The purpose of this study about theological aspects of culture and social ethics is to investigate the relation between the theological tradition arising from Luther and the cultural immateriality which is culturally expressed in material progress and work. It is necessary to remember that it was Protestant theology itself that enabled this secularization process. Protestantism and modernity with its secularization proposal are processes that condition one another. Paul Tillich calls modernity and secularization the “Protestant Era” in the context of the Western culture of economic progress. It was mainly the theological tradition of the Enlightenment that separated the kingdom of the right from the kingdom of the left, law and gospel, creation and redemption, in such a way that the scope of creation became so autonomous that it dismissed the justification through the work of Christ, the gospel.
According to recent data there has been a considerable increase in lethal violence in Brazil as well as evidence of a growing brutality. Such data bears witness to the wide perception of impunity and the apparent commonality, even an acceptance of killing. The general political and economic insecurity reinforces a sense of abandonment among the population. The affluent hire private security services. The poor, with no alternative option, become victims of crime and drug trafficking wars. The police are often a part of organized crime rather than combatting such. They are understaffed and underequipped. The prison system is unfit to promote resocialization. What can the churches, theology and the state do to establish and foster justice worthy of the name? The purpose of this article is to analyse the situation in Brazil, referring to acclaimed interpreters as historian Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, to ponder possible reasons for violence using the sociological theory of resonance by Hartmut Rosa, and to reflect on a theology of justice that, rather than revenge, emphasises transformation, forgiveness and reconciliation. Through reference to Jürgen Moltmann, it seeks to show how a public theology can contribute to such transformation.