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Regulating the Empirical in Practical Theology

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On Critical Realism, Divine Action, and the Place of the Ministerial

image of Journal of Youth and Theology

Through the exploration of youth ministry scholarship this article explores the empirical movement in practical theology. The article argues that while the empirical turn has helped practical theology better attend to the lived and concrete experience of human beings, it has also made the theological more difficult. Therefore, the first part of the article reminds the reader of how the empirical method brings distinct, and at times foreign, epistemologies into contact with the theological task. Reviewing this point, this article draws it deeper by turning to Charles Taylor, showing how the empirical methods obscure transcendence in favor of immanence. The article then constructs an approach to the empirical that might open the field to transcendence and avoid reduction. It argues for ministry itself being the motivation and shape of empirical work in practical theology, showing how ministry mediates divine action, while upholding the importance and particularities of human action.

Affiliations: 1: Carrie Olson Baalson Associate Professor of Youth and Family Ministry, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, USA, aroot@luthersem.edu

10.1163/24055093-01501007
/content/journals/10.1163/24055093-01501007
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1. Cameron Helen,; Duce Cathrine. Researching Practice in Ministry and Mission . London: SCM Press, 2013.
2. Hall Douglas John. Thinking the Faith . Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991.
3. Hart David Bentley. The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss . New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013.
4. Jungel Eberhard. God’s Being is in Becoming: The Trinitarian Being of God in the Theology of Karl Barth . Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001.
5. Sayer Andrew. Realism and Social Science . Los Angeles: Sage, 2000.
6. Smith Christian. What is a Person? Chicago: University of Chicago, 2010.
7. Smith James K.A. How (Not) To Be Secular. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014.
8. Swinton John,; Mowat Harriet. Practical Theology and Qualitative Research . London: SCM Press, 2006.
9. Taylor Charles. A Secular Age . Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007.
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/content/journals/10.1163/24055093-01501007
2016-04-28
2018-11-17

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