Prayer in theological education for ministry: toward a contemplative practical theological pedagogy
Forshey, Susan Lynn
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Through centuries of Christian theology, prayer has held an important role in theology and the ministerial vocation. However, foundational literature on Protestant theological education for ministry does not offer a clear role for the practice of prayer in the theological classroom. In order to explore the relationship between theology and prayer in the context of theological education, this dissertation first explores the wider conversation around prayer in theology, the ministerial vocation, spirituality studies, and theological education. Second, it analyzes the role of prayer in foundational texts that have influenced and continue to influence the Protestant theological education conversation. Third, in order to gain a deeper understanding of how a practice of prayer functions within a theological framework, this dissertation analyzes three Protestant theologians for the relationship between theology and prayer. Fourth, by placing the analysis of the theological education texts, theologians, and voices from practical theology, spirituality, and contemplative studies into conversation, this dissertation offers a proposal for how prayer can function within a theological classroom. Chapter one draws upon multiple voices across theological traditions within Christianity and argues for the importance of prayer in the work of theology and in the ministerial vocation. It provides an overview of the role of prayer within practical theological methods and theological education, and also explores the split between theology and spirituality. Chapter two analyzes seven foundational texts discussing Protestant graduate ministerial theological education for the role of prayer. Chapters three, four, and five explore the writings of three Protestant theologians--Karl Barth, Eugene Peterson, and Marjorie Suchocki--for how their understanding and practice of prayer functions within their respective theological frameworks, and what their under-standings offer to theological education for ministry. Chapter six places these theologians into conversation with scholars in spirituality studies, practical theology, and scholars from the new field of contemplative studies in order to offer a contemplative pedagogical framework. Using a four-movement dynamic based on lectio divina, the flexible framework balances four modes of attention: first person introspective reflection, second person dialogic prayer, third person objective investigation, and attentive rest.
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