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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Postgraduate Course: Public Theologies: Current Controversies (THET11066)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryTheology stirs up controversies in the public square - not only since events such as 9/11. As an interdisciplinary and international field of study, public theology is interested in these controversies. The field has emerged rapidly and evolved radically throughout the 20th and the 21st centuries. What role does 'the public' play for 'theology'? What role does 'theology' play for 'the public'? And why is the connection between them important? This course examines key thinkers and key themes in public theology in order to enable students to evaluate and engage with theologies in the public square today both critically and constructively.
Course description Academic Description
As a field of study, public theology has expanded rapidly and evolved radically throughout the 20th and the 21st centuries. It involves scholars from different and diverse disciplines in discussions of issues that are stirring up controversy in the public square today. Particularly after events such as 9/11, theological language and theological literacy have taken on a new meaning in the public square. While the course concentrates on Christianity in its European and American contexts, it covers a variety of public theologies from around the world. By examining the emergence and the evolution of the field through its key thinkers and its key themes, the course seeks to enable students to evaluate and engage with theologies in the public square today both critically and constructively.

The course is organised around key thinkers and key themes in public theology. Framed by 'Introduction' and 'Conclusion' that cover the emergence and the evolution of the field, the course will
(1) examine the inventions of public theology in sociological, philosophical, and theological scholarship on religion (in weeks 2 to 4),
(2) explore the interpretations of public theology that have shaped the field throughout history (in weeks 5 to 7), and
(3) evaluate the issues that are stirring up controversy in public theology today (in weeks 8 to 10).

Student Learning Experience
The course is structured around a lecture of one hour that introduces students to the topic of the week. The lecture is complemented by a seminar session of one hour dedicated to the discussion of set texts. The texts are selected to show the spectrum of thinkers and themes studied in public theology. The seminar sessions include student presentations of around ten minutes with a view to initiating discussion. These presentations can cover either a classic public-theological publication or a current public-theological problem.
In addition to their participation and presentation in class, students will be assessed by an essay of 4000 words on a topic relevant to the field of public theology. Through these assessments, students will demonstrate the achievement of the learning outcomes of the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students are welcome.
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. After completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the emergence and the evolution of the field of public theology.
  2. After completion of this course, students will be able to compare and contrast key thinkers and key theories in public theology.
  3. After completion of this course, students will be able to evaluate the significance of theologies for the public square critically and constructively.
  4. After completion of this course, students will be able to pursue and present independent research in the field of public theology.
  5. After completion of this course, students will be able to engage in constructive and critical debate with peers.
Reading List
Indicative Bibliography

Kevin Ahern, Meghan Clark, Kristin Heyer, Laurie Johnston (eds), Public Theology and the Global Common Good: The Contribution of David Hollenbach (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2016).
Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, and Saba Mahmood, Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury and Free Speech (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013).
Raimundo Barreto, Ronaldo Cavalcante, Wanderley P. da Rosa (eds), World Christianity as Public Religion (Minneapolis, MA: Fortress Press, 2017).
Heinrich Bedford-Strohm and Celia Deane-Drummond (eds), Religion and Ecology in the Public Sphere (London: T&T Clark, 2011).
Heinrich Bedford-Strohm and Etienne de Villiers (eds), Prophetic Witness: An Appropriate Contemporary Mode of Public Discourse? (Münster: Lit, 2011).
Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, Florian Höhne, and Tobias Reitmeier (eds), Contextuality and Intercontextuality in Public Theology: Proceedings from the Bamberg Conference (Münster: Lit, 2013).
Robert Bellah, The Broken Covenant: American Civil Religion in Time of Trial (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975).
Robert Bellah, Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditionalist World (Berkley: University of California Press, 1991).
Robert Bellah and Steven M. Tipton, The Robert Bellah Reader (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006).
Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (London: Verso, 2006).
Judith Butler, Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015).
Judith Butler, Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, and Cornel West, The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere, ed. Eduardo Mendieta and Jonathan VanAntwerpen (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011).
José Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1980).
Alexander Chow, Chinese Public Theology: Generational Shifts and Confucian Imagination in Chinese Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).
Paul S. Chung, Public Theology in an Age of World Christianity: God¿s Mission as Word-Event (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
Kjetil Fretheim, Interruption and Imagination: Public Theology in Times of Crisis (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2016).
Duncan Forrester, Christian Justice and Public Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).
Duncan Forrester, Theological Fragments: Explorations in Unsystematic Theology (London: T&T Clark, 2005).
Duncan Forrester, Apocalypse Now? Reflections on Faith in a Time of Terror (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2005).
Nancy Fraser, Transnationalizing the Public Sphere (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2004).
Elaine Graham, Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Public Theology in a Post-Secular Age (London: SCM, 2013).
Elaine Graham, Apologetics without Apology: Speaking of God in a World Troubled by Religion. The Didsbury Lectures (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2017).
Elaine Graham and Anna Rowlands (eds), Pathways to the Public Square: Practical Theology in an Age of Pluralism (Münster: Lit, 2005).
Deirdre King Hainsworth and Scott R. Paeth (eds), Public Theology for a Global Society: Essays in Honor of Max L. Stackhouse (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010).
Philip Gorski, American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017).
Philip Gorski, David Kyuman Kim, John Torpey, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen (eds), The Post-Secular in Question: Religion in Contemporary Society (New York: New York University Press, 2012).
Jostein Gripsrud, Hallvard Moe, Anders Molander, and Graham Murdock (eds), The Idea of the Public Sphere: A Reader (Lanham: Lexington, 2010).
John de Gruchy, Bonhoeffer and South Africa: Theology in Dialogue (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984).
John de Gruchy, Reconciliation: Restoring Justice (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002).
John de Gruchy, Being Human: Confessions of a Christian Humanist (London: SCM, 2006).
Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992).
Jürgen Habermas, Religion and Rationality: Essays on Reason, God, and Modernity (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2002).
Jürgen Habermas, Between Naturalism and Religion: Philosophical Essays (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2014).
Jürgen Habermas, An Awareness of What Is Missing: Faith and Reason in a Post-Secular Age (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010).
Jürgen Habermas and Joseph Ratzinger, The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006).
Len Hansen (ed), Christian in Public: Aims, Methodologies and Issues in Public Theology (Stellenbosch: SUN, 2007).
Kristin E. Heyer (ed), Prophetic and Public: The Social Witness of U.S. Catholicism (Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2007).
David Hollenbach, The Global Face of Public Faith: Politics, Human Rights, and Christian Ethics (Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2003).
Sebastian Kim, Theology in the Public Sphere (London: SCM, 2011).
Sebastian Kim and Katie Day (eds), A Companion to Public Theology (Leiden: Brill, 2017).
Gaspar Martinez, Confronting the Mystery of God: Political Liberation and Public Theologies (London: Continuum, 2001).
Martin Marty, The Public Church (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1981).
Anita Monro and Stephen Burns (eds), Public Theology and the Challenge of Feminism (London: Routledge, 2015).
John Courtney Murray, Religious Liberty: Catholic Struggles with Pluralism, ed. J. Leon Hooper (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993).
John Courtney Murray, We Hold to These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition (London: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005).
Richard John Neuhaus, The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984).
Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study of Ethics and Politics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002).
Reinhold Niebuhr, The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986).
D. Perman Niles, Is God Christian? Christian Identity in Public Theology: An Asian Contribution (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2017).
Kwok Pui-Ian, Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005).
Simon Shui-Man Kwan, Postcolonial Resistance and Asian Theology (London: Routledge, 2014).
Dirk J. Smit, Essays in Public Theology (Stellenbosch: SUN, 2007).
Dirk J. Smit, Remembering Theologians ¿ Doing Theology (Stellenbosch: SUN, 2013).
Dorothee Sölle, Suffering (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1984).
Dorothee Sölle, The Strength of the Weak: Toward a Christian Feminist Identity (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 19984).
Dorothee Sölle, The Window of Vulnerability: A Political Spirituality (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999).
Dorothee Sölle, Thinking about God: An Introduction to Theology (London: SCM, 1990).
Dorothee Sölle, The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002).
Max L. Stackhouse, Shaping Public Theology: Selections from the Writings of Max L. Stackhouse, ed. Scott R. Paeth, E. Harold Breitenberg Jr., and Hak Joon Lee (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014).
William F. Storrar and Andrew R. Morton (eds), Public Theolog for the 21st Century (London: T&T Clark, 2004).
Rasiah S. Sugirtharajah, The Bible and Empire: Postcolonial Explorations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).
William H. Swatos, Jr. and James K. Wellmann, Jr. (eds), The Power of Religious Publics: Staking Claims in American Society (London: Praeger, 1999).
David Tracy, On Naming the Present: Reflections on God, Hermeneutics, and Church (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1994).
David Tracy, Blessed Rage for Order: The New Pluralism in Theology (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1996).
David Tracy, The Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and the Culture of Pluralism (London: Crossroad, 1998).
Desmond Tutu, No Future without Forgiveness (London: Rider, 1999).
Miroslav Volf, A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2011).
James Walters and Esther Kersley (eds), Religion and the Public Sphere: New Conversations (London: Routledge, 2018).
Cornel West, Prophecy Deliverance! An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1982).
Cornel West, Race Matters (Boston: Beacon Press, 1993).
Cornel West, Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight against Imperialism (London: Penguin Books, 2004).
Felix Wilfred, Asian Public Theology: Critical Concerns in Challenging Times (Delhi: ISPCK, 2010).
Rowan Williams, Faith in the Public Square (London: Bloomsbury, 2012).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Ability to engage in interdisciplinary dialogue;
Ability to interpret primary and secondary literature in an interdisciplinary context;
Ability to analyse and synthesise evidence from a variety of sources;
Ability to think systematically;
Ability to pursue and present independent research.
Keywordstheology,politics,ethics,philosophy,sociology,cultural studies,biblical studies,public square
Course organiserDr Ulrich Schmiedel
Tel: (0131 6)50 8918
Course secretaryMiss Rachel Dutton
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
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