A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good  -     By: Miroslav Volf
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A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good

Brazos Press / 2013 / Paperback

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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.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 192
Vendor: Brazos Press
Publication Date: 2013
Dimensions: 8.5 X 5.5 (inches)
ISBN: 1587433435
ISBN-13: 9781587433436

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Publisher's Description

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. Now in paperback.

Praise for the cloth edition

Named one of the "Top 100 Books" and one of the "Top 10 Religion Books" of 2011 by Publishers Weekly

"Accessible, wise guidance for people of all faiths."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Highly original. . . . The book deserves a wide audience and is one that will affect its readers well after they have turned the final page."--Christianity Today (5-star review)

Author Bio

Miroslav Volf (DrTheol, University of Tübingen) is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School and director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture in New Haven, Connecticut. He has written more than fifteen books, including Exclusion and Embrace (selected among the 100 best religious books of the twentieth century by Christianity Today), After Our Likeness, and The End of Memory.


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.
-Nicholas Wolterstorff,
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.
-Randall Balmer,
Professor of American Religious History, Columbia University

Product Reviews

4 Stars Out Of 5
4 out of 5
4.5 out Of 5
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  1. Blue Springs, MO
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: Male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Great Book by Volf
    June 10, 2013
    Jonathan Becker
    Blue Springs, MO
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: Male
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This review was written for .
    This book was pleasantly surprising, even though it was at times a bit repetitive. Volf's message is important in an increasingly pluralistic society.

    Two sections were of particular interest to me:

    1) Fit- Volf argues that any worldview that aims to be relevant (especially as concerns human flourishing) must have a program for advancement that matches that worldview. The implications are huge, but one must read Volf's argument to have full appreciation.

    2) Operation in pluralistic society- Volf points out that the early church was able to operate well as a small minority in its first few centuries of existence. This may be what we are headed back to, but we need not react like the religious right in America, we simply need to engage the culture in a way that is distinctly and positively Christian.

    I recommend this book to any and all Christians interested in a sustainable model for Christian interaction with the culture.
  2. Phx, Arizona
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    A Welcomed Insight by Volf...
    October 7, 2011
    Larwence Garcia
    Phx, Arizona
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    This review was written for .
    Miroslav Volf's "A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good" is a well-articulated and well-formulated guide to how Christians should both understand the nature of their religion as a "prophetic religion" and how they should go about fulfilling the task of "interchange with the world", that is, when "the message is spoken, enacted, built into liturgies or institutions, or embodied in laws". To this end Volf clarifies the malfunctional pitfalls of idleness, whether by immorality or silence in so-called "secular" territory, or coercion, be it with violence or mistreatment, we Christians can fall into that disrupt our mission to bring about human flourishing in Christ. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on "Sharing Wisdom" as it informs us to not only share our Christian wisdom to assist others towards more meaningful lives, but also to be receptive to the wisdom of other religions, sort of difficult when we falsely assume that we have all the answers instead of realizing that at one point in history all legitimate forms of wisdom was made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth in whom we worship and follow, and therefore, wisdom from other religions is perfectly compatible with our faith.

    My single contention was the language at times was a bit too technical for a topic that needs to be addressed at the popular level and therefore should be more easily digestible. The lay Christians in America need this message and wisdom in order to accomplish their task for this generation caught in the tangles of a life characterized by "self-satisfying experiences". But other than that, Volf's organization of the content makes it quite easy to pick back up and refresh one's memory when it comes time to implement the book on terra firma. So this book wouldn't be a bad choice to carry in one's backpack, bag, or suitcase as one seeks to bring about healing in our broken world.

    With that said, if "A Public Faith" is seriously read and implemented to shape the way we as Christians approach the wider-culture to accomplish our call to love the world as Christ himself did, we can not only avoid repeating the tragic mistakes of the past, but we will actively contribute to all areas of life—social, political, economic, and private— as we help the world along, other religions included.
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