Monthly Archives: February 2012

If public theology began in Swift Hall in the mid 70s, then …

… what exactly are we being trained to become?


The “contemporary use” of the term “public theology” originated in Martin Marty’s 1974 article “Two Kinds of Two Kinds of Civil Religion [sic].”

–Mary Doak, Reclaiming Narrative for Public Theology (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2004), 5.


“There is general agreement that Martin Marty was the first person to intentionally use the term public theology and provide a description of it. […] Marty identified two main kinds of civil religion, both of which existed in two forms. One kind of religion takes a critical and prophetic theological stance toward the nation and its leaders [e.g. Reinhold Niebuhr and Jonathan Edwards]. [Another kind] represents public theology from the church’s side [e.g. Walter Rauchenbusch and Benjamin Franklin].”

— E. Harold Breitenberg, “What is Public Theology?”, in Public Theology for a Global Society:  Essays in Honor of Max L. Stackhouse (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010), 7-8.