No Better Time for Public Theology: An Interview with Kyle A. Roberts

Many would have us believe talk about God is in decline. Hardly. The election of President Trump and his highly visible group of Faith-Based Advisors spurred Pastor Robert Jeffress to consider President Trump the most Faith Friendly President Ever.

Jeffress’ giddiness over the Trump aside, others have wondered to what sort of biblical king Trump compares. Richard Mouw dips into Public Theology in Comparing Trump to two biblical kings. Written for a general audience for those interested in religious perspectives, Mouw says he is willing to give his fellow evangelicals a hand at evaluating the new President,

The time is ripe now for evangelicals to conduct a job performance review in this regard. I have my Bible handy whenever Mr. Trump’s evangelical supporters are ready to get started!

Public Theology?

Some contend everyone is a theologian; everyone talks about God. That would mean anytime people engage in God-talk in public they are doing Public Theology.

Not exactly.

We would need to agree what sort of God-talk constitutes theology.  I have sought to help demystify the word, as a pastor, by encouraging people to think of theology as God-talk. But, I know many do not consider themselves theologians, nor do they want to.

Public Theology aims to engage issues of public concern – economics, environment, politics and more. The depth of engagement characterizes the particular discipline.

Not Merely Academic

While most of us do not have the time or training to explore all the nuances of, say, eco-theology, we do need those who do. My guest for this podcast is Kyle Roberts, the Schilling Professor of Public Theology and the Church and Economic Life at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

Kyle and I met at an event where he presented to a small conference. Over lunch, I learned that Kyle had once been a Southern Baptist which provided an immediate connection. We talked about his work and in particular the subject of Public Theology.

We talk about how Public Theologians may provide a resource for pastors. Most pastors do not have the time nor the training to explore highly technical subjects and their intersection with theology. We could ignore these resources were it not for the questions those in our congregations or parishes raise.

Too often we think them unrelated to faithfulness to Jesus and not incidental to conversations about faith, allegiance to Jesus. As more and more people, particularly young people, show concern for public subjects like health care, the environment, human-trafficking, market abuses and more, we will need an awareness of these genuine concerns and how they intersect faith in the Lord Jesus.

Practical Theology Is Both Public and Parish

Kyle makes sure to note that what pastors often engage in, described as Practical Theology, shares the public space with Public Theology. Both disciplines help shape the life of faith communities.

Who are Public Theologians you look to as resources for those areas that require more than just a cursory awareness of the issues? Consider Kyle someone to consider.

If you find the podcast helpful, share it with your friends. Share it with your pastor friends as well as folks you know involved in leadership that touches on the pastoral. Also, consider heading over to iTunes, login, search for patheological and give us a five star rating and a kind review.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

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