The Art of Theological Reflection

by Patricia O'Connell Killen, John DeBeer. Crossroad Publishing Co., 1994.

How can I help my congregation weave its experiences in life and our religious traditions into a single story of faithfulness? The authors believe that experience can meet Christian tradition in meaningful conversation through the process of theological reflection. New understandings are possible for those willing to explore this meeting of theology and experience without predetermined conclusions.

The authors explain standard theological reflection practices, make innovative suggestions, and develop a clearly defined process. Useful for the individual, their process of theological reflection is enriched by the input and support of a group.

Nine examples display the wide applicability of the process. Typically, reflection moves from images to varied and specific meanings of the experience under study. Scriptural references encourage new perspectives and insights. Through commitment and attention to detail, belief and life experience are integrated—and in the process, new actions and new reflection are fostered.

The leader must prayerfully make extensive preparations, being clear about the people, purpose, parameters, presence, and process involved. Each of these areas is explained. Working toward religious maturity, group participants must agree to honesty, vulnerability, sensitivity, and compassion within each session.

'The Art of Theological Reflection' is written for congregational leaders, of any denomination, who are willing to invest self and time into creating the appropriate environment and context for the participants. Leaders are provided with a sufficient framework and preparatory information for a rewarding journey toward the integration of life experience and religious tradition.