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A Theology More Useful: Public Theology as Edification

In: International Journal of Public Theology
Author: Graeme Smith1
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  • 1 Professor of Public Theology, University of Chichester, Chichester, England
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Abstract

The article argues that Richard Rorty’s idea of edification should be adopted as the central approach of public theology. It begins by outlining Rorty’s definition of edification before exploring the argument in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature which led to this definition. Various critical responses are then explored, especially the critique by Roy Bhaskar that Rorty’s approach is politically frivolous. It is suggested, however, that the criticism that Rorty is either relativist or unconcerned with ethical agency is unfair. Instead, rather than being concerned with different types of speaking Truth to power, public theologians should be focused on producing novel, unique and eye-catching redescriptions of social and political phenomena.

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