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Against the Grain: Responsible Public Theology in a Global Era

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In commenting on William Storrar’s distinction between theologies of public anger (liberation theologies) and theologies that reflect public spirit, the latter being for him more properly understood as public theologies, this article considers the roots of critical theology in South Africa. The former are neither homogeneous nor as distinct from post-apartheid public theologies as Storrar’s formulation might suggest. Thus this article argues for rethinking what seems too narrow a view on what constitutes public theology, an argument against the grain starting from theologies against the grain. To make the argument clear, the article considers the global order within which the liberated state now sits, and proposes that three key issues place the greatest demands on a responsible contemporary public theology today: a revised view of human being; the ordering of society in the polis; and the management of the well-being of the (global) household, that is, the international economy—all in relation to the contemporary erosion of the public sphere proper.

Affiliations: 1: University of Cape Town South Africa

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