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Drawing on the writings of German pastor-theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jennifer M. McBride constructs a groundbreaking theology of public witness for Protestant church communities in the United States. In contrast to the triumphal manner in which many Protestants have engaged the public sphere, The Church for the World shows how the church can offer a nontriumphal witness to the lordship of Christ through repentant activity in public life.
After investigating current Christian conceptions of witness in the United States, McBride offers a new theology for repentance as public witness, based on Bonhoeffer's thought concerning Christ, the world, and the church. McBride takes up Bonhoeffer's proposal that repentance may be reinterpreted "non-religiously," expanding and challenging common understandings of the concept. Finally, she examines two church communities that exemplify ecclesial commitments and practices rooted in confession of sin and repentance. Through these communities she demonstrates that confession and repentance may be embodied in various ways yet also discerns distinguishing characteristics of a redemptive public witness.
The Church for the World offers important insights about Christian particularity and public engagement in a pluralistic society as it provides a theological foundation for public witness that is simultaneously bold and humble: when its mode of being in the world is confession of sin unto repentance, the church demonstrates Christ's redemptive work and becomes a vehicle of concrete redemption.
Jennifer M. McBride is Board of Regents Chair in Ethics and Assistant Professor of Religion at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. She received her doctorate in philosophical theology from the Religious Studies Department at the University of Virginia and was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Religious Practices and Practical Theology at Emory University's Candler School of Theology. McBride serves on the Board of Directors of the International Bonhoeffer Society, English Language Section and is co-editor of Bonhoeffer and King: Their Legacies and Import for Christian Social Thought.
Table of Contents
Preface and Acknowledgments
Part I: Public Witness in a Pluralistic Society Chapter One - Introduction: Confession and Repentance as Public Witness Chapter Two - Evaluating Public Witness in the United States
Part II: A Theology of Public Witness Based on Bonhoeffer's Thought Chapter Three - Christ's Public Presence: The Foundation and Form for Ecclesial Witness Chapter Four - Belonging: Participation in the World's Christological Pattern Chapter Five - The Church's Public Presence: Visibility through Confession and Repentance
Part III: Contours of a Repenting Church Chapter Six - The Eleuthero Community: Confession and Repentance through Unlearning and Learning Anew Chapter Seven: The Southeast White House: A Local Presence in a Neglected Neighborhood Conclusion: Concrete Implications of an Ecclesial Witness Based on Repentance