Associate Professor Neil Pembroke
My passion for quite a long time has been working out the best way to go about practical theology. Practical theology is understood by many in the church to mean provision of helpful tips and strategies for ministry agents aiming for a more faithful and efficacious ministry. The ‘how to’ books are legion and tend to oversimplify things. I think we need to go deeper.
I do want to contribute to the very worthy aiming of practically resourcing ministry and mission. However, I believe that the best practical theology aims at both depth and practicality. The depth comes from setting up a sustained and thoughtful conversation between the Christian heritage (Bible and theology) and the best that relevant secular thought has to offer (philosophy, psychology, sociology, and more). The first step is to work out where theology and culture embrace and where they clash. We have to move past uncritical borrowing from secular thought, just as we have to move beyond a ‘the Bible is all you need’ approach. In relation to the latter, I’m very committed to the authority of Scripture, rightly interpreted. But I also believe that the Spirit blows where she wills and as a consequence truth is found in many places.
The two-way conversation (Christian heritage and secular thought) guides the development of a model of renewed practice in pastoral care, mission and evangelism, church leadership, preaching and worship, or whatever practice is being investigated. The model needs to be usable and accessible. Some of the models I’ve seen have so many moving parts that it’s hard to know what a ministry agent might make of it. My goal, then, is deep theological reflection leading to a sensible and useful model for renewal of ministry and mission. I’m still working on getting that right (!), but at least I think I have the correct aim in mind.
It’s this thinking that informs my teaching at TCQ. I love sharing the passion and appreciate very much the privilege afforded to me in that regard.
Select List of Publications
Spiritual Formation in Local Faith Communities: A Whole-Person, Prompt-Card Approach (Eugen OR: Resource Publications, 2022). Co-authored with Ewan Kelly, Theo Pleizier, William Schmidt, and Jan-Albert van den Berg.
Foundations of Pastoral Counselling: Philosophical, Theological, and Psychotherapeutic Perspectives (London: SCM Press, 2017).
Divine Therapeia and the Sermon: Theocentric Therapeutic Preaching (Eugene OR: Pickwick Publications, 2013).
Pastoral Care in Worship: Liturgy and Psychology in Dialogue (London: T&T Clark International, 2010).
Moving Toward Spiritual Maturity: Psychological, Contemplative, and Moral Challenges in Christian Living (New York: Routledge, 2007).
Renewing Pastoral Practice: Trinitarian Perspectives on Pastoral Care and Counselling (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006).
Working Relationships: Spirituality in Human Service and Organisational Life (London: Jessica Kingsley Publisher, 2004).
The Art of Listening: Dialogue, Shame and Pastoral Care (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark & Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002).
“A Spirit-Word-Community Hermeneutic for the ‘Preaching as Reimagination’ Model”, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 77(2), 2021, a6581. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i2.6581
“A Case of Therapeutic Preaching Done Well: Theological Diagnostics in Von Balthasar’s Sermon, ‘Joy in the Midst of Anxiety’”, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 75(4), 2019 a5393. https://doi.org/ 10.4102/hts.v75i4.539
“Toward a Structured, Tri-Domain Model of Companioning in Christian Formation by Pastoral Agents in a Congregational Setting: A Preliminary Report on an International Research Project.” The Journal of Pastoral Care and Counselling 72, no, 2 (2018), 104-115.
“Artistry in the Parables and in Preaching on Them”. Practical Theology 11, no. 2 (2018), 127-140.
“Correlational Theology in the Pulpit”. Pacifica 28, no. 3 (2015), 272-289.
“Two Spiritualities of Self-Emptying: Weil’s ‘Decreation’ and Merton’s Emptying out the False Self,” Studies in Spirituality 25 (2015), pp. 267-278.
“Theocentric Therapeutic Preaching: An Analogical Approach.” International Journal of Practical Theology 17, no. 2 (2013), pp. 1-22.
“Theocentric Therapeutic Preaching: A Sample Sermon with Commentary.” Practical Theology 5, no. 3 (2012), pp. 237-258.
“Pastoral Care for Shame-Based Perfectionism.” Pastoral Psychology 61 (2012), pp. 245-258.
“Sacred Love Negotiations: A Qualitative Approach to Equality and Mutuality, and Negotiating Around Needs in Marriage and Family Life in the Experience of Australian Mainline Christians,” International Journal of Practical Theology 15, no. 2 (2011), pp. 149-172.
“Equal Regard, Just Love, and Family Fairness: The Theories in Practice,” Practical Theology 4, no. 2 (2011), pp. 151-164.
“Space in the Trinity and in Pastoral Care,” The Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling 65, no. 2 (2011), pp. 1-10.
“Two Christian Spiritualities in Suffering: Biblical Lament and Weil’s Consent,” Studies in Spirituality 20 (2010), pp. 1-16.
“Beyond Blue: The Role of Ironic Imagination in Overcoming Depression,” Journal of Pastoral Theology 21, no. 1 (2011), 4.1-4.9. Retrieved from http://www.spt-jpt.org/index.php/jpth/article/view/7/7