In A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good award winning writer and theologian Miroslav Volf argues that there is no single way for Christian faith to relate to culture as a whole, but rather that its interaction is varied, dynamic, and always Christ-centered. To this end, Volf explores major issues on the frontlines of faith today by asking these poignant questions: 1) In what way does the Christian faith come to malfunction in the contemporary world, and how should we counter these malfunctions?
2) What should a Christian's main concern be when it comes to living well in the world today?
3) How should we go about realizing a vision for human flourishing in relation to other faiths and under the roof of a single state?
Our society is an asking an increasingly important question in a very critical way: what is the role, if any, of religion in the public square? With the recent announcement that our planet's population has reached 7 billion people, it has become clear that we are more interconnected than ever, and that the beliefs and practices of various cultures and religions are going to compete for a larger share of influence in our new global society.
Because of these events, it is more important than ever that we ask how our faith as Christians relates to the contemporary public and pluralist life of all people. The question becomes even more important when we recognize that each religion will attempt to shape its influence on public life through their sacred texts. So then, how does, or should, the Christian faith relate to the public sphere?
Finally, Volf addresses practical questions such as faithful witness in a multifaith society and political engagement in a pluralistic world. Compelling and informative, A Public Faith highlights things Christians can do to serve the common good. Accessible and succinct and intended for a broad audience.
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Review 1 for A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good
A Welcomed Insight by Volf...
Date:October 7, 2011
Miroslav Volf’s “A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good” is a well-articulated and well-formulated guide to how Christians should both understand the nature of their religion as a “prophetic religion” and how they should go about fulfilling the task of “interchange with the world”, that is, when “the message is spoken, enacted, built into liturgies or institutions, or embodied in laws”. To this end Volf clarifies the malfunctional pitfalls of idleness, whether by immorality or silence in so-called “secular” territory, or coercion, be it with violence or mistreatment, we Christians can fall into that disrupt our mission to bring about human flourishing in Christ. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on “Sharing Wisdom” as it informs us to not only share our Christian wisdom to assist others towards more meaningful lives, but also to be receptive to the wisdom of other religions, sort of difficult when we falsely assume that we have all the answers instead of realizing that at one point in history all legitimate forms of wisdom was made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth in whom we worship and follow, and therefore, wisdom from other religions is perfectly compatible with our faith.
My single contention was the language at times was a bit too technical for a topic that needs to be addressed at the popular level and therefore should be more easily digestible. The lay Christians in America need this message and wisdom in order to accomplish their task for this generation caught in the tangles of a life characterized by “self-satisfying experiences”. But other than that, Volf’s organization of the content makes it quite easy to pick back up and refresh one’s memory when it comes time to implement the book on terra firma. So this book wouldn’t be a bad choice to carry in one’s backpack, bag, or suitcase as one seeks to bring about healing in our broken world.
With that said, if “A Public Faith” is seriously read and implemented to shape the way we as Christians approach the wider-culture to accomplish our call to love the world as Christ himself did, we can not only avoid repeating the tragic mistakes of the past, but we will actively contribute to all areas of life—social, political, economic, and private— as we help the world along, other religions included.