The Public Theologian

Despite the noted concern of secularists and pragmatists, individuals will always bring their religiously-motivated, moral convictions to bear in public life, and rightfully so. Religion has a storied history in the United States of animating various social movements for peace, justice, and equality. It also has a history of being used to oppose the very same movements. Jermaine believes the Gospel calls for a public commitment to justice. To that end, heeding the words of Karl Barth, Jermaine’s approach to theology is to engage the Bible in one hand and the 24-hour cable news in the other (Barth actually said newspapers, but does anybody read physical newspapers anymore?).

Jermaine’s philosophy about religious engagement in public life is simple. Borrowing from pragmatism, Jermaine believes that religious communities must articulate their concerns in language accessible by a broader public. On the other hand, to reach religious communities, secularly grounded positions must be connected to broader narratives of “ultimate concern” and high ideals. Jermaine endeavors to do just that in his public ministry, addressing how the Gospel speaks to systemic injustice from the pulpit, developing church-based service projects whose motivation is social transformation, and using the tools of social media (blogging, facebook, twitter, and the like) to connect with like-minded others, speak truth to power, and bring a robust, progressive, public theology to bear in public and political life.

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