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date: 10 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers the meaning, spirit, and normative direction of Christian ‘public life’ in the theology and ethics of Karl Barth. Barth viewed the notion of public life quite expansively without losing sight of an area of human existence that one might reasonably call ‘private’. The spirit of Christian public life for him crucially includes both a Christocentric imagination and a secular sensibility. Additionally, it involves the responsive virtues of hope, humility, courage, and merciful solidarity with one’s fellow human creatures. I approach the question of the normative direction or directions basic to Christian public existence by reflecting on Barth’s specific treatment of Jesus Christ’s call to discipleship along with his analysis of ‘the lordless powers’ in his unfinished ethics of reconciliation.

Keywords: Christocentrism, discipleship, imagination, lordless powers, public life, private sphere, secular, virtues

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