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Dirk J. Smit

Abstract

The paper argues that, from the perspective of South African experiences, four notions in the title could easily lead to misunderstandings. The notion of a Christian perspective could ignore the deep diversity and contestation within the Christian traditions themselves. The notion pluralistic could easily be too innocent to address the deep forms of division, alienation and injustice in real life. The notion of the contributions made by religions may be understood, especially by Reformed Christians, primarily in terms of speaking, while the real contributions made by religions to the common life may in fact be more complex and more fundamental. The notion of societies in the plural may again be too superficial and innocent and obscure the ways in which we share a common world and life today.

Manfred L. Pirner

Abstract

This paper addresses the relationship of public theology and education, a field of research that has been neglected in theology as well as in educational theory and religious pedagogy. It does so by firstly analyzing the discourse in the public sphere at the intersection of theology and religious education in Germany, and secondly by drawing on the social theories of John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas to provide a framework for relating public theology and (religious) education. In the German context the rediscovery and revaluing of the political dimension of public religious education has led to the evolving concept of ‘public religious pedagogy’, with obvious analogies to public theology—a concept that may have the potential to become a new paradigm in the academic discipline of religious pedagogy. Systematically, the article advances the hypothesis that philosophical discourse on the question of ‘how citizens who remain deeply divided on religious, philosophical, and moral doctrines, can still maintain a just and stable democratic society’ (John Rawls) corresponds to the discourse in educational philosophy and educational science on the question of how a consensus on major objectives of public education in general and the role of religion in this context in particular can be reached. It will be demonstrated that the academic discourse around religious education can benefit from dialogue and interaction with the social theories of (the later) Rawls and Habermas.