A theology of public life by Charles T. Mathewes

By Charles T. Mathewes

What has Washington to do with Jerusalem? within the raging debates in regards to the dating among faith and politics, nobody has explored the non secular merits and demanding situations of public engagement for Christian believers - beforehand. This publication defends and info Christian believers' engagement in modern pluralistic public lifestyles no longer from the viewpoint of a few impartial 'public', yet from the actual viewpoint of Christian religion, arguing that such engagement enriches either public lifestyles and Christian electorate' religion themselves. As such it bargains no longer a 'public theology', yet a 'theology of public life', analysing the promise and perils of Christian public engagement, discussing the character of civic dedication and prophetic critique, and the relation of a loving religion to a liberal politics of justice. Theologically wealthy, philosophically rigorous, politically, traditionally and sociologically trained, this publication advances modern dialogue of 'religion and public existence' in primary methods.

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Thus part of this book’s task is to explain why his reputation is wrong; and so the book insinuates, and occasionally explicitly urges, a particular revision of our understanding of the Augustinian tradition of Christian thought. I should briefly sketch this revision here. 25. For life ‘‘in the middle,’’ see Bonhoeffer 1997: 28. Von Balthasar’s contrast between ‘‘epic’’ and ‘‘dramatic’’ modes of theology is relevant here as well; see von Balthasar 1988a and Healey 2000. For more about the contrast between ‘‘eschatological’’ and ‘‘apocalyptic’’ modes of being, see the Introduction to Part I.

This dynamism toward the other has historically been understood as evangelization, and that certainly has a role to play in its future. But it may perhaps be better manifest indirectly, in an unapologetic confessional openness about one’s own motivations and rationale for operating in the public sphere. In any event, Christians will not know what ‘‘evangelism’’ might mean unless we think deeply about Christianity’s missiological energies and how they should be best inhabited today. It is not anywhere near an effective strategy just to bury one’s head in the sand and simply ignore this aspect of the faith.

Not only is Augustine’s thought more readily apprehensible by the book’s core audience; his thought is also especially fruitful for thinking about public life and ‘‘worldliness’’ more generally. This may be surprising, given Augustine’s reputation as a metaphysical escapist and gloomy worldly pessimist. Thus part of this book’s task is to explain why his reputation is wrong; and so the book insinuates, and occasionally explicitly urges, a particular revision of our understanding of the Augustinian tradition of Christian thought.

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