Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 122

VOLUME 11 NUMBER 2 2015 The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision By Kevin J. Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015. 240 pp. $19.99 hardback. Yes, this is another book providing a single metaphor for how pastors ought to understand their roles as pastors even though the Bible provides multiple metaphors. Yes, the authors have no practical pastoral experience and are telling pastors how they ought to fulfill their calling. And yet, even with these two weaknesses and some others too, this book provides a helpful and engaging conversation around the important role that pastors have in God’s kingdom work. After reading this book, pastors will feel encouraged, valued, convicted, and motivated to refocus their work in those areas that are most important to the church and the public square. Vanhoozer and Strachan posit that the single most important metaphor for defining the work of pastors is of public theologians. Knowing that some readers will not understand what they mean by public theologian, the authors quickly provide a well-developed and compelling definition, expanding this throughout the book. Many pastors will resonate with this metaphor as they face biblical and theological decisions in their personal lives and work of: praying, preaching, teaching, writing, discipling, and helping people see life from God’s perspective. What is unique in this book is the authors’ call to be public theologians—not simply academic theologians. This reviewer applauds the attempt to help pastors grasp how critically important being public theologians is to their work, the church, and God’s kingdom work. Giving proper recognition to the other multitude of tasks pastors must also complete would have further strengthened the authors’ ideas. Practicing pastors will appreciate the authors’ acknowledgement of their inexperience by recruiting practicing pastors to provide reflections at the end of most of the chapters. The majority of these pastoral reflections are well done; they connect the authors’ arguments with thoughtful suggestions on how one can be a public theologian in the ebb and flow of church life. Unfortunately, the authors only included pastors who fully resonated with their arguments. The book would be stronger if they had included pastoral reflections by pastors 119