AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractIn this chapter, I seek to show that, contrary to widespread caricatures as fideists eschewing publicly intelligible critical scrutiny, or sectarians advocating Christian disengagement from the public realm, postliberal theologians have a deep commitment to publicness in both these senses, which arises from their commitment to the irreducible particularity of Christian beliefs, practices and the stories which norm them. It is, I argue first, because of this commitment to Christian particularity and the orientation to the public it entails, that they are critical of attempts to establish the public status of Christian belief and practice on a putatively universalist foundation or general theory of human existence or religion. They pursue this critique in order to preserve the public character of Christian faith. Second, to different degrees, they seek to mobilise what they take to be core resources of Christian tradition, not least its central scriptural narratives, in order to frame, orient and exemplify constructive Christian engagement with public issues and events. Third, they have sought to find ways to articulate the modes and terms of critical public accountability for Christian beliefs and practices without lapsing back into the very modes of theological and ethical argument against which they protest. These tend to liken the public intelligibility of Christian meanings to those of the culture of a community, to combine realist, coherentist and pragmatic understandings to describe what it means to call Christianity ‘true’, which admit of a range of public ways of assessing Christian discourse without subordinating it to a distorting set of criteria.
CitationFulford, B. (2022 - forthcoming). Postliberal positions in public theology. In C. Hübenthal & C. Alpers (Eds.), T&T Clark Handbook of Public Theology. Bloomsbury Publishing.
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