Studies in Christian Ethics 17 (2):5-19 (2004)

This article examines the changing scope and method of ecumenical public theology from the World Missionary Conference of 1910 until the present. Most changes were made in response to the changing ideological and political contexts. The collapse of liberalism and the social gospel was followed by a type of confessional ethics which arose directly out of the German Church Struggle. In opposition to this there emerged a realist ecumenical social ethics, much indebted to Reinhold Niebuhr, and of Ronald Preston. This type of public theology and its distinctive ‘middle axiom’ method are examined and contrasted with the more recent public theologies which were influenced by liberation theology and grassroots movements. It is suggested that the ending of the Cold War and the fundamental changes that have taken place since September 11 2001 present a radically new kind of challenge to public theology
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DOI 10.1177/095394680401700209
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