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'Something will crack': Richard Rorty Prophesied Rise of a Strongman
How Neoliberalism Prepared The Way For Donald Trump
Nancy Fraser: Subaltern Counterpublics
Donald Trump as Authoritarian Populist: A Frommian Analysis
Confronting Religious Revivalism
Walter Benjamin: Fascism and Crisis
Origins of Racism and Colonialism in Western Political Philosophy
Foucault, Neoliberalism, and Current Social Policy
Signs of Chaos are Everywhere; A New Politics is Possible?
On Deconstruction and the Messianic
The Concept of the Migrant in Political Theory (and Christianity)
If Republican Tea Party Libertarians Gain Power, All of America will become the South
Toward a New Democratic Solidarity in the Eurozone
The Absence of Absolute Normative Force in Modern Political Philosophy
The Battle for a New Universalism for a Global Future after the Paris Massacres
Public Power is Losing Legitimacy
The End of 'Grand Narratives' and America’s 'Spiritual Recession'
Now-Time, the Messianic, and Consumer Alienation in Walter Benjamin
Moving Beyond the Dangerous Tea Party Myths
The Foundation of Freedom of Choice
Conserving Hierarchies of Power
The Drive Thru Jesus of the Church of Free Market Miracles: Finding Another Way
The Force of the Future: A Globalized, Cosmopolitan Passion for Justice
The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere
The Punishing State: Walter Benjamin and the Current Catastrophes of History
The Paralysis of Critical Consciousness: A New Type of Human Being
Political Acts under Conditions of Permanent Economic Emergency
Once upon a Time...There was Art and Literature in America
Redeeming the Sixties: Herbert Marcuse and the Formation of Political Language
Rule by a Capitalist Minority is Not Much Different from Rule by a Communist Minority
Kierkegaard in Contemporary Philosophy
John Rawls: Secularized Calvinism, Moralized Protestant Vocationalism
The Religion of John Rawls: An Anti-meritocratic, Egalitarian Conception of Distributive Justice
Unbridgeable Gaps: Habermas on Religion and Critical Theory
A Proper Role for Religion in the Public Sphere
Multitude: Philosophy for the Future?
Governing Citizens: Genealogy, Critique, Politics
Robert Kennedy on Aeschylus
Does Society Need God?
A New Focus on Public Sociology
Transcending the Liberal-Conservative Divide
Max Weber and National Socialism
Leo Strauss and Neoconservatism
THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS
George Will Promotes Ideology Not Policy
What is Enlightenment?
The Unrest is Growing: Habermas in Iran
American National Pride
Violence and Justice in a Global Age
In every age Christian faith must be articulated into the real world at the time. Contemporary theology chooses, explicitly or implicitly, some way of thinking in the world which, it is thought, best describes the conditions of the times. When the Apostle Paul preached the gospel into the Greek world he had to do so through the language and ways of thinking which characterized that world. This greatly affected the message coming from Jewish sources and this remains a major issue in contemporary biblical studies.
Another example is the current religious right. It emerged from the late 19th and early 20th century battles between the church and the views of science prevalent at that time. The so-called Christian right continues to be locked into that framework for its faith understanding and articulation. In the meantime science has changed very considerably and has had large impacts through the professions on modern economies and societies creating serious conflicts and issues which the religious right can barely see let alone help in constructive theological understanding.
At this website we will explore various philosophical and scientific approaches to understanding the world. The disciplines of sociology, anthropology, political theory and, especially, history, are important for both biblical and theological research.
The phrase "Public Theology" has been used to refer to efforts to reflect on the relation of theology and the philosophy of the German thinker Jurgen Habermas (right photo) who has emerged from the school of thought known as critical social theory. This theory began in the era of Hitler's Germany and examines the fundamental presuppositions of Enlightenment thought, its central belief in the efficacy of reason, and how modern socities under the influence of science have created conditions threatening fundamental human meanings, structures, and relationships.
One of the original members of the Frankfurt School of critical social theory is Walter Benjamin (photo at top), who continues to be widely read today. One primary resource for a contemporary Protestant Public Theology is his writing about messianic history, "Theses On the Concept of History," in contrast with the political philosophy of the Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt. An excellent series of articles on Benjamin have been written by Andrew Robinson at Ceasefire, a UK journal.
At this site we also are interested in the philosophical orientation known as postmodernism because it too examines the ways human life has changed with the implementation of Enlightenment thought through the several "Enlightenment institutions." So we are interested in persons such as the French philosopher Michel Foucault who, though he died in 1984, continues to be widely read. He studied the history of specific modern institutions such as the clinic, the prison, and government, a practices related to sexuality. He believed that the "pastoral power" of the church in the middle ages has been taken over by modern governments which have become concerned with the whole life of each member of the population.
The critiques of modernity by social critical theory and postmodernism run much deeper than those of the contemporary religious right which trivializes key moral and sexual issues and makes it seem that theology has nothing to contribute to serious thought about these issues. We want to provide a place for deeper reflection about these matters and invite inquiries from pastors and scholars about how to proceed.
Here is an interesting comment on philosophy from Paul Tillich who interacted with some of the members of the Frankfurt Institute:
"It seems to me that the oldest definition given to philosophy is, at the same time, the newest and that which always was and always will be valid: Philosophy is that cognitive endeavor in which the question of being is asked. ... The question of being is not the question of any special being, its existence and nature, but it is the question of what it means to *be*. It is the simplest, most profound, and absolutely inexhaustible question - the question of what it means to say that something *is*. This word 'is' hides the riddle of all riddles, the mystery that there is anything at all. Every philosophy, whether it asks the question of being openly or not, moves around this mystery, has a partial answer to it, whether acknowledged or not, but is generally at a loss to answer it fully. Philosophy is always in what the Greeks called *aporia* ('without a way'), that is, in a state of perplexity about the nature of being. For this inquiry I like to use the word 'ontology,' derived from *logos* ('the word') and *on* ('being'); that is, the word of being, the word which grasps being, makes its nature manifest, drives it out of its hiddenness into the light of knowledge."
Paul Tillich, Biblical Religion and the Search for Ultimate Reality, 1955
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