Formation and Reflection: The Promise of Practical Theology

Mudge, Lewis S. and James N. Poling, eds. Formation and Reflection: The Promise of Practical Theology. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987.

Mudge and Poling present essays responding to, and intending to extend, the movement which puts the process of formation of Christian community and personhood in the world at the center of critical theological reflection. Edward Farley locates the various meanings of "practical theology" historically and also focuses on "regions of praxis" requiring an informed theological hermeneutic. Charles E. Winquist seeks to relate practical theology with the actual practice of ministry engaged in the making of meaning within a community of faith. James D. Whitehead emphasizes the role of imagination in the interactive interpretation of "authorities" in Christian life. Thomas H. Groome outlines a five-step "shared praxis approach" of teaching theology in the classroom and congregation, while Don S. Browning offers an ethical view of Groome's method. Lewis S. Mudge discusses how a Christian community remains faithfully alive and understands itself as a sign promoting humanity united under the rule of God. Rebecca Chopp criticizes traditional theological methods of correlating interpretations of tradition and experience because they have over-valued the "common experience" of a few while masking deep distortions in political, cultural, and economic systems. David Tracy responds with a dialogical model in support of the "liberal" method of critical correlation. (RG)