Modern Believing


Modern Believing (2020), 61, (1), 7–21.


This article asks what happens when theology ‘goes public’: what some of the key issues are in relation to the changing profile and role of religion in society – global, local and national – and how theologians have approached the issue of how the voices of faith might speak into the public domain. Where are the critical points in society, economics, politics, health and welfare where we feel the voices and influence of people of faith are most effective; and where are they absent; or most needed? What moves us to hope and action in relation to our ‘common life’?

Access Token
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here


Ahern, K. Clark, M. Heyer, K. and Johnston, L., eds. (2016) Public Theology and the Global Common Good. New York: Orbis. Google Scholar

Archbishops’ Council Lay Leadership Task Group (2016) Setting God’s People Free. London: Church House Publishing. Google Scholar

Baker, C. R. (2012) ‘Spiritual Capital and Economies of Grace: Redefining the Relationship between Religion and the Welfare State’, Social Policy and Society, pp. 565–76. Google Scholar

Bedford-Strohm, H. (2007) ‘Nurturing Reason: The Public Role of Religion in the Liberal State’, Ned Geref Teologiese Tydskrif, 48 (1–2), pp. 25–41. Google Scholar

Bonhoeffer, D. (1971) Ethics. London: SCM Press. Google Scholar

Breitenberg, E. H. (2003) ‘To Tell the Truth: WILL the real Public Theology please stand up?’, Journal of Society of Christian Ethics, 23 (2), pp. 55–96. Google Scholar

Breitenberg, E. H. (2010) ‘What is Public Theology?’ in Public Theology for a Global Society. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, pp. 3–17. Google Scholar

Brown, M., Pattison, S. and Smith, G. (2012) ‘The Possibility of Citizen Theology: Public Theology after Christendom and the Enlightenment’, International Journal of Public Theology, 6 (2), pp. 183–204. Google Scholar

Bruce, S. (2002) God is Dead: Secularization in the West. Oxford: Blackwell. Google Scholar

Bullivant, S. (2017) The ‘No Religion’ Population of Britain. London: Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society, St. Mary’s University Twickenham. Google Scholar

ComRes (2013) The Spirit of Things Unseen Spirituality Survey. London: Theos. Google Scholar

de Gruchy, J. (2007) ‘Public Theology as Christian Witness: Exploring the Genre’, International Journal of Public Theology, 1 (1), pp. 26–41. Google Scholar

Dinham, A. (2012) Faith and Social Capital After the Debt Crisis. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Google Scholar

Everett, A. (2018) After the Fire: Finding Words for Grenfell. London: Canterbury Press. Google Scholar

Forrester, D. B. (2004) ‘The Scope of Public Theology’, Studies in Christian Ethics, 17 (2), pp. 5–19. Google Scholar

Fuller, R. (2001) Spiritual but not Religious. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar

Graham, E. (2013) Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Public Theology in a Post-Secular Age. London: SCM Press. Google Scholar

Graham, E. (2017) Apologetics Without Apology: Speaking of God in a World Troubled by Religion. Eugene, OR: Cascade. Google Scholar

Graham, E. and Lowe, S. (2009) What Makes a Good City? Public Theology and the Urban Church. London: Darton, Longman and Todd. Google Scholar

Habermas, J. (1989) ‘The Public Sphere’ in J. Habermas, ed. Jürgen Habermas on Society and Politics: A Reader. First published 1964. Boston: Beacon Press, pp. 231–6. Google Scholar

Harris, S. (2005) The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. London: Free Press. Google Scholar

Hjelm, T., ed. (2015) Is God Back? Considering the New Visibility of Religion. London: Bloomsbury. Google Scholar

Hogue, M. (2010) ‘After the Secular: Toward a Pragmatic Public Theology’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 78 (2), pp. 346–74. Google Scholar

Hollenbach, D. (2006) The Common Good and Christian Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

Kettell, S. (2015) ‘Illiberal Secularism? Pro-faith Discourse in the United Kingdom’, in T. Hjelm, ed. Is God Back? Reconsidering the New Visibility of Religion. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 65–76. Google Scholar

Kim, S. (2011) Theology in the Public Sphere: Public Theology as a Catalyst for Open Debate. London: SCM Press. Google Scholar

Lloyd, G. (1984) The Man of Reason: ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ in Western Philosophy. London: Methuen. Google Scholar

Lynch, G. (2007) The New Spirituality: An Introduction to Progressive Belief in the Twenty-first Century. London: I.B. Tauris. Google Scholar

Maddox, M. (2007) ‘Religion, Secularism and the Promise of Public Theology’, International Journal of Public Theology, 1 (1), pp. 82–100. Google Scholar

National Centre for Social Research (2019) British Social Attitudes. 36th edition. London: NatCen Social Research. Google Scholar

Pearson, C. (2007) ‘The Quest for a Global Public Theology’, International Journal of Public Theology, 1 (2), pp. 151–72. Google Scholar

Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (2010) Religion among the Millennials. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Google Scholar

Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (2012) The Global Religious Landscape: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Population. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Google Scholar

Putnam, R. (2000) Bowling Alone. New York: Simon & Schuster. Google Scholar

Sagovsky, N. and McGrail, P. eds. (2015) Together for the Common Good: Towards a National Conversation. London: SCM Press. Google Scholar

Smit, D. (2007a) ‘What Does “Public” Mean? Questions with a View to Public Theology’ in L. Hansen, ed. Christian in Public: Aims, Methodologies and Issues in Public Theology. Stellenbosch: Sun Press, pp. 11–46. Google Scholar

Smit, D. (2007b) ‘Notions of the Public and Doing Theology’, International Journal of Public Theology, 1 (3–4), pp. 431–54. Google Scholar

Spencer, N. (2017) Doing Good: a Future for Christianity in the 21st Century. London: Theos. Google Scholar

Stackhouse, M. (2006) ‘Public Theology and Ethical Judgement’, Theology Today, 54 (2), pp. 165–91. Google Scholar

Stackhouse, M. L. (2007) God and Globalization, Volume 4: Globalization and Grace. New York: Continuum. Google Scholar

Stoddart, E. (2011) Theological Perspectives on a Surveillance Society: Watching and Being Watched. Farnham: Ashgate. Google Scholar

Strenski, I. (2010) Why Politics Can’t Be Freed From Religion. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Google Scholar

Tanner, K. (1996) ‘Public Theology and the Character of Public Debate’, Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics, 16 (1), pp. 79–102. Google Scholar

Tippett, K. (2004) Interview with Max Stackhouse. Online. Google Scholar

Tracy, D. (1981) The Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and the Culture of Pluralism. London: SCM Press. Google Scholar

Tracy, D. (1984) ‘The Role of Theology in Public Life: Some Reflections’, Word & World, 4 (3), pp. 230–9. Google Scholar

White, G. (2006) Talking about Spirituality in Health Care Practice. London: Jessica Kingsley. Google Scholar

Woodhead, L. (2014) ‘What People Really Believe About God, Religion and Authority’, Modern Believing, 55 (1), pp. 49–58. Google Scholar

Woodhead, L. and Catto, R. eds. (2012) Religion and Change in Modern Britain. London: Routledge. Google Scholar

Zsolnai, L. and Flanagan, B., eds. (2019) The Routledge International Handbook of Spirituality in Society and the Professions. London: Routledge. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here


Author details

Graham, Elaine