The role of the public theologian

Samuel Wells, vicar of St. Martin in the Fields in central London, asks: “What is the task of the apologetic theologian or, more specifically, the constitutional prelate, once the ear of educated elites has been secured?” He answers:

I suggest that the task is not simply to expose the inadequacy of a world without God or to show the collaborative spirit of religious engagement in the common good. It surely must more specifically be to demonstrate the unique power and thrilling wisdom of the logic of God in Christ and to reconceive tired issues in the light of the shape of Christ’s coming. The authority and the credibility of the public theologian rest not so much on the theologian’s insight, intelligence, or subtle grasp of complex issues (wondrous as each may be) as on the ability—respectfully, lucidly, and accessibly—to show how Christ redefines human nature, transforms death, and overturns the givens of life; to show what only God can do and what only God has done; and more intriguingly, to highlight the way that questions in public life today reflect and recall issues faced by the church in shaping and embodying Christian doctrine.



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