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Jesus Defanged: An Angry Musing about the Church  12/13/2013 
Greg Cusack: Article  In a world of such gross injustice the church still talks about Jesus in ways that are safe and easy but also boring The words of Jesus actually challenge us, seriously!

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth  8/22/2013 
Greg Cusack: Article  Here is a very positive review of the popular book by Reza Aslan, a real 'page-turner' for this kind of book.

A Global Public Theology and Civil Society  8/6/2013 
Robert N. Bellah: Article  A major figure in sociology discusses his current views on civil religion along with neoliberalism, Jurgen Habermas, Michael Walzer, the Iraq war, and George Bush's National Security Strategy.

Jesus and Paul, Both Zealots, and the Origins of Christian Faith  8/1/2013 
Ed Knudson: Article  Reza Aslan has written a book about Jesus called 'Zealot' making him out to be a political radical. It's a good book, worth reading, even if he gets the Apostle Paul entirely wrong.

A Liberation Spirituality for the Public Church  2/10/2012 
Michael Lee: Article  Michael Lee represents a new generation of Catholic theologians. He here explains the significance of liberation theology for the United States.

Jesus Versus the Republican Candidates  2/8/2012 
Gary Kamiya: Article  The man from Nazareth would have been appalled by the 'Christian' Republican candidates. Research on Jesus reveals he was overwhelmingly concerned for the poor.

A True Public Theology: Grounded with the Crucified Peoples of History  1/9/2012 
Chris Hedges: Article  A new book by James Cone, 'The Cross and the Lynching Tree,' points to the reality of faith in a way neither Barth nor Niebuhr could do. Black theology points the way forward for the Protestant church

Subversive Remembering for the Sake of the World: Ecclesia in Times of Downturn  11/7/2011 
Karen L. Bloomquist: Article  Creative theological thinking needs to be encouraged and deepened in light of the urgent economic, political, cultural challenges today.

Fundamentalism is Created by Modernism  12/24/2010 
Alan Wolfe: Article  Neither Christian nor Islamic fundamentalists represent historic faiths. They are reactions to modernism which take on the features and beliefs of their enemies. Christmas is an example.

The Cry of the Oppressed in America is being Successfully Organized by a Fascist Religious Right  9/26/2010 
Chris Hedges: Article  The more political and economic systems fail the working/middle class, the more they are turning to religion to express their rage.

The Good and the Bad in American Experience  9/14/2010 
Andrew Finstuen: Article  The right-wing idea of American exceptionalism espoused by Glenn Beck is discussed here. The country's exceptional leaders did not seek to cover up its violent history.

The Power and the Glory: Giorgio Agamben on Economic Theology  6/28/2010 
Giorgio Agamben: Article  This is a transcript of a talk given by Agamben in Turino on January 11, 2007, continuing the studies of Michel Foucault on the genealogy of governance.

Capitalism as Monstrous Religion  6/26/2010 
Michael Löwy: Article  Capitalism produces guilt, despair, and an iron cage, according to an unusual group of thinkers reading Weber during the Weimar period in Germany. Bloch, Benjamin, Lukacs, and Fromm are discussed.

A Militant Public Theology for the Agonistic City  6/25/2010 
James W. Perkinson: Article  The meanings of living in suburb and city are discussed in the context of the life of Jesus, the prophetic heritage of Israel, and global capitalism.

Sovereign Power, Bare Life and Oikonomia  5/19/2010 
Giorgio Agamben: Article  'I would suggest to anyone who really wants to understand what is happening today not to neglect theology.' This deals with Foucault, religion, economy, and the glorification of market mystery.

The Foolish Death March of Cultural Capitalism  5/19/2010 
Chris Hedges: Article  The Gulf oil spill of B.P. is the result of business schools and universities churning out deaf, dumb and blind systems mangers without morality, common sense, compassion or remorse, little Eichmanns.

The Paradoxical Vision in Canadian Context  5/10/2010 
Sherrie Steiner: Article  Here is a perspective on 'public theology' from Canada which discusses a book by Robert Benne and is concerned with his polemical advocacy, individualism and civil religion.

The Evangelical-Capitalist Resonance Machine  3/7/2010 
William E. Connolly: Article  In a key document for public theology, the author examines the 'resonance' of existential resentment among cowboy capitalism, electronic news media, the Republican Party and evangelicalism.

Has America Invented a False God?   2/23/2010 
Davey Henreckson: Article  The author wonders about the Americanization of Christianity after reading Mark Noll's book on America's God.

The Crowd is Untruth: a Comparison of Kierkegaard and Girard  2/14/2010 
Charels K. Bellinger: Article  Concepts and language concerning religion and violence, memesis, the scapegoat, and the nature of human being in anxiety are discussed in this article. Key concepts for a public theology today.

Key Document for a Protestant Public Theology  2/4/2010 
Ed Knudson: Article  A recent interview with Jurgen Habermas provides an excellent framework for thinking about the contours of a public theology today, including the concept of egalitarian universalism.

A Public Theology for the 21st Century: Domination or Community  1/24/2010 
Arthur Waskow: Article  In the midst of the earthquake of modernity there is time to dance the Dance of Life, the Dance of God. Can different religious communities create new and more inclusive forms of planetary community?

Liberation Theology is Alive and Well  11/19/2009 
Walter Altmann: Article  Lutheran church president in Brazil talks about the continuing importance of liberation theology and its role in South America and influence in global work of the church.

Fall of Berlin Wall Felt around the World  11/11/2009 
Stephen Brown: Article  South Africa changed its government after the Cold War ended. It wasn't a 'victory' for capitalism but a transformation toward a globalized world.

Why Fundamentalisms of All Kinds are Failing  11/9/2009 
Harvey Cox: Article  The author of a new book on The Future of Faith explains why fundamentalism is incapable of sustaining itself.

Apophasis: The Breakdown of Speech about God  11/4/2009 
Brian McGrath Davis: Article  A review of a book by Karen Armstrong, The Case for God, suggests that faith as intellectual assent to propositions misses what has been most important about God-talk.

The Dangerous and Deepening Inferiority Complex of the Religious and Republican Right  10/13/2009 
Frank Schaeffer: Article  Here is a strong critique of the religious right by the son of one of its founders. The painter Marc Chagall is lifted up as a model of helpful faith.

Civil Courage and Public Responsibility  6/7/2009 
Article  Here is a segment of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's last writings in prison before he was hanged by the Nazis. He speaks against moral fanaticism.

Primarily a Pastor: The Social Gospel of Walter Rauschenbusch  5/8/2009 
Julian Gotobed: Article  There is no more important figure in the history of public theology than Rauschenbusch. Here is a full introduction to his work.

The Public Theology of Harry F. Ward  5/6/2009 
Article  In 1918 Harry Ward gave a talk which continues to have relevance today in relation to both international peace and economic justice.

John Calvin Would Have Seen This Crisis Coming  5/5/2009 
Henry G. Brinton: Article  The Protestant Reformer, born 500 years ago, could teach us a thing or two about fiscal idolatry, diplomacy and democracy. But would we listen?

Reinhold Niebuhr and the Prospects for Justice in America  4/24/2009 
Mark Jensen: Article  Some folks still show up to hear something about Niebuhr, the best known public theologian of the 20th century and one who has been called 'Obama's theologian'.

Liberation Theology in the Wesleyan and Holiness Tradition  4/23/2009 
Donald W. Dayton: Article  The preferential option for the poor is discussed here in reference to John Wesley and the holiness movement which emerged from Methodism.

Fundamentalism: A Pathological Condition of Christianity  4/23/2009 
Donald W. Dayton: Article  A book on fundamentalism by James Barr is reviewed with a focus on the false doctrine of biblical inerrancy and its difference from evangelicalism.

A Protestant Liberation Theology  4/23/2009 
Frederick Herzog: Article  A review of a book by Richard Shaull on the relation of the Reformation and Liberation Theology.

Crossing the Divide: Luther, Feminism, and the Cross  4/22/2009 
Cheryl Peterson: Article  A review of a book by Deanna A. Thompson who joins a growing list of Protestant feminist theologians examining 16th century reformers.

Towards a Postmodern Theology of the Hem  3/15/2009 
John McKeever: Article  From Dublin, Ireland, McKeever speaks of theology for the growing numbers of people at the edges of society, in the informal sector of surplus populations, at the doorsteps of the church.

Congregations as Communities of Interpretation  3/7/2009 
Ed Knudson: Article  The bible contains many communities of interpretation, not one view of God or ethics. This presents the possibility of a new Protestant Public Theology manifested by pastors in local congregations.

The Sickness Unto Death  2/19/2009 
Ed Knudson: Article  A book by Sören Kierkegaard probes the depth of existential reality, a dimension so many modern folks avoid. Basic questions of truth are at stake here for a public theology for today.

Death of a Theocon: Richard John Neuhaus  1/18/2009 
Ed Knudson: Article  The neoconservative movement loses its primary theological spokesperson.

Most Southern Baptist Pastors are not Real Protestants  9/29/2008 
Ed Knudson: Article  A report from George Barna and Associates reveals that many pastors supporting Republican politics have a false biblical worldview.

Bible Interpretation: A Canon within the Canon  2/28/2005 
Ed Knudson: Article  Episcopal leader Paul Zahl talks about how to read the bible in The Witness magazine.

The Public Theology of Reinhold Niebuhr  2/22/2005 
Robin Lovin: Article  Public radio's Speaking of Faith presents a series on Moral Man and Immoral Society including an essay by Robin Lovin.

Christ in Postmodern Perspective  2/7/2005 
Ed Knudson: Article  Colin J. D. Greene of Seattle Pacific University has written an excellent book on Christology.

Faith-Based Lunatics in the White House  2/1/2005 
Ed Knudson: Article  Should people of faith really be called lunatics?

God's Politics - A Call for Progressive Faith  1/26/2005 
Jim Wallis: Article  Jim Wallis writes about how his new book tour is going.

Weak on Sanctification?  1/13/2005 
Ed Schroeder: Article  On the question of whether Lutherans emphasize justification so much that they ignore how Christians should live their lives.

Luther's Mystical Theology  1/5/2005 
Eric Jonas Swensson: Reprint  Swensson discusses 'the believer's participation in the life of God'.

Union with Christ: The New Finnish Interpretation of Luther  1/5/2005 
Michael Plekon: Reprint  Review of book by Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson by an Orthodox writer.

How Could God Allow This Tsunami?  1/3/2005 
Michael Lerner: Article  The editor of of Tikkun Magazine talks about theodicy, tsunami, and 29,000 children dying every day.

Jurgen Moltmann: The Theology of Hope   1/2/2005 
Reprint  A famous chapter in an important work in public theology.

Query: Who is Doing Theological Interpretation of Current History?  1/1/2005 
Ed Knudson: Article  Please help us identify theologians who are interpreting current history. We need a modern Agabus. Jared Diamond writes about why societies decline.

Exocentricity: Human Openness to the World  12/21/2004 
Ed Knudson: Article  Reflections on the nature of the self based on reading Wolfhart Pannenberg.

Links for Study of Evangelicalism  9/22/2004 
WebLink  This is a good resource for those interested in learning more about the religious right and evangelicals.

The Christian Religious Right is Wrong   9/10/2004 
Article  The Christian religious right maintains a hierarchical, authoritarian, punitive, isolationist system of values, theologically as well as politically.

George W. Bush & the Unreligious Right   9/9/2004 
Article  Joseph J. Martos has written a book, available online, which asks serious moral questions about the presidency of George W. Bush.

Confronting Christian Zionism   7/22/2004 
Comment  The Prebyterian Church U.S.A. has in its recent General Assembly addressed the issue of Christian Zionism.

Wrestling with the Divine: God, Darwin and Evolution   6/3/2004 
Article  Denis O. Lamoureux of St. Joseph’s College, University of Alberta, writes about Darwin on the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Jesus Plus Nothing: The Political Right at Bible Study   3/17/2004 
Reprint  Originally from Harpers Magazine, March 2003, by Jeffrey Sharlet, discusses 'the family' in Washington D.C.

Dominionist Theology Promotes American Theocracy   3/17/2004 
Article  Alabama Judge Roy Moore advocates the Constitution Restoration Act which would limit the Supreme Court in issues of church and state.

Theologians Under Hitler   2/1/2004 
Note  Notes for an article

Apocalyptic and Apophatic in David Tracy   9/16/2003 
Article  David Tracy is a key figure in the formation of a public theology. Here are some resources for his thought.

Without Sovereignty, Without Being: Unconditionality, the Coming God and Derrida's Democracy to Come   9/11/2003 
Article  John D. Caputo discusses Jacques Derrida's recent thought with many implications for a public theology.

Either/Or Or Both/And?   9/11/2003 
Jarmo Tarkki: Article  About liberal, conservative, postmodernism, and the spirit of our times.

New Bonhoeffer Book Reviewed   6/18/2003 
Comment  A Christian Century review of The Cost of Moral Leadership: The Spirituality of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Tim Lull Dies   5/22/2003 
Comment  The President of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary died on May 20, 2003.

Neoconservatism and Revivalist Theology   4/21/2003 
Ed Knudson: Article  Some thoughts on two major movements creating the political context for the Iraq war. Mentioned here are Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, Daniel Bell, Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell.

The Sin of Pride - Martin Marty on George W. Bush   4/1/2003 
Martin E. Marty: Article  Vision Thing: A scholar wonders if Bush has the humility to see the nuance of this conflict.

The Temptation to Empire   3/27/2003 
Article  Empires require gods according to Reinhold Niebuhr in The Structure of Nations and Empires

Liberation or Oppression   3/25/2003 
Article  An Iraqi man carries a child badly wounded in the onslaught on Basra on Saturday. Will the U.S. be viewed as a liberator by the Iraqi people?

History of Social Thinking of the Church   11/7/2002 
Ed Knudson: Article  Gary Dorrien's book, Soul in Society, is recommended, especially for its criticism of neoconservatives.

David Hollenback and the Common Good   11/7/2002 
Comment  Resources from a Catholic Professor of Social Thought

Modern Fundamentalists   11/6/2002 
Article  Fundamentalism is itself based on modernist ideas says Gary Dorrien.

War as Sacrifice   10/15/2002 
Article  Richard Koenigsberg writes about leaders willing to sacrifice their people.

Has Liberation Theology Died?   6/19/2002 
Note  A July, 1999, article in Ecumenical Review.

Martin Luther King, Jr. as Public Theologian   6/3/2002 
Comment  Fred Downing writes about the importance of a public, not just private, theology

When Bloch Pointed to the Cages Outside the Cathedral   6/3/2002 
Scott Holland: Reprint  Scott Holland speaks of Public Theology at an Anabaptists and Postmodernity conference, mentions Ernst Bloch and Johannes Baptist Metz.

Salvation for All? - Did God Create Hell?  5/3/2002 
Jacques Ellul: Reprint  Who gets into heaven and who goes to hell is a major theological issue and one which engenders much hatred in the world. Here is a good discussion.

Understanding Fundamentalism: Against Modernity   10/13/2001 
Comment  About Jerry Falwell's Comments on 9/11

Republicans, Democrats and Public Theology   10/12/2001 
Diana Butler Bass: Article  God’s justice is that God loves Bill Clinton, Ken Starr—all those desperate Democrats and those mean Republicans alike.

Jacques Ellul   9/30/2001 
Article  A prolific writer, Ellul was a French philosopher/sociologist who focused on modern technlogies

Soren Kierkegaard (1815-1855)   9/30/2001 
Article  Often referred to as the founder of Existentialism, new writing puts this significant thinker in the midst of his political and social context.

Justification of War and Terrorism   9/29/2001 
Ed Knudson: Article  An initial response to the events of 9/11.

Martin Marty's Definition of Public Theology   9/23/2001 
Notes  One way to define the term

Public Theology: An Open Concept   9/22/2001 
Ed Knudson: Article  Participation is requested to help define what a Public Theology should be after the events of 911.

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Theology Section

It is time to develop a clear Protestant Theology. Rather than there be a Lutheran theology, or Presbyterian or Methodist or Episcopal, the times demand that Protestants come together to think.

One reason this is so important is that the most prevalent public expression of Christian faith today, the religious right, must be characterized as an alien form of the historic Protestant tradition, a commercialized and Americanized form of religious nationalism. No longer should those who affirm their relation to Reformation theology allow that tradition to be so misused and abused by the religious right. This is discussed further in the article entitled: Most Southern Baptist Pastors are Not Real Protestants.

At the lunch table one day in 1941 Adolf Hitler commented: "I am not concerned about dogmas, but I don't tolerate a pulpit pounder getting involved in earthly matters." (Source)
A second reason the theological task is important is because the Primary Protestants need a new sense of their mission in a broken and troubled world. People rather desperately need to hear what historic Protestantism has to say. Though most of the mainline Protestants still have buildings and congregations in communities across the country, numbers are declining, mission and purpose are unclear or confused. The time when the local parish was filled with important and powerful people in the community is long since past. Also gone is any sense that this is a "Protestant country." It is necessary to promote a new Protestant Spirit of outreach and mission in the midst of a modern and postmodern era. One way to do this is to engage fully and actively in justice ministries as will be discussed in these pages. Such ministries are not merely private efforts to escape from a dangerous world, but public engagements with the realities of the day.

Another reason the theological task is important is that the ecumenical movement has stalled entirely. The desire for ecumenical relations is as strong as ever, but the institutional means by which ecumenism takes place have not been found adequate except on a global level. It is a thinking problem, a lanuage problem. And it is also a problem of uncertainty as the mainline denominations decline, or at least are perceived as declining by so many. It is time to rethink things, especially the doctrine of scripture, basic conceptual understandings of God and Jesus and Spirit, creation, redemption, and life in the power of the Spirit, each tradition offering the best of its wisdom for the future of Protestantism.

I think it will take both pastors and scholars to do this rethinking. Theology on the practical parish level and theology on the academic level are too separate, are talking with different languages. The theory-practice divide needs to be overcome, at least in some places. So this website wants to be a place where both pastors and scholars can come together for mutual enoouragement and support in the very important task these days of theological reflection.

We suggest the reading of the famous last chapter of Jurgen Moltmann's Theology of Hope (chapter 5). The whole book is available online here! Moltmann has been one of the theologians trying to articulate the meaning of the gospel in public life.

We also think it important for pastors to read theology. What they get in seminary is not enough. The world is changing too fast, each of us changes as we confront challenges in new places. We like the idea for pastors to consider themselves "theologians in residence" in their local congregations. Please suggest books to us you have found helpful.

In 1980 Robert N. Bellah writes this about "public theology" in his book Varieties of Civil Religion:

"Notions that America is God's country, and that American power in the world is identitical with morality and God's will, have not died even today. Fortunately, these ideas never shaped the normative documents of the American civil religion, nor have they characterized its greatest heroes - men like Jefferson, Lincoln, and Martin Luther King - but they have formed an important tradition of interpretation, one carried by nationalistic clergymen more often than by jingoistic politicians. The best antidote to this tendency toward archaic regression is the critical tradition that has characterized American political life from its beginning. This critical tradition has been expressed in what Martin Marty called a public theology and what Walter Lippmann called a public philosophy. A strong public theology opposed our more unjust wars, especially the Mexican-American, Spanish-American, and Vietnamese wars, demanded racial and social justice, and insisted on the fulfillment of our democratic promise in our economic as well as our political life." (from the Introduction, page xiii)

Since Bellah wrote those words we have seen the growth of the religious right which now has, indeed, become the major expression of Christianity in public life. This journal is highly critical of the religious right with its "Revivalist Theology" and seeks to publish materials to counter its influence in the world today.
    Online Resources:

  • American Academy of Religion. This is the primary association of scholars in religion and theology in the country.

  • Theological Commons. The library at Princeton Theological Seminary has an ambitious program of getting theological classics online. Incredible resources available here.
  • World Forum on Theology and Liberation. This is the website of a group of theologians working within the context of the World Social Forum.

  • The Political Theology Agenda. Conferences, CFPs, Books, Journals: The Political Theology Agenda is run by the Sussex Centre for the Individual and Society (SCIS) in order to facilitate the exchange on political theology and political theologies across boundaries, be they confessional (or non-confessional), disciplinary, national, cultural, generational, philosophical, etc. It aims to enhance dialogue and comparison between the various traditions of political theology and raise awareness of each other and alternative approaches. It serves to disseminate information on research, publications, and events and hopes to introduce new people to political theology and raise the academic and public profile of political theology and political theologies worldwide. – Professor Erich Kofmel, Managing Director, SCIS

  • Proegressive Christian Witness. A website sponsored by the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.

  • Logos Journal. A quarterly journal of modern culture, politics and society that features articles on the arts, politics, culture, the social sciences and humanities as well as original fiction and poetry. Logos seeks to foster a critical dialogue on modern politics, culture and society through both intellectual and aesthetic lenses.

  • International Bonhoeffer Society and the Works Translation Project. One of the most important theologians of the 20th Century is Dietrich Bonhoeffer whose public witness in the midst of Hitler's Germany led to his death. This website which provides full information about Bonhoeffer and links to other sites.

  • Center for Barth Studies. At Princeton Theological Seminary.

  • Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology. A large list of articles on major figures in the history of theology.
  • Religion Review. World religious news summaries.

  • Contour of an American Public Theology.. By Victor Anderson of Vanderbilt University

  • Religion Online. Full texts by recognized scholars, even full books by people Reinhold Niebuhr are here. More than 5,200 articles and chapters. Topics include Old and New Testament, Theology, Ethics, History and Sociology of Religion, Communication and Cultural Studies, Pastoral Care, Counseling, Homiletics, Worship, Missions and Religious Education.
  • Radical Orthodoxy. A new journal is starting here, a "Journal of Theology, Philosophy and Politics," an international peer reviewed journal dedicated to exploring academic and policy debates that interface between theology, philosophy, and the social sciences.

Note: The image at the top of this page is the cover picture of a worship book for the Sixth Assembly of the World Council of Churches which met in Vancouver, British Columbia July 24 to August 10, 1983, under the theme: "Jesus Christ - The Life of the World" based on John 12:24. The artist is Jyoti Sahi, India.
















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