Akin, Daniel L., Pace, R. Scott. Pastoral Theology: Theological Foundations for Who A Pastor Is and What He Does. Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2017. 319 pp. $29.99.
The heart of this book, Pastoral Theology, by Daniel Akin and R. Scott Pace can be found on the unnumbered dedication page, where it reads, “To the shepherds who labor faithfully among the sheep, for the precious flocks they pastor, and for the glory of our Chief Shepherd”. The drive behind this beautiful collection of words can be found in the introduction, “While many pastoral ministry books focus on the pragmatic how-to of pastoral ministry, rarely do they address the why of pastoral ministry. But answering the why question is crucial to our survival and success as pastors.”(p.2).
Normally, when I begin to read a book on pastoring, while I get excited to learn and grow more, I am often hesitant because of the drudgery of familiarity from one pastoral book to the next. Pastoral Theology, however, was a breath of fresh air, or even a refreshing drink from a crystal-clear mountain spring in that I didn’t want to put it down. Not only do Akin and Pace thoroughly explain the why behind most everything the pastor does in such a way that it would helpfully encourage any pastor who reads it, the written words therein also pull open the blinds to what goes on in the minds of those biblically faithful pastors. Too often are pastors misunderstood by their congregations, their communities, and often by other pastors. As someone who is not a pastor, Pastoral Theology drove me to pray for my pastor and friends who are pastors several times while reading through its pages.
Pastoral Theology is broken down into three critical sections. The first being “Trinitarian Foundation,” in which they explore the triune nature of God and the implications therein for pastors and pastoring. The second section is entitled “Doctrinal Formulations,” exploring one’s understanding of the pastorate from an anthropological point of view, as well as that of the doctrine of the church, and also that of a missiological viewpoint. The third and last section of Pastoral Theology is titled “Practical Facilitation,” which one could almost call the “Application” section of this treatise on the pastorate. Here, Akin and Pace explore who God’s people are and the relationship of Jesus being the shepherd. Also, they look how pastors are to feed the flock of God. They end the book with a great, fruitful, and encouraging discourse on how leading one’s family and shepherding the flock are two sides of the same coin, that you cannot lead God’s people if you are not leading your family in God-glorifying manner.
Each chapter of Pastoral Theology is broken down into several sections. The chapters begin with an introduction, often complete with a parable-like illustration to help us understand the important Scripture based truths that are strewn throughout these pages. The chapters then move on to the “Theological Premise” of the idea, systematically going through Scripture to thoroughly show where this premise fits within the overarching grand narrative of God’s Word. For example, in chapter 4 on Pneumatology, the study of the Holy Spirit, the Theological Premise is broken down into “The Person of the Holy Spirit,” and “The Work of the Holy Spirit.” The next section comes in the form of “Biblical Precepts,” which takes the reader on a journey to the various examples throughout Scriptures regarding the main Biblical topic of the chapter. The last section of the chapter are the “Pastoral Principles,” which is the section that brings all the aforementioned parts of the chapter together to reveal how it all fits together within the realm of pastoring. The “Pastoral Principles” is what ties each piece of the puzzle together, chapter by chapter. Each chapter also has a conclusion, giving an overview of what was read, the ideas (both theological and doctrinally) behind what was read, and in a quick way, how it is all connected.
Pastoral Theology is truly an excellent work that should be on the shelves of pastors anywhere and everywhere, as well as in the hands of lay-leaders, and just regular lay persons, within the church. I highly recommend this book to any and all.
Dr. Daniel Akin is the current president of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, as well as a professor of preaching and theology. Dr. Akin has long felt that pastors must not just be pastors, but “pastor-theologian-missionary-evangelists”, and thus has much experience in all facets of that. Not only is he the president of SEBTS as well as a professor, Dr. Akin has traveled all over the globe, from Thailand to Europe to the Middle East and more, doing missionary work. He also has worked for and taught alongside some of the best and brightest minds in evangelical academia.
Dr. R. Scott Pace brings to the table numerous years of pastoral experience as well great experience in being not only a pastor, but also a theologian, missionary, and evangelist. Currently, Dr. Pace serves as the Reverend A.E. and Dora Johnson Hughes Chair of Christian Ministry as well as being an Associate Professor of Applied Ministry at the Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, OK. Dr. Pace has traveled the world teaching, ministering, and preaching, having reached believers and non-believers in Malaysia, Kenya, Mexico, Jordan, Israel, and Puerto Rico.
Together, Dr. Akin and Dr. Pace have wrought a book that is true to it’s title, Pastoral Theology, in that puts forth a true systematic approach to the theological implications found “behind” one’s calling and reasoning for being a pastor.