What is ‘public theology’? Does it mean the arts? Public policy? Party politics? The answer is: probably all of these. Here we are dealing with a rather ill-formed topic, on which there has not been a consistent viewpoint. This volume, based on the Eleventh Oak Hill Annual School of Theology, offers a conversation among those who represent a consistently orthodox evangelicalism, who see public life in relation to the Christian gospel in quite different ways, but who are committed to thinking biblically about the matter and coming to a common mind.
Daniel Strange lectures in Public Theology at Oak Hill College. He gives a summary of the state of the debate, with both historical and contemporary viewpoints. Kirsten Birkett has a distinguished publishing record as a simplifier and communicator of complex ideas. She summarizes relevant aspects of the thought of probably the most significant but complex of contemporary evangelical writers, Oliver O’Donovan. David Field takes us back to a great Scottish theologian of the seventeenth century, Samuel Rutherford, whose masterpiece Lex, rex – which later provided a theological basis for the American Constitution – was condemned in England as treasonable. Garry Williams shows how contemporary theories about the cross of Christ reflect different understandings of how punishment might rightly operate, in the context of justice and law. A sermon by David Field concludes the volume.