Friday, July 27, 2007

Introducing The SAET

Over the past few years a number of us have been working on the formation of a theological society that specifically focuses on the intersection of theology and praxis. The consummation of this effort is The Society for the Advancement of Ecclesial Theology (SAET).

The SAET is a network of evangelical pastors committed to producing biblical and theological scholarship for the renewal of the local church—a commitment once typified by past practitioners such as Augustine, Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Edwards and more. Though not all these men were formally pastors in the sense we understand today, their enduring and fruitful legacy teaches us the wisdom of combining theological formation and ecclesial practice.

Yet in spite of this legacy, our contemporary evangelical context has, in many respects, driven a wedge between the task of the theologian and the duty of the parish minister. No longer do we expect one person to fill both roles. Unlike the early days of North American evangelicalism, our most significant theologians now reside almost exclusively in the academy, too often disconnected from the press and weight of local church ministry. In an age that has rightly emphasized the relationship between social location and theological formation, it is the belief of the SAET that the contemporary separation of praxis and theological formation has resulted in the loss of a distinctly ecclesial voice in evangelical theology. The SAET seeks to resurrect this voice.

We recognize that not all pastors are called to the task of theological formation. Further, we likewise recognize that not all scholars are called to a life of praxis within the local church. Nonetheless, the SAET believes that many individuals have been charged with just such a dual calling. It is the aim of the SAET therefore, to provide a context of scholarly engagement for those pastors who desire to do more than merely understand theology, but also desire to make ongoing scholarly contributions to the wider theological community for the renewal of the local church.

Toward this end, The SAET actively engages in the following:
The promotion of the pastor-scholar paradigm within the wider theological community.
The broadening of the SAET network.
Annual/semi-annual symposiums on critical theological issues directly relevant to local church ministry.
The establishment of an on-line forum for dialog, critique and the dissemination of member scholarship (not yet active).
The publication of member research and scholarship through the SAET Journal and other publication venues.
In August, the SAET board and a number of pastor-scholars will be meeting in Wheaton, Illinois with Dr. Scott Hafemann to discuss a potential book project centered on the Scriptural motif of resurrection and its relation to pastoral ministry. The papers prepared for this project will be read at the first annual SAET Symposium, scheduled tentatively for the Summer of ’08 in the Chicago area.

If you are a pastor who has a desire and calling to produce scholarship, and are interested in the vision of The SAET, please contact me. For those interested in learning more about The SAET, please see the President's Interview.

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