THL540 Public Theology (16)

This subject examines how theological perspectives may inform contemporary public contexts. It enables students to creatively develop appropriate, coherent and meaningful expressions of theologically derived insights in contexts often characterized by conflict and disagreement over such contributions. In addition, students will practice theological discussion of common public and political issues beyond the community of the Christian church, and will critically assess various modes of engagement between Christian theology and contemporary social life.

Subject Outlines
Current CSU students can view Subject Outlines for recent sessions. Please note that Subject Outlines and assessment tasks are updated each session.


Session 3 (90)
Canberra Campus
Term 1 (75)
On Campus
Ming Hua Theological College

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: THL540. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Theology

Enrolment Restrictions

Master of Theology and Bachelor of Theology (Honours) students only.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to outline and evaluate critically various recent accounts of public theology
  • be able to analyze critically the criteria of judgment by which a public discourse might be regarded as properly 'theological'
  • be able to analyze critically developments in public theological discourse, as compared to ancient modes of public theological discourse
  • be able to engage critically with accounts of public discourse that relegate theological discourse to a 'private' sphere
  • be able to analyze and evaluate critically expressions of public theological discourse by faith-based organizations
  • be able to create and communicate public theological discourses about various issues in public and social discussion, with arguments relevant to various 'publics' and which evidently display Christian theological derivation
  • be able to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the various domains of public theological discourse, and capacity to investigate and analyze critically these domains


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • What is 'public theology'? Identifying 'publics'; describing 'theologies'; evaluating proposals, developing an account.
  • The apologist's dance: Justin's, Tertullian's, and/or Augustine's 'dance' between 'proselytizing', protection of Christian community, and promotion of public good; comparisons to modern public theological discourse.
  • 'What's good for the goose': Contested notions of 'secularity'; the rise of 'public atheology'; the deployments of public theology and their various terms of engagement.
  • 'Imposing it': Analyzing and evaluating competing claims and complex negotiations over shared cultural space (often conducted under the heading 'Church and State'); understanding the liberal demand for 'public reasons'; creating a theological account of 'goods in common'; responding to the regulation(s) of forms of religious expression.
  • Political theology: Exploring distinctions between 'political theology' and 'public philosophy'; the applications of political theology for public theology.
  • 'Retrieval' and 'Cobelligerence': The political task of 'retrieval'; evaluating alliances for common good.
  • Modes of involvement: Finding and investigating domains of public theological discourse; analyzing and distinguishing various strategies of public theological activity deployed in these sources; creatively developing strategies of effective engagement.
  • After the invasion: Applications of theological concepts of grace, repentance/forgiveness and social justice, to indigenous, criminal justice and/or immigration issues.
  • Moderating the market: Critically evaluating public ideologies in economics and their overspill into domains of e.g.: care; family life; body dysmorphias; and/or human services delivery; injecting persuasive discourses in social justice into this cultural space.
  • 'Zarathustra's ape': Creative uses of media for public theology.


Current Students

For any enquiries about subject selection or course structure please contact Student Central or or phone on 1800 275 278.

Prospective Students

For further information about Charles Sturt University, or this course offering, please contact info.csu on 1800 275 278 (free call within Australia) or enquire online.

The information contained in the 2018 CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: August 2018. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.