Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology

James K.A. Smith. Baker Academic, $22.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8010-3579-1
In this third volume of philosophy professor Smith’s Cultural Liturgies project (after You Are What You Love), he makes a nuanced critique of the contemporary church’s involvement in the political sphere. He argues for a “posture correction” that will empower Christians to “work for justice—laboring to build humane economies and life-giving cities.” Engaging with the ideas of multiple theologians—beginning with Augustine, whose City of God is the “animating source” of Smith’s project—Smith explores characteristics of a “Christian public theology” that defies a “neat-and-tidy compartmentalization of the spiritual and the political.” Smith posits both that “Christian worship is political in nature... led by—an ascended King” and that the civic sphere brims with religious elements: “Our public rituals have the force of rites.” Buttressing his analyses with plentiful references to popular culture, Smith makes complex theological arguments accessible to lay readers. Though he writes from an unapologetically evangelical perspective, Smith’s cultural sensitivity and in-depth exploration of multiple political and philosophical perspectives offer Christians across the political spectrum a welcome, constructive contribution to contemporary debates about church and politics. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/20/2017
Release date: 11/01/2017
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