A Metaphysical Foundation for Religious Thinking in Public? On Sharing Reason with Afro-protestant Thought

In: International Journal of Public Theology
Julius Crump Assistant Professor of Religion, Carthage College Kenosha, WI USA

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This article examines metaphysics as a method for religious thinking in public. Such a method invites criticism because 1) no one institution or population group can determine how well others use reason and 2) religious justifications for optimal reason-sharing emanate from privileged institutions. Reason is worth using and sharing when traditions share limit-questions. On what basis had the determination – that some use and share reason better than others – seemed plausible? Some scholars base their determination on appeals to metaphysics. The first part of this article introduces public theology’s origins in American civil religious discourse. The second part examines a foundational method for public reason. These parts establish a relationship between a description of public theology and an examination of its use of reason in David Tracy’s methodological justification of metaphysics. The third part shows how Afro-protestant thought mediates public and emancipatory reason by asking whose inquiry liberates and why.

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