Original Research - Special Collection: Impact of Reformed Theology

Making theology practical: The inclusion of experiencia fide in the contextualisation of practical theological training

Amanda L. du Plessis
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 54, No 2 | a2542 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v54i2.2542 | © 2020 Amanda L. du Plessis | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 October 2019 | Published: 23 April 2020

About the author(s)

Amanda L. du Plessis, The Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Currently, South African state-subsidised universities experience pressure and uncertainty regarding future theological training. This became evident after the call for decolonisation of the university’s curriculum. The concepts of colonisation, decolonisation and contextualisation are inseparably linked to the issue of culture. Culture is dynamic and vibrant. Wherever a group of people is together, for instance a group of students in a university classroom, culture or a new context originates. Where past theological training – even practical theological training – has purely rested on cognitio, the contextualisation of theological training involves cognitio and experiencia fide. Experience can serve as a hermeneutical key in the explanation of scripture. Although the work of Calvin is considered as the groundwork for reformed theology, his emphasis on human experiences is often left behind. To Calvin, experiential preaching addresses the vital matter of how believers experience the truth of Christian doctrine in their specific cultural circumstances. A reformational-biblical view of contextualisation of theological training is to find a balance between experience and cognition, where grace restores nature. The aim of this article was to explore the contextualisation of the practical theological curriculum for the students (or believers) to apply the divine truth to the whole range of their personal experiences. Theological training, and for that matter, Christianity, should not only be known, understood and believed, but also felt, enjoyed and practically applied.


Contextualization; Practical Theology; Pastoral training; Pastoral curriculum; Experiencia fide; Theology made practical


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Crossref Citations

1. Contextual pastoral education for responsible citizenship in a complex South Africa
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doi: 10.4102/hts.v79i1.8462