From its inception it has been a practice of the International Journal of Public Theology to publish selected articles out of the triennial consultation of the Global Network of Public Theology. The locations for these consultations have alternated in a deliberate fashion between the northern and southern hemisphere: they have striven as such to reflect the glocalized nature of this discipline. The host institution for the consultation is encouraged to set the theme for the papers to be presented. The 2019 consultation was held in Bamberg, Germany. Its theme had to do with ‘space and place’.
On this occasion the journal was assigned time and ‘space’ to reflect on its own life and how it fits in with what happens in this ever-emerging discipline. It became an opportune time for the editor to reflect on the significant initiatives undertaken by its founder, Sebastian Kim, once of York St. Johns University, now of Fuller. It was also a chance to reflect back upon new developments. What has been so striking in recent years has been the number of contributors from beyond the western world. The journal has been able to publish articles from many countries, especially from Asia, Latin America and Africa, where the author’s first language has not been English. It has led to a proliferation of fresh issues coming under theological scrutiny in a way which allows diverse contexts to feature on the international stage.
What was also striking was the role the journal has played in the evolution of public theology. That became obvious in an interview between the editor and the Dion Forster from Stellenbosch University in South Africa. On a count back articles from South Africa have featured more than from any other country. The flow of articles has been consistent over time. It has mean that Forster was able to reflect on shifts and changes in the practice of a public theology in his homeland. It became possible to discern an inter-generational critique that had arisen as new, younger voices began to emerge and espouse alternative approaches. It created an expectation of what next.
These two trends stood out: the first is the increasingly differentiated cultural and political backgrounds of contexts out of which articles are coming; the second is the possibility and likelihood of internal critique. Both are signs of a healthy discipline that continues to maintain its momentum.
Editor-in-Chief, Research Centre for Public and Contextual Theology, Charles Sturt University, Australia