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The common good is a surprisingly elusive concept. While we may reasonably assume it to describe a life of shared purpose and solidarity in ordered, just, and equitable community, there is, unsurprisingly, no one agreed description of the shape and structure of such a life – which is why those who write about the common good often prioritize the quality of the conversation over the substance of the vision. This article holds the notion of the common good, for all its imprecision, to be nonetheless importantly, and demonstrably, more than the sum of its variously described parts. It explores some historical and contemporary understandings of the common good before proposing an holistic and essentially Christological approach, rooted in a responsible and participatory account of being drawn principally from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theology.

In: International Journal of Public Theology
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Abstract

Christianity and democracy have in common the idea of equality before God and the law. But how seriously was this notion taken by the Christian architects of modern representative democracy, and how seriously is it taken in today’s deeply unequal democratic societies? Democracy has long embraced the idea of a formal equality of persons but has generally held substantive equality to be incompatible with the secure possession of private property, which is its overriding priority. This article explores the relationships of Christianity and democracy to property and wealth, and the ever-present tension in both between less and more rigorous forms of each. Christianity and democracy are for many people little more than identity markers, but their survival as robust and relevant approaches to social life depends on a vision – which includes Christ’s teachings on renunciation and democracy’s egalitarian ethos – underlying the forms.

In: International Journal of Public Theology
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The threat now posed by human beings to the future of life on Earth demands a genuinely global response. It would seem to require a global ethic of some kind that is more than the sum of humanity’s existing declarations of rights and freedoms, wars of intercession, and judicial systems of redress – a concrete ethic of global responsibility which normalises altruistic behaviours while at the same time greatly extending their scope. This article makes the case for such an ethic. It is underpinned by the conviction that human beings do not ‘begin and end with themselves in their knowing’ and takes the view that to see the world as meaningful and whole in its own right; to embrace wholeheartedly the idea that everything is connected; to see oneself as real only in relationship, as free only for others, and as finally responsible – before God – for one’s actions, shapes a way of being in the world that gives those who practise it the opportunity to construct a fully inclusive ethic of justice, care, and compassion for the whole creation.

In: International Journal of Public Theology