Over the past few decades, theologians have recognised the value of practice but have been
optimistic about the ease with which practice is incorporated into theology. People use all sorts
of adjectives to characterise the complex relationship – ‘integrally related’, a ‘deeper reciprocity’,
‘bound up in thickly intertwined ways’ – but connecting the two is not as easy as these words
suggest. This article returns to the age-old question about the relationship between theory
and practice. But it studies this question from the angle of practice. Although many scholars
have analysed the distinction between theory and practice as it functions conceptually, few
have examined challenges in relating the two as they emerge in practice. The article argues that
there is an inevitable distinction between theory and practice that receives considerably less
attention and needs more understanding and even respect. It also argues that the discipline of
practical theology adds a distinctive angle on this discussion because it considers how the
concepts function practically.
Prof. Dr Miller-McLemore is
participating in the research
project ‘Gender Studies and
Practical Theology Theory
Formation’, directed by Prof.
Dr Yolanda Dreyer,
Department of Practical
Theology, Faculty of Theology,
University of Pretoria.
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