Public Theology and Its Application

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Abstract

Religion is often an integral part of human life. It is important to argue that higher religion serves two positive roles. Firstly, on a more “private” level, it is associated with the concept of personal salvation from a transcendental point of view for the followers of each religion. Secondly, in terms of the ‘public’ aspect, it serves as a prophetic criticism of the society that adheres to that religion and therefore helps purify and heal that society. Professor Martin Marty, a renowned theologian in the United States, has explored the concept of the “public” sphere within the framework of ‘public theology’. His influential work has acquired significant recognition since the 1970s. Marty’s comprehensive theology provides a detailed explanation of the purpose and essentiality of public religion. This study seeks to illustrate the strong alignment between the public ministry of Pastor Cheon-Yeong Lee in South Korea and Marty’s perspective on public theology. The authors have observed Lee’s life serving the Goryeoin Village community in Gwangju and analyzed Lee’s works in detail. This paper aims to suggest that this public model, as practiced by Lee, can be a fruitful method whose application can benefit many countries and people who are experiencing socio-political-spiritual alienation and conflict around the world.