Original Research

What is "theology" in "public theology" and what is "public" about "public theology"?

Andries van Aarde
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 64, No 3 | a81 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v64i3.81 | © 2008 Andries van Aarde | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 January 2008 | Published: 04 March 2008

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Andries van Aarde, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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This article sets out to argue that institutional Christianity does not have the exclusive rights to “doing theology”. Since Plato theology has assumed systematization of ideas on the transcendent divine. The practice of theology is to be found in both the professional academy and in the public square. Spirituality is not to be reserved for people longing for God within the context of today’s mass consumerist populist culture. Spirituality and religion overlap and, therefore, today’s postmodern spirituality need not result in the end of religion. However, institutional religion is indeed dying and ”public theology” is not about theologians or pastors “doing theology” in the public square. Public theologicans are the film directors, artists, novelists, poets, and philosophers. The article argues that “public theology” could facilitate a dialogue between the theological discourse of academics and the public theological discourse. The article shows that “public theology” does to an extent overlap with ecclesial and contextual theology. In its core “public theology” is seen as the inarticulate longing of believers who do not want to belong.


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