theology is a theology of action
A.   Action is required when current Christian practices, that used to "work," now put the church into higher and higher tension with society
1.   Worship music during the 80s
2.   Clothing attire during church
3.   Premarital sex, it is the norm to have sex before marriage even though we as the church must remain true to our theology
B.   The Holy Spirit may be viewed as the instigator of this tension (Mark 1:12) or the Spirit may use the tension (Acts 8:1-5)
1.   Mark 1:12 - The Holy Spirit created the tension for Christ to be driven out to the desert
2.   Acts 8:1-5 - The early church faces huge persecution forcing the church to disperse all around
C.   A sense of urgency, which is the first prerequisite for change, is the created as the tension develops
D.   Systematic and historical theology, Biblical studies, and the social sciences are essential in the practical theology process. This proves is used to develop Christian practices in all areas of our lives, both as individual Christian and as a community of believers
E.   Formal Definition: Practical theology describes and analyzes life events and trends to determine how they relate to Christian believes, and then develops new guidelines and skills for Christians action in the church and in society
III.   Key to understanding practical theology is to learn how it relates theory to practice
A.   Systematic theology, Biblical theology, and Historical theology moves from theory to practice
1.   Bible -> practice
2.   The problem with this?
a.   Description of situation is ignored
b.   Accurate questions are not developed and addressed
c.   Current Bible interpretation and Christian tradition is not critically evaluated
B.   Practical theology
1.   Practice -> theory -> practice
2.   It moves Christian to act upon the theology in a real world