25 Feb Attentive to God – Book Review
Attentive to God: Thinking Theologically in Ministry
Charles M. Wood and Ellen Blue,
Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2008, 138 pgs, $16.00; paper
Reviewed by Larry Goleman,
The Alban Institute, Herdon, VA
This book, written by colleagues in theology and ministry at Perkins, brings a specific framework of theological education to the study of ministry through case studies.
The framework stresses the cultivation of both “Vision and Discernment,” after the now classic written by Wood in the ’80’s which stresses the formation of a theological framework for the “big picture” of ministry, and the case-by-case judgment needed to bring a fitting theological insight to bear on each situation. The authors advocate a view of theology as the formation of a distinct habitus or “practical wisdom,” which is a “capacity and disposition to pay attention theologically,” especially to God’s work and the God-relatedness of all things (p. 4).
The first three chapters extend Wood’s earlier argument in “Vision and Discernment.” Chapter one builds on H. Richard Niebuhr to develop a deeply relational understanding of the theological enterprise, which always involves God, self, and others, the latter redefined as “companion” or “neighbor” to stress the moral as well as spiritual nature of the self-neighbor relation. To build a vision of such God-relatedness between persons and their neighbors is the task of theology–a human vocation that pastors help others develop. In short, “all humans are meant to be theologians”–and shaping this vision is one of the church’s primary callings.