In this refreshing autobiographical engagement of the discipline of Practical Theology, Eric Stoddart calls for a radical, postcolonial, global, justice-seeking and ethically liberative approach to the objectives of the craft based on the notion of critical discipleship. Stoddart practices what he calls for as he reflects critically on his own faith journey, facilitates a small group of ordinary (lay) people's wrestling with the political issue of Scottish Independence and critically reviews a recent landmark book publication on the discipline. Advancing Practical Theology is a welcome, polemical, international and very readable book that offers pointers for the future of a discipline that having come of age needs to move courageously forward on the path of actually making a difference in the world.
This is a remarkable book - keen, perceptive, and fiercely honest. Eric Stoddart writes from the depths of lived experience, and with all the particularity of his Scottish ecclesial heritage, to advance a way of doing theology which is resolutely and rigorously practical. Here is an ambitious manifesto for a practical theology which is radically coming of age.
'In Advancing Practical Theology, Eric Stoddart beautifully displays his rare talent. He breathes life into the dry bones of methodological discussion through a judicious and deeply engaging use of humour, personal narrative, deft unpacking of complex theories, and highly illuminating case studies. Running through Stoddard's fascinating forays into the nature and method of the discipline is a crucially important theme: practical theology is not only analysis of practice, but much more fundamentally engagement with what it means to be Christian in interpersonal and socio-political contexts."
Eric Stoddart has done the practical theology 'imagined community' a great service by recalling us to a radical commitment. Using his personal story and a story of 'shared praxis' (the coming independence vote in Scotland), he grounds the understanding of practical theology in a complex network of contexts, experiences and traditions. He challenges the too easy and comfortable world which even practical theologians may inhabit, calling us to a more critical discipleship. This is a book which will set the cat among the pigeons.
Stoddart's methodology and writing style are quite deliberate, as he endeavors to embody the very practices of the discipline of practical theology he hopes to espouse.