Searching for the missing theology in the Nordic discussion of practice

Article by Auli Vähäkangas in Studia Theologica – Nordic Journal of Theology.

The aim of this article is to analyse the relationship between theory and practice and the role of theology in this discussion. The data is formed from writings of prominent scholars who are active in the International Association of Practical Theology (IAPT). The relationship between theory and practice is crucial when we try to answer what role theology has when studying practices. Nordic Practical Theology has traditionally studied pastoral care, liturgy and homiletics in the majority Lutheran contexts. However, today there is a need to expand to various faith communities and a wider variety of practices. This new research has to acknowledge the changed pluralistic context and how it challenges the role of religion/religions in the Nordic societies and how it challenges theological studies as well. Emerging topics in the Nordic context are connected with the pluralistic context in changing Nordic societies, with sexuality/gender as well as with issues connected with rituals. All of these topics connect practice and theory together and require deep theological reflection in which embodiment is acknowledged. My model, Theology of Encounter, is an example of theological reflection over a central religious practice of counselling.