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Theology in Scotland Journal

Theology in Scotland logo (normal)Theology in Scotland is sponsored by the School of Divinity, University of St Andrews (St Mary's College) and appears twice yearly, in spring and autumn. It was first published in 1994 at the request of a large group of ministers of the Church of Scotland.

With a mix of academic and practical articles and stimulating reviews, it is an ideal tool to help keep up-to-date with current theological thinking.

Current issue

Theology in Scotland 22 no. 2 (Autumn 2015)

Practical theology: The past, present and future of a concept

David Grumett (Chancellor’s Fellow in Christian Ethics and Practical, University of Edinburgh)

Dr David Grumett argues that if practical theology is to be sustainable in the academy it must engage more closely with Scripture, doctrine and tradition and, in so doing, attempt to address the whole of material life. More particularly, he argues, there are dangers in a purely pastoral understanding of practical theology, since the temptation is to derive this from secular sources. Practical theology, however, is also closely related to Christian ethics, opening the further possibility that one of the tasks of practical theology might be to study and critique aspects of the secular social and political order. Turning to the nature of practice itself, Grumett reflects on Alasdair MacIntyre’s definition of practice as a complex, socially rooted, co-operative activity, through which goods intrinsic to that endeavour are actualised in the course of attaining the standards of excellence native to that activity. Grumett suggests that MacIntyre is too dependent on Aristotelian ethics which are, ultimately, epistemologically self-referential, proposing instead a proper dualism of practice and doctrine. The implications of practice as a (pre)condition for understanding are then unfolded in a profoundly illuminating way.

We need to talk – a meander

Ian M. Fraser (formerly Warden of Scottish Churches House, Executive Secretary of the World Council of Churches, and Dean of Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham)

Dr Ian Fraser reminds us, that despite modern cultural assumptions to the contrary, the Book of Genesis states that human beings are expressly forbidden ‘to work their own will on the world’. We are to fulfil God’s will, not ours, for the development of the world. On the basis of Genesis, he argues, human beings are not simply to subdue the Earth, but to take care of it and cultivate it. This cherishing of the Earth and its living beings is, therefore, our human responsibility. Referring to the development of the universe, Fraser explores the meaning of ‘creation’, and argues for the importance of dialogue between the disciplines. He returns to the text of the first chapters of Genesis which presages the history contained in the Old and New Testaments and concludes by offering a further five cosmological points for further consideration.

‘Not simply pastor-teacher, but also apostle, prophet and evangelist’: The changing role of the Church of Scotland Parish Minister

Neil Dougall (Parish Minister and formerly Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Ministries Council)

Neil Dougall sets out the five leadership roles for ministry in the Church as detailed in Ephesians 4:11, the ministries of: the apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, the pastor, and the teacher. In the Reformed churches, he reminds us, the pastor and the teacher are regarded as the ordinary, traditional offices, while the apostle, prophet and evangelist are considered to be extraordinary offices of the Church that have now ceased. Dougall argues that this emphasis was, perhaps, historically appropriate for the context of Christendom. There is a growing recognition, however, that a change in the role of the minister is becoming more necessary. Dougall offers a theological rationale for new ministries, developing towards implementation of the ministries of apostle, prophet and evangelist. He concludes by exploring the theology of T. F. Torrance concerning Christ’s High Priesthood, arguing that ministers share in the ministry of Jesus Christ.

The General Assembly of 2015

Johnston McKay (formerly Editor of Religious Broadcasting, BBC Scotland)
While in some Presbyterian Churches, discussion and analysis of Assembly debates and decisions are common this type of analysis is far less common in Scotland. In this paper, Johnston McKay offers us a survey of the debate concerning same-sex relationships in recent years, culminating in the 2015 General Assembly. He traces the history of the debate from 2009 onwards, in the events, discussions and debates following the decision of the Presbytery of Aberdeen to sustain a call to a minister in a homosexual partnership. McKay describes the divisions and tensions apparent in the Church of Scotland, but also demonstrates the way in which the introduction of a model of the Church as a ‘mixed economy’ and, then, the use of the concept of ‘constrained difference’ contributed towards a major resolution of the discussion.

Books reviewed:

  • John Hughes, ed., The Unknown God: Responses to the New Atheists
  • David Andrew Gilland, Law and Gospel in Emil Brunner’s Earlier Dialectical Theology
  • Andrew Davison, The Love of Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy for Theologians
  • J. Stephen Yuille, Looking Unto Jesus: The Christ-Centered Piety of Seventeenth-Century Baptists

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How to subscribe


The Rev. Dr Ian D. Maxwell
Uphall South Parish Church,
8 Fernlea,
Broxburn EH52 6DF
Tel. (01506) 239 840

Reviews Editor
Dr Scott Spurlock
Theology and Religious Studies
4 The Square
University of Glasgow
G12 8QQ

Production Manager
Colin Bovaird
University Library
North Street
St Andrews, Fife
KY16 9TR
Tel: (01334) 462306
Fax: (01334) 462852

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