Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Author Meets Critics: "A Theology of Public Life"

Author Meets Critics:
"A Theology of Public Life" by Charles Mathewes
Date: October 11, 2007
Location: Gasson 305, Boston College
Time: 4:30 PM

Charles Mathewes, University of Virginia
Ronald Thiemann, Harvard Divinity School
David Hollenbach, Boston College

Erik Owens, Boston College

book cover for A Theology of Public Life

What has Washington to do with Jerusalem? This ground-breaking 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. It argues that such engagement enriches both public life and Christian citizens' faith itself. As such it offers not a "public theology," but a "theology of public life," analyzing the promise and perils of Christian public engagement, and discussing the nature of civic commitment and prophetic critique, and the relation of a loving faith to a liberal politics of justice.

headshot of Charles Mathewes

Charles T. Mathewes is Associate Professor of Religious Ethics and the History of Christian Thought at the University of Virginia. His research interests include Plato, Patristics (Augustine), Medievals (Anselm, Bernard, Bonaventure, and Aquinas), Protestant Reformers (Luther and Calvin), Pascal, Edwards, Schleiermacher, Barth, the Niebuhrs, and Anglican theology; Modern philosophy (Continental and Analytic); moral and political theory, moral psychology and rationality; interreligious dialogue; Trinity, Christology, the idea of "tradition," tragedy, evil, and sin. Besides A Theology of Public Life (Cambridge, 2007), he has authored several books, including Evil and the Augustinian Tradition (Cambridge, 2006). Mathewes holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

headshot of David Hollenbach

David Hollenbach, S.J. is Director of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice and holds the Human Rights and International Justice University Chair at Boston College, where he teaches theological ethics and Christian social ethics. His research interests are in the foundations of Christian social ethics, particularly in the areas of human rights, the role of the religion in social and political life, and the rights of refugees and other displaced persons. His most recent book is The Global Face of Public Faith: Politics, Human Rights, and Christian Ethics (Georgetown University Press, 2003). His edited volume Advocating Refugee Rights will be published in the near future. He has often been visiting professor at Hekima College in Nairobi, Kenya. He assisted the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in drafting their 1986 pastoral letter Economic Justice for All: Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy. In 1998 he received the John Courtney Murray Award for distinguished achievement in theology from the Catholic Theological Society of America. He holds a Ph.D. in Religious Ethics from Yale University.

headshot of Ronald Theirmann

Ronald F. Thiemann is Bussey Professor at Harvard Divinity School. He is a Faculty Associate of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and he is a Faculty Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School's Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, where he serves on the steering committee of the center's Joint Program in Religion and Public Life. He is also a Faculty Affiliate at the Kennedy School's Harvard Center for Public Leadership. An ordained Lutheran and a specialist on the role of religion in public life, Thiemann is the author of Revelation and Theology: The Gospel as Narrated Promise (Wipf & Stock, 2005), Religion in Public Life: A Dilemma for Democracy (Georgetown, 1996), and Constructing a Public Theology: The Church in a Pluralistic Culture (Westminster John Knox, 1991). He is currently working on a book entitled Prisoners of Conscience: Public Intellectuals in a Time of Crisis. Before coming to Harvard, Thiemann taught at Haverford College. He holds a Ph.D. from Yale University.