Secret Faith in the Public Square is a compelling, no, provocative argument for Christians to conceal their identities as Christians in their public lives. While citing numerous theological principles, Jonathan Malesic, shows that many Christians today are abusing the church for social, professional, political, and, of course, personal advancement and that this goes against the expressions of faith called for in Scripture.
Malesic grounds his arguments in the theological/ethical rubrics of the three of the church's greatest theologians: St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Soren Kierkegaard, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Malesic argues that Cyril made secrecy the foundation of his great Catechesis, that Kierkegaard in reaction to the Enlightenment and its inherent suspicion (a suspicion that we share in a "public" society) of the internal made it the ground of his Works of Love, and that Bonhoeffer, despite his popularity as an activist Christian, also articulated Christianity as a "secret" in his Cost of Discipleship.
It is this last argument that Malesic deveops into his own "theology of the secret", and subsequently uses to criticize one of America's leading voices for a visual and morally aggressive church, Stanley Hauerwas. Hauerwas, who cites Bonhoeffer often in his Performing the Faith, believes the church and the Christian should be publicly visible. Malesic believes that Hauerwas has fundamentally misread Bonhoeffer, and that Hauerwas' ethical paradigm in fact causes the very inward collapse of identity and morality in the church that Hauerwas is seeking to avoid. This book is a great read and sure to compel us to, at least, reconsider our roles in the public square.
Secret Faith in the Public Square was recently (2010) received an award of "Gold" in the category of Religion by Forward Magazine.
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