HKBTS's Path to Practical Theology

HKBTS's Path to Practical Theology

Since 2009, Hong Kong Baptist Theological Seminary (“Baptist Theological Seminary”) has been committed to building a “theologically wise” (theologia) practical theology.Preachers with “theological wisdom” discern Jesus Christofheart, and help people use his thoughts, feelings and examples to practice what they believe in and respond to the current situation with correct actions.Practical theology emphasizes the practical wisdom of theology, which can be practically applied in pastoral scenes and social reality, so that people can be fearless in challenging days, ride on the spiritual wind, and move forward with perseverance.

Constructing Practical Theologycultivateservant leader

To construct such a practical theology, "Baptism" must first become a spiritual learning group, in which teachers and students are called by God to diligently study the Bible and theology, and to mature their faith, reason, and discernment abilities. ; Teachers, students, and co-workers treat each other with enthusiasm, connect to the fellowship of the Trinity, establish a sincere friendship, nurture the quality of life in disciples, and open the mind of self-examination, so that the entire group can be full of confidence, love, and integrity , the fruits of righteousness, hope, humility, faithfulness, truthfulness, and joy.

Therefore, "Baptism" is committed to cultivating not only students' academic excellence, but also their spiritual character, and enabling them to serve the Lord and others in the church and society, and become servant leaders ( servant-leader). Therefore, we not only pursue excellence in teaching and research, but also focus on students’ spiritual training, church pastoral care, and social participation. In other words,We must equip students to become servant leaders who shoulder the mission of the gospel, have a good spiritual life and character, and be able to use their thinking and leadership skills to fight a good fight for the Lord throughout their lives..

Teaching Practical TheologyUse synergy

In 2010, the professor team of the college entered a new stage - the stage of practicing "synergy". I interviewed the teachers one by one to understand each teacher’s primary and secondary teaching and research fields, as well as their concerns for the church and society. Then I combined the teaching expertise and research fields of each teacher to piece together a beautiful picture of team work. So we started to learnInterdisciplinary integration and complementarity can more effectively help students learn and implement practical theology with "theological wisdom".

The teaching team is required to play a synergistic role in order to avoid the problems of excessive categorization and fragmentation in contemporary theological education; more importantly, this can generate tremendous power to meet the various challenges encountered by the church and society. Therefore, many subjects of "Baptism" adopt the "team teaching" model; in fact, "team teaching" is also another practical form of "Baptism" practical theology. The so-called "collaborative teaching" means that two or more teachers cooperate with each other to plan and teach the same subject. Teachers may take turns teaching, or interact in the same field, or one teacher may teach while other teachers observe and supplement, which is flexible and changeable. The teachers teach and practice wholeheartedly, and do not stick to sectarian opinions. They bring together everyone's strengths in the classroom and exchange knowledge with each other. Teachers' own knowledge is thus improved; students can also expand their horizons from the teachings of different teachers and learn how to integrate knowledge in various fields across disciplines.

Over the past ten years, "Baptism" has worked hard to construct a practical theology with "theological wisdom" and tried to concretely implement it in the church's pastoral work and social reality, including preaching, missions, pastoral care, social care, Youth pastoral care, environmental conservation and other areas.

Practical Theology: Preaching

Preaching is an extremely important ministry for evangelists. We must declare the message of the gospel faithfully and humbly, preaching only Christ and His cross, rather than packaging it in euphemistic and colorful words.

From 2010 to 2011, and from 2017 to 2019, I wrote a total of seven articles related to preaching in "Hospital News".1 We hope that "Baptist God" will become a school of preaching, and train students to become evangelists who preach the gospel of the cross, shepherds who care for the needs of the congregation, and prophets who dare to preach the truth.. In the past few days, teachers and classmates have made progress and grown together in their preaching practice, whether it is the skills and messages of preaching, the spirituality of preaching, or even the testimony of life.

Theology in practice: mission

Mission is an inevitable practice for a group of disciples to face the church and the world. From 2011 to 2013, I wrote seven consecutive articles on missions in "House News".2 I pray that "Baptist God" will follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, fulfill God's mission, and actively share the great love and grace of Christ with strangers with a heart of hospitality.. This is the practice of the integral mission of mission.

Teachers and students at the college learn to be hospitable to the "littlest" strangers, take the initiative to visit the poor and needy, and share with them the vitality and peace of the gospel. Strangers live not only in Hong Kong, but also in mainland China, Asia, and in different corners of the world. Teachers and students go to different mission fields every year to warmly entertain local strangers and witness to them the love of Christ.

Theology in practice:pastoral care

Pastoral care is the preacher’s eagerness to experience God’s mysterious grace with those who are different from him after experiencing God’s hospitality and His unconditional forgiveness. Between 2013 and 2015, I wrote six articles on pastoral care in "College News".3 Pray that our calling is not onlyyesBe hospitable to fellow travelers we like, but also to strangers and those who have done us harm., because we are convinced that hospitality born of a forgiving heart can exert a more profound influence and bring about unity in the church and a relationship of mutual solidarity.

In addition to having a forgiving heart, the preacher, as a caregiver, must also have an "understanding" based on empathy, so that he can reframe the other person's problem, thus changing the meaning of the event to the person involved. This empathy must be exercised and cultivated before it becomes second nature to the caregiver. In addition, prayer is also an important practice in pastoral care. Prayer brings fellowship and communication between people and God and between people (koinonia). Prayer can help us understand God’s will and choose the most appropriate solution.

Theology in practice:societymeetingcare

Between 2016 and 2020, I wrote six articles on social care in "Hospital News".4 Praying to "baptize God" in a broken and divided worldmiddle, become a complexWorka group that practices charity and justice.

To learn social care, we must understand the message of Micah 6:8. The covenant God requires us to obey is a "triad" command. The first two parts of this command are common covenant responsibilities familiar to the Israelites: "do justice" and "love mercy." The third part is "walk humbly with your God." True humility is to allow God’s righteousness to penetrate deeply into our hearts, to make our righteousness submissive under God’s righteousness, and to allow His grace to help us transcend our own limited boundaries.

On January 16, 2018, our hospital held a spiritual training day with the theme of "Going into the Community". More than a hundred teachers and students from the college were divided into seven groups and went to five areas (Yau Ma Tei, To Kwa Wan, Tai Kok Tsui, Shek Kip Mei, Sham Shui Po) to participate in community activities, where they further discovered and saw the needy and helpless people around them.

Theology in practice:Youth Pastoral Care

On September 18, 2021, "Baptist God" held the first "Youth Theological Education Camp", with more than a hundred young people participating. Since then, we have begun to think about the pastoral concept of the youth pastoral theologian Andrew Root.5 Lu Enzhe pointed out: For a long time, youth workers have thought that if there are more activities, young people will stay in the church. However, many teenagers end up leaving the church. Why is this happening? Lu Enzhe believes that churches actively build jungles through activities, or that some churches focus on discipleship training and plant many trees, but ignore the theological soil in which the trees take root. Therefore, youth ministry is not just asking “How do we attract young people to come to church?”, but more importantly, “Where is Jesus Christ?”The purpose of youth ministry is to enable young people to be with God and with others.

Theology in practice:environmental conservation

Environmental conservation extends the concerns of practical theology to the nature created by God. Between 2017 and 2023, I wrote four articles about ecological theology in "Journal News".6 I hope that the group of disciples of "Baptist God" will live out the Creator's intention, which is to celebrate God's restored gospel with all things, and live a simple, contented, and self-controlled life., do not indulge in lust or be greedy to the detriment of our neighbors and the earth.

"Baptism" further implements research and attention on environmental conservation into campus life. The college established the "Campus Environmental Protection Research Group" in 2018, which is responsible for researching and promoting issues related to the college's energy efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, and greening the campus. It has successfully implemented various environmental protection plans and installed solar energy on the rooftops of each building in the Western Australian campus. It also has a power generation facility and collects the hospital’s food waste to produce organic compost.

The concept of practical theology

"Baptist" has been studying hard and moving forward on the road of practical theology for more than ten years. We have moved from topics such as "preaching", "missions" and "pastoral care" to "social care" and "youth pastoral care". Then towards "environmental conservation", together we established a generation of servant leaders.

What is the philosophy behind these steady efforts? "Baptist God" has always strived to cultivate church leaders, hoping that they can equip brothers and sisters in the church to meet current challenges and look forward to the future. Over the past ten years, "Baptism" has been gradually constructedPractical Theology of the Church.

Having said that, what exactly is “practical theology”? Some believe that practical theology is simply the practical application of biblical and theological beliefs. They believe that theology (such as systematic theology) tends to construct abstract theories, soaring high above life like an eagle, providing people with a grand vision and asking people to apply this grand vision to life. In contrast, practical theology can be said to be a "one-off" theology, and its tasks and methods must be constantly rediscovered. Therefore, this must be flexible and ad hoc.

However, this view oversimplifies practical theology. Practical theology is not only about the field of practice, nor is it work after the establishment of an ideological system, it is a theology in itself. Practical theology worker Duncan Forrester pointed out that the concerns of practical theology include: people need to discern God’s actions in the world; consider human behavior and current events from a theological perspective; pay attention to the existence and activities of the church; pay attention to the practice of Christians .7 Kenda Dean describes practical theology as a branch of theology that not only interprets sacred texts and traditions but also guides "the faithful walk."8 Don Browning proposed that all theology is practical: theology is a kind of practical wisdom (Phronesis). Practical theology is "really doing theology" to clarify the practice of Christian faith so as to face and solve the specific problems of life.9 It’s about the theological insight and action of Christians who live faithfully. That's why,Practical theology is not onlyOnlyIt is the application of theory,alsomust be somehow deepenterengage in theology, think and practice theology in multiple contexts,So easyTheology speaks to the world through action. Richard Osmer pointed out: Practical theology is a type of theology; it uses theological concepts, methods and resources to construct theology and dialogues with other fields, including art and science.10

At Baptism, we often talk critically about Osmund's ideas. Dr. She Zhifeng, Pastor Lin Guobin and myself have all taught his ideas. Osment's method of practical theology consists of four interdependent parts: "the descriptive-empirical task" (the descriptive-empirical task), "the interpretive task" (the interpretive task), "the normative task" (the normative task) and “the pragmatic task” (the pragmatic task). First, the "descriptive-empirical task" asks the question: "What happened?"11 Seek to establish the facts of a particular situation.12 Second, the “explanatory task” asks: “Why does this happen?”13 Strive to understand reality through various theories, models or reflections.14 Third, the “normative task” asks: “What should it be?”15 Aim to determine norms through reflection on biblical texts, doctrinal traditions, moral standards, and models of good practice. This is a kind of "prophetic discernment." Fourth, the “Pragmatic Task” asks: “How can we respond?”16 This is not just about fixing the problem or implementing some corrective procedures, but it is about embarking on a holistic, transformative process that transforms church ministry.

Practical theology: a theology that is constantly practiced

During these fourteen years, "Baptism" has gradually established a practical theology with "theological wisdom."In the past three years, I have become more and more convinced that practical theology, especiallywere ableHelp the church properly and thoroughlynoodleTo the special time and space of the present moment.A model of practical theology, like the one proposed by Osmond, allows church leaders to demonstrate the practical wisdom of theology. It invites leaders to reflect on Scripture, theology, and current social contexts, bringing the fields into dialogue with each other and focusing on good practice. In fact, "practical theology" is more like a verb than a noun, referring to "practicing theology." Practical theology begins with the analytical task of description, necessarily embodying theology in praxis.Practical theology and its tasks(performative task)The climax is when people witness God’s work in the moment, renewing our faith and understanding, and renewing our practice.

1 "School of Preaching." The Spirituality of Preaching> (July 2010), "The Preaching of the Evangelist" (October 2010), "The Preaching of the Shepherd's Care" (January 2011), "The Preaching of the Prophet" (July 2011), "Talk about "Preaching" and "Graduation Preaching" (April 2017), "Exercise of Theological Wisdom: Preaching" (April 2018), "Moving Further towards Preaching" (January 2019).
2"The Mission of Discipleship" (October 2011), "The Mission of Discipleship" (January 2012), "Mission and the Holy Spirit" (April 2012), "Hospitality - Practicing Mission" Integral Mission》(July 2012), "Integral Mission--The Gospel for the Poor?" 〉(October 2012), 〈Poverty of the “non-poor”〉(January 2013), and 〈From ‘Siding with the Poor’ to ‘Healing of Life’〉 (April 2013).
3"The Pastoral Theology of Forgiveness" (October 2013), "Pastoral Theology from Hospitality to Forgiveness" (January 2014), "Spiritual Care and Mental Health" (April 2014), " An "understanding" from caregivers - empathy> (July 2014), "Empathetic Listening" (October 2014), "Care and Prayer" (April 2015).
4 "Discernment of the Church" (April 2016), "Our Hearts Honor the Lord" (July 2016), "Teaching Justice" (October 2016), "Re-Talk about Doing Justice: Honoring the Lord" big. "Walking with God" (January 2017), "The Season of Grief" (October 2019), "Thinking and Believing in the Season of Grief" (January 2020).
5<Spread your wings and soar. Cross-border inheritance of faith, hope and love》 (January 2022); see "Starting from the Youth Theological Education Camp...", April 2022 issue of "School News".
6"Talk about ecological peace" (October 2017), "The gospel of greenness" (April 2020), "Living in it" (October 2022), "God sees everything he has created... Very good> (April 2023).
7 DB Forrester, “Can Theology Be Practical?” in Practical Theology: International Perspectives, ed. F. Schweitzer and JA ven der Ven (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1999), 22.
8 Kenda Creasy Dean, "We Will Find the Answers as We Go: A Response to Chap Clark's Youth Ministry as Practical Theology," Journal of Youth Ministry 7.1 (2008): 39.
9 DS Browning, A Fundamental Practical Theology: Descriptive and Strategic Proposals (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), 15.
10 R. Osmer, Practical Theology: An Introduction (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 163.
11 Osmer, Practical Theology, 4.
12 Osmer, Practical Theology, 24.
13 Osmer, Practical Theology, 4.
14 Osmer, Practical Theology, 85.
15 Osmer, Practical Theology, 4.
16 Osmer, Practical Theology, 4.

July 2023

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