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Martin Luther King, Jr. as Public Theologian
Fred Downing writes about the importance of a public, not just private, theology
Fred Downing begins his article about Martin Luther King with these words:
In his seminal work, The Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and the Culture of Pluralism, David Tracy argues that the current problem of address for theology is no longer simply secularism but more specifically, privatization. That is, in the present era religious faith is tolerated as a private system for those who wish to take what is perceived as a relatively eccentric or idiosyncratic position. But in this cultural process of uneasy toleration, religious faith is relegated to a place of benign neglect where its truth claims are not allowed to be taken seriously in the larger public.1 Consequently, when we enter the realm of public discourse we are obliged by the consensus of the times to keep our religious views out of the market place or public square.
Downing's article in Theology Today is an excellent introduction to the subject matter and concerns of public theology.
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