A Jagged Contention: Theology without Preaching

“But it is equally clear that…this generation of theologians—with few but significant exceptions—has defined its calling by pushing off against the preaching of the church. Theology has been professionalized; it has become a guild unto itself. Turned in upon themselves, the theologians have kept the church at a safe distance, treating preaching as incidental instead of as the goal of theological reflection. And so the church, with rare exceptions, has passed over this generation of theologians when it has sought leadership, leaving the guild to its own standards and devices and telling the schools, with increasingly slim financing, to fend for themselves.”

  • James Arne Nestigen, “Preaching Repentance” in Justification Is for Preaching, ed. Virgil Thompson, pgs. 231-232.


What are the results when theology is treated apart from the task of preaching? Why is it dangerous to treat theology as just another academic discipline? Why should theology always aim at the pulpit?

Share your thoughts in the comments below


2 thoughts on “A Jagged Contention: Theology without Preaching

  1. When treated apart there is risk of unsound doctrine or the illiteracy of the people to know what the doctrine of their faith is, means, and teaches. It is dangerous because it barricades it in for the classroom instead of the church and pulpit. It should always aim at the pulpit because regardless how contemporary people like things, there is a system to the traditional and confessional churches, a systematic theology that is of vital importance if we are going to stand in the one Lord, one faith, one hope, and one baptism.


  2. I thought theology was to form every walk of life. And what could be more appropriate than theology in any discussion, or profession, of the relationship of man and God? How is it possible to detach theology from preaching? Wouldn’t that make it irrelevant to the church of the specific subject of study?

    On the other hand, I can see theology’s use apart from preaching, as well. Somebody has to teach the stuff to aspiring theologians, and it is natural to bring theology to any vocation or duty of life. Apologists are hardly useless, but neither are preachers. Nor are Christian plumbers.


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