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May 04, 2023

In his book, The Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and the Culture of Pluralism,
David Tracy identifies three “publics” or social realities in which one can speak of God and
Jesus Christ: the academy, the church, and the broader society. The idea behind this distinction is
that yes, Christian thinkers should be speaking to all three, but each represents a different culture
world and thus a different way of engaging it. This creates a particular challenge for Public
Theology as Christians find themselves amid these distinctions, perhaps even simultaneously.
Nonetheless, the call of the church is to be light to the world and part of that commissioning is to
proclaim the truths of the Scriptures to contemporary situations. This means the church must be
students not only of Scripture but of culture as well. This is done not to mimic culture’s practices
but to understand its plausibility structures and beliefs in order to speak the truth into it. There is
a myriad of cultural issues to discuss but in the current cultural climate some bubble up to the
top. This is the task of the assignment, to choose a relevant topic/issue and discuss it as if you
were speaking to the broader society, essentially doing public theology which is, as Vanhoozer
and Strachan state, “theologically informed discourse aimed at the general public.”1


Students will write a 3500 – 5000-word paper on one of the topics listed below. As students
develop the topic, they should keep in mind the context (audience) to which the paper is directed
– the general public. This means that the paper should reflect what has been learned concerning
the practice of public theology. Below are some assignment requirements and general

Regarding sources, the paper should use the Bible appropriately (not quoting verses at length)
along with at least 10 additional high-quality sources. Church websites are inappropriate for this
assignment and Journal Articles must be used only sparingly (no more than three). Websites of
official organizations related to the topic or government agencies and educational
institutions (such as pro-abortion groups and advocates) may be used for factual information and
statistics but do not count towards the 10 minimum sources. Course texts should be used
sparingly in this assignment and do not count toward the 10 minimum sources.

Regarding formatting, the paper must follow Turabian and School of Divinity guidelines
regarding formatting, style, grammar, and graduate quality of work.

Regarding the scope, the paper must remain narrow and focused in scope. This allows the writer
ample space to thoroughly develop the topic at hand.

Page 2 of 4

Regarding the topic, below are some high-level categories with more specific topic
suggestions/questions within each. Keep in mind that students do not have to choose the exact
specific sub-level topic but do need to stay within the high-level categories listed below. Please
keep in mind that at the graduate level, topics must be narrow in scope so whatever is chosen
from the sections below needs to be specific and refined.

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