Download A theology of public life by Charles T. Mathewes PDF

By Charles T. Mathewes

What has Washington to do with Jerusalem? within the raging debates concerning the dating among faith and politics, not anyone has explored the spiritual advantages and demanding situations of public engagement for Christian believers - earlier. This booklet 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 point of view of Christian religion, arguing that such engagement enriches either public lifestyles and Christian voters' 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 expert, this e-book advances modern dialogue of 'religion and public existence' in basic methods.

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So we should come to be ever more fully open to the sufferings that mark our lives during the world, most fundamentally as a mode of being in time, indeed of receiving the gift of time itself from God. But this openness to suffering, this practice of ‘‘confessional openness,’’ itself holds a further potential pitfall. For one more of our canny strategies is to see such suffering as a technology we can employ to fix ourselves – a way we can keep in charge of ourselves, alone and autonomous – and thus just one more of privacy’s guises.

In seeking such a program of Christian formation we find much help in Augustine’s work. 11 He was deeply sensitive to the way humans could turn anything to sinful use, and he saw the dangers of a Christian complacency all too vividly in the church of his day. 12 We can do that by drawing a distinction between what we can call the apocalyptic and the eschatological imaginations. Apocalypticism is fundamentally an epistemological attitude, a claim already to know. The Greek word apokalypto¯ means ‘‘to unveil’’ or ‘‘disclose’’; it suggests a mindset that basically looks to the future as an already determined and knowable reality.

Existentially, the critics suspect that the account suffers from a deep wistfulness and ressentiment, a despair at our existence that expresses itself in a longing to be altogether elsewhere. 6 These suspicions merit substantial engagement, and this book returns to them repeatedly; I will only offer a summary of my response to them here. Speaking metaphysically, the value of this language lies in its immense critical leverage, its potential for a quite radical critique of the status quo. Admittedly the concept can be ruthlessly simplifying, but it allows us to ‘‘denaturalize’’ reality as we find it, to render radically contingent ‘‘the way the world is,’’ and thus to open up an imaginative space of incredible opportunity.

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