The EDNA Model For Doing Research In Practical Theology: A Biblical Approach -- By: Noel Woodbridge

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 17:1 (Mar 2014)
Article: The EDNA Model For Doing Research In Practical Theology: A Biblical Approach
Author: Noel Woodbridge

The EDNA Model For Doing Research In Practical Theology: A Biblical Approach

Noel Woodbridge1


This article is a proposal of the EDNA model for doing practical theology using a Biblical approach. The proposed model covers four areas of research in practical theology. When placed together, these areas of research form an acronym that spells out the name EDNA: (1) Exploratory research asks: ‘What has led to the present situation? (2) Descriptive research asks: ‘What is happening now?’ (3) Normative research asks, ‘What should be happening?’ and (4) Action research asks, ‘How should we respond?’

The article is organised around these four areas of research. After grounding the EDNA model theologically and philosophically, an attempt is made to ground and describe the function of each of the EDNA model’s four areas of research in practical theology. This is done, firstly, by defining each of the four areas of research, as presented in the social sciences; secondly, by conducting a phenomenological analysis of recurring themes in a selection of recognised theological research models by prominent practical theologians to provide a grounding for each of the four areas of research; and, thirdly, by analysing the function of each

area of research in the selected models. Finally, the EDNA model is illustrated using two examples from the New Testament and also applied to the local church.

1. Introduction

Numerous models are used in practical theology research today, such as the Osmer, the Browning, the DECIDE and the LIM models. Zerfass (1974:166) defines a model as ‘a set order of signs and interconnections which should correspond to a certain number of relevant characteristics within reality, in real circumstances’.

As a researcher, one might choose to utilise one of the following models in practical theology: ‘Paul Ballard and John Pritchard’s “Pastoral Cycle” of experience-exploration-reflection-action or Richard Osmer’s “four tasks” of empirical-interpretive-theological-pragmatic’ (20). However, whichever model you might choose in your research programme, your approach should be able to answer the following questions: ‘“What is going on?” “Why is it going on?” “What ought to be going on?” and “How might we respond?”’ (The Reflective Practitioner 2013:20).

However, despite the variety of models today, the author contends that there is a need for an optimal model for doing theology from a biblical perspective. The Osmer model is currently one of the m...

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