Theology in the Public Sphere
Public Theology as a Catalyst for Open Debate
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Theology in the Public Sphere discusses the nature, methodology and issues in formulating public theology, the engagement of living religious traditions with their public environment - the economic, political and cultural spheres of common life.
Public theology has emerged as theologians wrestle with the problem of the privatisation of Christian faith and seek to engage in dialogue with those outside church circles on various issues, urging Christians to participate in the public domain. It provides an alternative mode of engagement to any form of monopoly in public life by promoting critical inquiry and open debate.
This landmark volume outlines a constructive model of doing theology in the public sphere. UIt draws on the author's extensive experience in a number of different international contexts and shows how public theological thinking is applied to a number of recent case studies such as the Danish cartoon affair, the debate about Sharia Law and the churches involvement in reconciliation.
Contents: Part I. Exploring public theology
1.Introduction:Theology and the public sphere
2. The Bible as a public book: Perspectives from global Christianity
3. Doing public theology: The example of eco-theology
Part II. Public theology in global contexts
4. The church as a public body: Exclusion and the quest for authentic community in India
5. Socio-political reconciliation: Struggles against injustice and division in Korea
6. Global economic justice: Latin American initiatives to overcome inequalities
7. Peace-building: The response of the Western churches to the Iraq War
Part III. Public theology in Europe
8. Interactive pluralism in multicultural society: Rowan Williams’ lecture on Sharia Law
9. Freedom of expression versus respect for faith: The Danish cartoons
10. Community identity and critical dialogue: The Racial and Religious Hatred Bill
How to engage in the public sphere is one of the leading questions for religious traditions in the twenty-first century. Professor Kim, writing out of a rich experience of global Christianity, gives a wise, practical and well-researched public theology that achieves a good balance between description, critique and constructive contribution. He wrestles with the really important questions and presents illuminating case studies from many countries. Above all he offers a sound framework for debate and further creative thought and action not only by theologians but also by ordinary citizens inside and outside the churches. -- David F. Ford, University of Cambridge
Sebastian Kim is one of the most important global voices in the new conversation on public theology taking place around the world today. With this landmark book he shares his distinctive cross-cultural wisdom and profound scholarly insights on how theology can engage faithfully and effectively with a range of issues in the public sphere. I commend Theology in the Public Sphere to a wide readership in the Church, academy and public life - it is written with clarity and conviction, challenging us all to think and act wisely as citizens and disciples in a global era.--William Storrar, Director of the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton
Drawing on contemporary examples from around the globe including India, Korea and South America, Professor Kim demonstrates how public theology is extending the church’s core concerns for justice, community and the well being into the broader public sphere. This book will challenge Christians to engage more widely beyond the church and to understand the contribution which Christian theology can make in particularly in ethics, ecology and conflict resolution. -- John Sentamu, Archbishop of York
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