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Public Theology as Christian Witness: Exploring the Genre

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This article explores the genre of public theology from the specific context of South Africa, while looking for the points of commonality set out by Duncan Forrester. Since the phrase 'public theology' refers to an engagement between theology and politics in specific locations, its content will be diverse and, yet, there is much that diverse public theologies share. Moreover, good practice in public theology requires that secularity and religious diversity are taken seriously. Consequently, Christian witness in secular democratic society means promoting the common good by witnessing to core values rather than seeking privilege for the Christian religion. In particular, this article offers the anti-apartheid and other activities of Joseph Wing and Douglas Bax, as well as the academic work of Denise Ackermann and the political service of Alex Boraine as examples of good practice in public theology in South Africa. The article concludes with the affirmation that public theology implies engagement in matters of public importance either through debate or action and always with self-critical theological reflection.


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