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Empirical Research in Pra Ctical Theology as a Strategy of Intervention

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What is the task of today's theology? The days when theology used to doubt that empirical ways of describing reality were legitimate or reasonable are over. Even if there are still church officials who, when confronted with critical empirical data, say "Let us pray that the figures and numbers are incorrect", it is a fact that no pastoral planning can do without results from the human sciences and church sociology. Likewise, no one any longer seriously questions the use of empirical methods of research in theology. The central question that theology has to face is: What does it understand by 'reality', i.e., what is its material object? How does it deal with this reality methodologically? Theology needs to investigate its access to reality using the methods that are standard in today's investigation and construction of reality. There are numerous points of contact and overlap with the various disciplines of the human sciences and their findings. The thesis of this article is that empirical research will be an essential part of future theological research. Since empirical research methods are a valuable means of solving controversies concerning alternative pastoral concepts, they are of fundamental importance for practical theology.

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