What has Washington to do with Jerusalem? In the raging debates about the relationship between religion and politics, no one has explored the religious benefits and challenges of public engagement for Christian believers - until now. This book defends and details Christian believers' engagement in contemporary pluralistic public life not from the perspective of some neutral 'public', but from the particular perspective of Christian faith, arguing that such engagement enriches both public life and Christian citizens' faith themselves. As such it offers not a 'public theology', but a 'theology of public life', analysing the promise and perils of Christian public engagement, discussing the nature of civic commitment and prophetic critique, and the relation of a loving faith to a liberal politics of justice. Theologically rich, philosophically rigorous, politically, historically and sociologically informed, this book advances contemporary discussion of 'religion and public life' in fundamental ways.
Introduction: life in the epilogue, during the world; Part I. A Theology of Engagement: Introduction; 1. Life before God; 2. Life in the world; 3. Life together; Part II. The Liturgy of Citizenship: Introduction; 4. Faithful citizenship; 5. Hopeful citizenship; 6. Charitable citizenship; Conclusion: The republic of grace; or, the public ramifications of heaven.
"I am in awe of this book ... On so many levels, it is a delight."--Ian S. Markham, Virginia Theological Seminary
"Theologians as well as clergy and lay people (who should find this book quite accessible, if still academic) who heed Mathewes's advice would certainly prove welcome additions to our civic conversation, secular or not."
Anglican Theological Review
"...a joy to read."
The Christian Century
"Mathewes' project is a worthwhile contribution... The book is also noteworthy as an updated, sophisticated Niebuhrianism for post-modern, post-secular, post-political age."
"Just a few times in each generation a Christian thinker of dazzling talent emerges. Charles Mathewes is one such person. With A Theology of Public Life, Mathewes has solidified his status as one of the most profound thinkers in the Christian world. Mathewes pulls out all the stops. His erudition is stunning, the range of his research extraordinary, his vocabulary demanding."
Journal of Church and State
"Matthewes's theology of engagement is masterly … moments of delightful humour … It deserves attention from scholars and Christian activists alike but, in the end, it is a manifesto for the church …"