Den praktiska teologin som professionsteori
The purpose of this article is to remind Practical Theology in Sweden of its historically given identity and to show that this identity derives from a well-defined encyclopedic context. The point of departure is that theology is a positive science, in the sense used by Friedrich Schleiermacher: a science directed towards a specific goal, which in theology's case is the well-informed government of the Church. Within theology thus understood, Practical Theology provides professional training by developing pastoral theory. It forms a bridge between on the one hand philosophical and historical theology, and on the other the praxis that theology ultimately serves. Based on this understanding, the article treats four areas of responsibility of Practical Theology: students, churches, research, and theological faculties. Its task in relation to students is to teach them to combine various kinds of theological knowledge in theoretical reflection on ecclesial practices. Its task in relation to churches is to provide them with well-educated leaders and useful research. Its task in research is to further the well-being of churches without compromizing scholarly standards or curtailing academic freedom. Its task in relation to theological faculties, finally, is to contribute to cooperation between subjects by upholding the integrative character of Practical Theology. Methodologically, the article makes use of German Evangelical theology in order to refer Swedish Practical Theology back to its origin and counteract influences that have confused its identity, namely a positivist conception of theology as the scientific study of Christianity, prevalent in Sweden since the early 1970s, and, more recently, the appropriation of the name "Practical Theology" by theologians engaged in critical studies, practice theory, and social activism.
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