Reclaiming Narrative for Public Theology

By Mary Doak

Subjects: American Religion
Series: SUNY series, Religion and American Public Life
Paperback : 9780791462348, 258 pages, October 2004
Hardcover : 9780791462331, 258 pages, October 2004

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Table of contents

Acknowledgments

1. INTRODUCTION: THE IDEA OF A NARRATIVE PUBLIC THEOLOGY

 

Narrative as a Resource for Historicizing Theology
The Public Theology Project
Why Call It Public Theology?
Achievements in Public Theology Thus Far
The Public Character of Narrative
How This Argument Will Proceed

 

2. PUBLIC THEOLOGY IN A PLURALISTIC SOCIETY

 

Arendt's Defense of a Pluralistic Public Life

 

Public Life as Resistance to Totalitarianism
The Nature of Public Life and Action
Is Christianity Inherently Antipublic?
Conclusion

 

Public Theology without Establishment of Religion

 

The Complex Meaning of Religious Freedom
Case #1. The Ten Commandments
Religious Morality and the Limits of Legislation
Case #2: Lawrence v. Texas and the Legislation of Morality
Religious Freedom and Public Debate

 

Public Theology Amidst Diversity

 

3. E PLURIBUS UNUM? NATIONAL NARRATIVES AND THE RECOVERY OF PUBLIC LIFE

 

Introduction: Why Nations and Why Narratives?
A Defense of Public Life on the National Level

 

Arguments Against the Nation-State
A Qualified Defense of the Nation-State
National Identity

 

Historical Narratives and the Nation-State

 

National Narratives and the Repression of the Other
Ricoeur's Theory of Narrative

 

The Structure of Narrative
The Narrative Structure of Historical Understanding

 

Identity and Purpose as Conceptualized through Historical and Fictional Narratives
Bifurcated Histories or a Common Narrative

 

Conclusion

 

4. TOWARD A NARRATIVE PUBLIC THEOLOGY

 

Narrative in a Practical Fundamental Theology: J. B. Metz

 

A Narrative, Practical Approach to Fundamental Theology
Human Freedom in History
Theology and the Critique of Narratives
Metz's Contributions to Public Theology

 

North American Narrative Theologians: Stanley Hauerwas and Ronald Thiemann

A Narrative Theological Ethics: Stanley Hauweras

 

Narrative as the Basis of Communal Identity
The Christian Task in History
The Public Mission of the Church
The Christian Narrative and Public Discourse
Hauerwas's Contributions and Challenges to a Narrative Public Theology

 

A Public Narrative Theology: Ronald Thiemann

 

Thiemann's Argument for Public Theology
Why Narrative in This Public Theology?
Thiemann's Proposal for a Theological Method
Thick Descriptions and Public Debate

 

Oppositional or Publicly Engaged Theology?

Conclusion: Towards a Narrative Public Theology

 

The Importance of Narrative in Christian Theology
A Double Narrative Construction for Public Theology
Narrative and Public Debate

 

5. Lincoln, Elizondo, and Williams as Narrative Public Theologians

 

The Argument for a Narrative Public Theology Summarized
Abraham Lincoln: Narrating Judgment

 

The Narrative Structure in the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address
Public Theology or Civil Religion?
Lincoln's Contributions to a Narrative Public Theology

 

Virgil Elizondo: Narrating Mestizaje

 

Three Levels of Narrative
Elizondo's Contributions to a Narrative Public Theology

 

Delores Williams: Narrating Resistance

 

Narrating a Womanist Theology
Williams's Contributions to a Narrative Public Theology

 

Conclusion

 

Notes

Index

Argues for American national narratives in Christian theology that respect the separation of church and state and a diverse, multifaith society.

Description

This book furthers the development of American public theology by arguing for the importance of narrative to a theological interpretation of the nation's social and political life. In contrast to both sectarian theologies that oppose a diverse public life and liberal theologies that have lost their distinctiveness, narrative public theology seeks an engaged yet critical role consistent with the separation of church and state and respectful of the multireligious character of the United States. Mary Doak argues for a public theology that focuses on the narrative imagination through which we envision our current circumstances and our hopes for the future. This theology sees both our national stories and our religious ones as resources that can contribute to a public and pluralistic conversation about the direction of society. Doak highlights arguments from Paul Ricoeur, Johann Baptist Metz, William Dean, Stanley Hauerwas, Franklin Gamwell, and Ronald Thiemann that can both contribute to and challenge a narrative public theology. She also proposes a model of public theology using narratives from Abraham Lincoln, Virgil Elizondo, and Delores Williams.

Mary Doak is Assistant Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame.