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To highlight this challenge, the author brings forth a most difficult and bothersome question that has evolved out of the dynamic mix of cultural diversity in, That question is: How can the Christian Americans hold on to their patriotism for ...
To highlight this challenge, the author brings forth a most difficult and bothersome question that has evolved out of the dynamic mix of cultural diversity in, That question is: How can the Christian Americans hold on to their patriotism for America and their loyalty to Jesus Christ with uncompromising conviction, and yet, be inclusive of the growing influx of cultural diversity and religious pluralism in a high technological society?
This book provides the theological foundation for validating the Christian and American heritage in America; and how this unique heritage must learn how to relate, redemptively, to cultural diversity, ecumenism, universalism and the world.
The enlightening principles and practice of public theology offer a ray of light and a star of hope out of the darkness.
This book is not intended to be an academically scholarly research written book for hermeneutical debate and discussion. You will not find the usual voluminous superfluous research references and footnotes. The well-written researched enumerated books are often useful for information and scholarly purposes. We are fortunate to have a vast resource of such books available and in our libraries.
This volume, The Way Out of Darkness - Through Public Theology, is intended to be written in a language and style that can be easily understood by the laity and persons who are not necessarily seminary trained. This book is an attempt to make basic theological knowledge easily understood for the general population, including those outside of the church and Christianity. It is vital that basic theological knowledge be packaged for dissemination to the general public. One of the aims of this book is to begin the process or contribute to the process of overcoming the theological/biblical knowledge deficit in the society and in the world.
It is acknowledged that theological knowledge is voluminous and no one can master all of it. The aim of this book is to present some foundational principles of theology and core biblical truths that are relevant and vital for human survival. There is an urgency to overcoming the theological knowledge deficit to prevent an impending global technological catastrophe. The world has become too dangerous for our leaders and citizens to be theologically uninformed. It is a compounded tragedy to perish for a lack of knowledge.
It is tragic because the knowledge and blue print for human survival is available. It has been available for over 2000 years. It is the urgent challenge of theology and theologians to decipher the core values and the primary salvation message of religion to be instilled in religious, educational, industrial, cultural and social institutions. It is a must that leaders embrace the core values of true religion, theological knowledge and the highest and most sound ethical and moral values.
Mass media, propelled by advance information technology, bombards society daily with the crime problem, the political, economic and social problems. Since we are inundated daily with the social and cultural crises, it would be superfluous and redundant to dwell on the problems and crises. Therefore, this literary work will be devoted to defining the meaning and the critical role of public theology in a nation and a society that is going down the immoral, unethical and idolatrous slippery slope of no return.
The premises, inferences, assumptions and principles of this book can be verified by theological study and the authoritative biblical truth of the Holy Bible. It is my hope that this book will generate more interest in the study of theology and the Bible as well as consultation with those who are knowledgeable of God's Word. It is my hope that persons who want to know more about God's Word and God's Will, will feel free to consult with knowledgeable Christians, join fellowships and Bible classes as well as establish fellowship groups and Bible study groups in and out of the church. It goes without saying that increased knowledge and understanding of the Bible will bring about increased knowledge and understanding of public theology. Most, if not all of the premises set forth in this book will be self evident and will not require the additions of references and footnotes.
One major premise of this book is that God has set the standards for all human relationships in God's divine law and his natural laws. God has set the standards for human conduct and human covenants and relationships. The second premise that is assumed under the first premise is that when God's standards (laws) are violated the consequences are detrimental to the human enterprise. These premises are so self-evident that it would be superfluous to enumerate and document the evidence. However, for those who want the evidence, I suggest that they study the Bible, listen to and look at the daily news. You will find them replete with violations and consequences.
Statutory laws are manmade laws. They can be changed, eliminated and re-written. Statutory laws can be in congruence with divine law and natural law or in conflict with them. Statutory manmade laws cannot change the divine laws and natural laws made by God. When statutory laws go against the divine laws of God as revealed in the Holy Bible and the natural laws in nature, they become contrary to God's Will and the natural order of the universe. The consequence of such contrary laws become transgressive perversions that are doomed for failure and destruction.
Laws and behavior that are contrary to God's Will are damaging and destructive to society and humanity as a whole. Therefore, it is the responsibility of civilized, representative government to eliminate and prohibit the establishment of laws that would allow and sanction behavior and policies that go against divine law, natural law and valid congruent statutory laws. Divine laws and natural laws are based on the truth, justice, sound doctrine and the righteousness of God. In the making of statutory laws, theology can determine whether those statutory laws are in congruence with divine law and natural law.
Manmade laws and human judicial decisions are often arbitrary, relative, opinionated and even biased. It is commonplace to witness split decisions by the U. S. Supreme Court with five to four margins that could go either way. It is clear that legal decisions are not always right, just or good decisions. Therefore, statutory law is open to the sanction and the validation of wrong, unnatural and unjust legal decisions. Also, the wide latitude of judicial discretion that judges have, allows for arbitrary judicial decisions and abuse of authority. It must be noted that arbitrary decisions and abuse of authority is not limited to judges or the judicial system. It happens at every level of society. Public theology can play a major and significant role in reducing and eliminating harmful arbitrary and capricious decisions.
Public theology provides a transcendent dimension above political science, government and culture. Theology has validated divine revelatory knowledge and moral laws that supersede manmade laws and ordinary human knowledge. There is an urgency that this theological knowledge be made public in every arena of life and especially among leaders. Since this knowledge has been available for over two thousand years, one may raise the question, "Why must this vital theological knowledge be applied with such urgency?" The answer is obvious and simple: For the first time in the history of civilization, humanity is living on the brink of disaster.
Public theology is inclusive of ethics, morality, mercy love and the Will of God. Theology is knowledgeable of the standards set by God. Theology knows that humanity is at the mercy of God. Human culture cannot solve itself. The increased knowledge and the increased sophistication of technology have increased the possibility of humankind self-destruction. Therefore, the answer is not found in secular knowledge or the scientific technology. Secular knowledge and secular technology empower man's ability to self-destruct.
It is the transcendent dimensions of theology that declares that human life and the soul of man are supreme sacred values that reflect the image and likeness of God. Human life and the human soul must be reverenced with the utmost respect. Jesus declared, "Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:40, KJV). Theology declares that degradations and violations of human life are offensive to God and are in opposition to God's Will. Theology knows that if the ills of the world are to be corrected and healed there must be a primacy of respect and love for human life from the womb to the tomb.
Theology has documented historically that the Holy Bible has the longest continuity of divine revelatory knowledge than any other volume in history. This record of divine revelation covers a historical period of more than four thousand years. It reveals God's intention and God's progressive self-disclosure in human history. It is a progressive revelation because theology has traced its development from its beginning, genesis, development, growth, completion and culmination in the fulfillment of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the beginning, the development, growth and the completion of the Bible. Therefore, the understanding and the interpretation of all scripture must be done in the light of Jesus Christ and his Gospel. Jesus Christ, the mind of Christ and the Holy Spirit are the final authority and interpreter of scripture and truth.
The Bible must be judged as a whole. It must be judged by its beginning, progressive development and culmination in Jesus Christ. It cannot be rightly, adequately or validly judged on the basis of any singular parts or persons included among and in its 66 Books. It must be judged by its Alpha and Omega.
If the Holy Bible is not the validated universal authority for humanity, what is that validated authority? If Jesus Christ is not the validated way, truth and life for humanity, who is the validated way, truth and life for humanity? If there is another name other than Jesus Christ given among men whereby we must be saved, name the name.
The Principles and Practice of Public Theology is a guide for implementing God's salvation plan for this world. This plan is a part of God's divine master plan for humankind. This plan is biblically based in Christian theology. This is a clear practical plan based on God's Word, common sense, common logic, reasonable rationality, compassion and the Will of God. It is mandated and authorized by God. It teaches, equips, guides and gives meaning and significance to all salvation plans of benevolence and goodwill. It is a comprehensive and inclusive plan.
This plan includes the benevolent and divine use of science, art and religion. It includes the private and public. It includes educational institutions, business and industry. It includes all races, cultures, nationalities and humanity. It is based on the revealed knowledge from God above. This divine knowledge comes from beyond human culture to save human culture and human souls.
What is this plan and how can it be implemented? The plan is to use the knowledge of God to do the Will of God. Theology has sufficient knowledge and principles of God to determine the Will of God. The guiding principles for the Will of God are truth, justice, goodness, righteousness, mercy, love, benevolence, goodwill, wisdom, knowledge, understanding and the Holy Spirit. These principles can be taught and applied in every human situation. The adherence to, and the application of, these principles constitute the Will of God. These principles can be applied in every situation by all people everywhere.
The living principles and attributes of God consist of the vertical dimension from God. Another way of expressing the vertical dimension, which is the channel from God to humanity, is the theological perspective. The theological perspective is that perspective or view from the Will of God. The theological perspective can be applied in every human situation. The theological perspective is a consult with the Will or Spirit of God. The theological consult requests God's Will, God's way, God's wisdom, God's understanding and God's guidance in all decisions and actions.
This request of God's Will is utilized through seeking God's Will through the vertical theological perspectives found in the divine ethical principles provided by God. The principles of righteousness, justice and love are based on true and sound doctrine. In every imaginable human situation a theological perspective can be applied. The application of the theological perspective is the right, ethical, moral and pro-life decision. The theological perspective provides an opportunity for an enlightened right and best rational and ethical decision.
Human decisions and actions void of the theological perspective run the risk of being haphazard, random and arbitrary. Arbitrary decisions are often misguided and unethical and subsequently, wreak tragic consequences. Decisions and actions void of theological consult and perspective are unenlightened and lack moral authority. The margin of error in decision-making and actions must be minimized to reduce costly mistakes and human suffering. Bad decisions usually result in bad consequences. The theological perspective offers an opportunity to make good rational intelligent decisions.
The convergence of diverse cultures, religions, races, ethnicities and nationalities coupled with technological capabilities, makes it mandatory to adopt the theological perspective decision- making approach.
As the society becomes more complex, the decision-making must become more accurate. The hope for that increased accuracy lies in the vertical dimension of public theology and the theological perspective.
The biblical mandates have always required the theological perspective in decision-making and actions. The associated complexities of modern technological society has ushered in the urgency of the biblical mandates of the theological perspective. It is clear that the social sciences, natural sciences and government bureaucracies do not have the answers to face the challenges of the ongoing threatening culture crises in the world of the 21st century.
Therefore, the theological perspective, which has always been with humankind, must now be asserted with urgency and full force. This vertical dimensional message from God must be spread horizontally to all people through the leadership of public theology. Since theological knowledge is so scarce and limited in the public and private sector, there must be a vigorous reinforcement in the education and training of public theologians. Theological training must be geared towards practical applications in all areas of society. The practice of public theology must be expanded beyond the traditional roles of theology, which has been primarily in the church. It must be expanded to educational institutions, business and other industrial enterprises.
Public theology is the challenging new outpost for the church. It is the institution of the church that must put forth the leadership in the training and practice of public theology. The crises and turmoils in the society are threatening to overwhelm society and the church. The church is that institution which is connected with the theological perspective from God. Therefore, the church must expand and accelerate its mission and broaden its ministerial horizons.
This book is written to give focus, direction and reinforcement To the public theology movement. It is written to enhance the building of strong public theological institutions to specialize in the training and the practice of the primary survival theological principles for the human family. Through the validated sound doctrines of truth, a healthier culture and a more congenial sanctuary for the human spirit can be reconstructed in the global society. The public theology movement will give the church a challenge and an opportunity to share outside of its walls, the salvation knowledge of Jesus Christ and to unleash its spiritual citadel of faith, hope and love.
In an effort to provide continuous support for the public theology movement, two organizations were incorporated through the state of Georgia in September and October 2002 respectively. The first not-for-profit organization is the Christian Institute of Public Theology. This organization is incorporated to provide education, training and service for public theology. The second not-for-profit organization is the Christian Association of Public Theologians. This is a fellowship and membership organization to carry out the mission of public theology. On September 22 - 23, 2006, the Christian Association of Public Theologians held its first annual conference at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Robert M. Franklin, former president of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, Georgia was the keynote speaker for the first Christian Association of Public Theologians (CAPT) Conference. Dr. Franklin is a leading advocate for public theology. The initial members of CAPT were my students who graduated from the certificate in theology program through ITC in Atlanta from 2001-2006.
Excerpted from The Way out of Darkness by Willie James Webb Copyright © 2007 by Willie James Webb. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted February 14, 2008