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The Attempt to Establish a Chair in Practical Theology at Leiden University (1618–1626)

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Chapter Summary

The need for practical theology as a distinct discipline within the field of theology was recognized long before this discipline actually became established as a regular part of training for the ministry. This chapter focuses on one significant moment in the early history of this discipline, an attempt by the Dutch Reformed churches to establish a chair in practical theology at Leiden University, their main training school for ministers. The original impetus that led to the call for a practical chair of theology came from Classis Walcheren in the province of Zeeland. The concept of "practical theology" at this time first of all meant study of the cases of conscience, but it also signified training in the practical aspects of the pastoral ministry, such as application-oriented preaching, visitation of the sick and troubled, and pastoral leadership in church administration, church polity, and church discipline.

Keywords: application-oriented preaching; Dutch Reformed churches; Leiden University; pastoral leadership; practical theology; Zeeland



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