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Poverty and Public Theology: Advocacy of the Church in Pluralistic Society

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This article describes four models of connecting the biblical option for the poor with theological ethics. The charity model denies any political significance of this option. The fundamental critical model connects this theological option exclusively with a confessional critique of western capitalism and its market approach. The political advice model does not give an explicit account of its theological groundings but tries to present practicable political solutions. Finally the public theology model which is advocated in this article connects a clear theological profile with the involvement in the public debate on economic strategies which reflect the option for the poor. For this, public theology has to be bilingual, speaking a theological and a secular language; moreover, because of its involvement in the public debate public theology can be understood as a liberation theology for a democratic society. The article presents Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer as public theologians who, in their time, have been advocates for the poor. The memorandum of the German Protestant churches of 2006 on poverty is presented as an example of public theological involvement of the church in our time. The article ends with a reflection on eschatological justice.

Affiliations: 1: University of Bamberg, Germany

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