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A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good
Brazos Press / 2011 / Hardcover
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In A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good award winning writer and theologian Miroslav Volf argues that there is no single way for Christian faith to relate to culture as a whole, but rather that its interaction is varied, dynamic, and always Christ-centered. To this end, Volf explores major issues on the frontlines of faith today by asking these poignant questions: 1) In what way does the Christian faith come to malfunction in the contemporary world, and how should we counter these malfunctions?
2) What should a Christian's main concern be when it comes to living well in the world today?
3) How should we go about realizing a vision for human flourishing in relation to other faiths and under the roof of a single state?
Our society is an asking an increasingly important question in a very critical way: what is the role, if any, of religion in the public square? With the recent announcement that our planet's population has reached 7 billion people, it has become clear that we are more interconnected than ever, and that the beliefs and practices of various cultures and religions are going to compete for a larger share of influence in our new global society.
Because of these events, it is more important than ever that we ask how our faith as Christians relates to the contemporary public and pluralist life of all people. The question becomes even more important when we recognize that each religion will attempt to shape its influence on public life through their sacred texts. So then, how does, or should, the Christian faith relate to the public sphere?
Finally, Volf addresses practical questions such as faithful witness in a multifaith society and political engagement in a pluralistic world. Compelling and informative, A Public Faith highlights things Christians can do to serve the common good. Accessible and succinct and intended for a broad audience.
Debates rage today about the role of religions in public life. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, various religions come to inhabit the same space. But how do they live together, especially when each wants to shape the public realm according to the dictates of its own sacred texts and traditions? How does the Christian faith relate in the religious pluralism of contemporary public life?
While Volf argues that there is no single way Christian faith relates to culture as a whole, he explores major issues on the frontlines of faith today: 1) In what way does the Christian faith come to malfunction in the contemporary world, and how should we counter these malfunctions? 2) What should a Christian's main concern be when it comes to living well in the world today? and 3) How should we go about realizing a vision for human flourishing in relation to other faiths and under the roof of a single state?
Covering such timely issues as witness in a multifaith society and political engagement in a pluralistic world, this compelling book highlights things Christians can do to serve the common good.
Our efforts as people of faith to bring our religious convictions into the public arena have clearly malfunctioned in recent years. But Miroslav Volf does not want us to retreat to a 'private faith' mentality. Instead he offers profound counsel about how faith-based public advocacy can promote the common good in our increasingly pluralistic world. This important book is packed with wisdom!
-Richard J. Mouw,
President and Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary
Why should Christians use the resources of their faith to speak to and to serve the common good rather than reducing the faith to a message that soothes individuals or energizes them to pursue success? And how can they do that without coercing those who are not Christians? In A Public Faith, Miroslav Volf sets for himself the daunting task of addressing these two deep and urgent questions in a way that is both widely accessible and that takes account of the scholarly literature. He succeeds on all counts. It is a wonderful guide for the perplexed in our times.
Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology, Yale University; Senior Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia
Firmly rooted within his own tradition of Christianity, Miroslav Volf has produced an indispensible guide for voices of faith within the arena of public discourse. A Public Faith is arguably the most important book on the topic since H. Richard Niebuhr's Christ and Culture.
Professor of American Religious History, Columbia University
Religious perspectives properly belong in the public sphere, Volf (Exclusion and Embrace) argues, because religions often foster healthy social environments. While acknowledging that Christianity has been historically complicit in coercive conversion, Volf focuses on internal religious "malfunctions" that have allowed such unfaithfulness. When Christians lose sight of their faith's prophetic edge, substitute idols for God, use faith as a "crutch," or resort to violence, they corrupt their faith, Volf contends. Although writing from an explicitly Christian perspective, Volf cites scholars such as Mohammad al-Ghazali and Moses Maimonides to emphasize that individual and communal flourishing constitutes a defining concern of many religious traditions. Volf also engages antireligious arguments from thinkers such as Marx and Nietzsche. With a goal of generating hope for Christian communities in today's pluralistic world, Volf encourages Christians to share and receive gifts of spiritual wisdom, to speak truth in their distinct religious voice, and to live generously with people of other faiths. This insightful exploration of how Christians may faithfully engage today's political and pluralistic culture provides accessible, wise guidance for people of all faiths. (Aug.) Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.
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