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Introduction to Practical Theology : History, Theory, and the Communication of the Gospel in the Present
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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 as well as guiding its scholars in the crafting of their academic discipline.