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Dialectic as Method in Public Theology: Recalling Jacques Ellul

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This article recalls the contribution of Jacques Ellul's theological methodology as a resource for public theology. The first part of the study surveys Ellul's contribution as a public theologian, while the second responds to Ellul's reflections on the theme of dialectic and evaluates the significance of Ellulian-style dialectical theology for public theology. The term 'dialectic' is one Ellul used to describe his own mode of theological engagement. For Ellul, dialectic implies dialogue, which entails both presence (being with, so as to be able to converse) and distance (being apart, so as to be able to contribute something different). What Ellul affirms about a dialectical stance is valuable in so far as it enables theology to grapple with complexity and contradiction, which is important for public theology because the conversation between theology and the wider public now usually occurs in the absence of shared assumptions and values.

Affiliations: 1: St Mark's National Theological Centre and Charles Sturt University, Australia


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