Camden Theological Library

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place : public theology in a post-secular age

Posted on 27 March 2014 Gavin Glenn

Elaine Graham has done a great service to all who are seeking for, or committed to, a faith-based, intellectually defensible vision, able to guide our thoughts and actions in this globalizing era. She offers a discerning survey of the fields that have to be cultivated if theology is to speak effectively to the complexities, conflicts, and world views we face today. She identifies the most promising bodies of religious, philosophical, and social scientific literature, carefully sorts the gold from the dross in them, and weaves a challenging and inviting, often compelling vision of a revitalized church guided by a public theology for a cosmopolitan civil society. Key to this vision is the significance of resurgent movements that supersede the presumed rock of Christendom and the emptiness of those movements that attempt to establish systems of knowledge, communities and empires on secular bases that deny faith a public voice. Instead she sees new possibilities in the fresh dynamics of belief and in the new dialogues of religion and science. Between the rock and the hard place she finds fields of meaning that, rightly treated, could serve as fertile ground for civilization-building. This is the most significant volume of its kind I have seen in the last two decades.

Max L. Stackhouse, Princeton Theological Seminary

Graham offers us an extraordinary resource for equipping religious leaders and laypersons as public practical theologians in a post-secular age. Her analysis is at once wide-ranging and incisive. Her proposals for a Christian apologetics of presence in public life richly articulate an understanding of theology as a vocation whose end is transformative, articulate practice that seeks justice and well-being for all humanity.

Nancy Ramsay Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University

This is a ground-breaking work. Graham, the British doyen of public theology, recasts the whole Christian theological enterprise in the public context of post-secular societies internationally. She thus reinterprets Christian apologetics, and indeed Christian existence, in the multi-religious context of the global community. For any concerned with the Church's future, this is a seminal study.

James Haire AC, Charles Skirt University, Canberra, Australia

This timely book provides a thorough and helpful overview of where we are and where we might be going. Recommended reading for anyone interested in Christian public engagement.

Elizabeth Oldtield, Theas Think Tank

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