Original Research

The narrative turn in practical theology: A discussion of Julian Müller’s narrative approach

Jaco S. Dreyer
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 35, No 2 | a889 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v35i2.889 | © 2014 Jaco S. Dreyer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 June 2013 | Published: 06 August 2014

About the author(s)

Jaco S. Dreyer, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, South Africa


The importance of narrative for practical theology is today widely recognised, both nationally and internationally. There is, however, disagreement amongst practical theologians regarding the scope and role of narrative in practical theological methodology. The practical theologian Julian Müller made, and continues to make, an important contribution to the methodology of practical theology through his narrative approach. The aim of this article was to contribute to the ongoing methodological discussion about the scope and role of narrative approaches in practical theology. Müller’s narrative approach was discussed against the backdrop of the narrative turn in the human and social sciences. It was concluded that Müller’s narrative approach reveals some of the key tensions in practical theological methodology. His metaphorical narrative approach, as a representative of the poetic pole in the methodological debate, helps to guard practical theology from losing its transformative orientation and its vital connection with religious practice. Embracing a variety of approaches could help practical theologians to steer between the Scylla of a one-sidedly scientific practical theology and the Charybdis of the triumph of the immediacy of praxis.


Narrative, Julian C. Müller, methodology of practical theology, narrative turn, narrative as metaphor, narratology, dialogic pluralist response


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