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North American evangelicals display a growing concern to engage the public square with wisdom. This essay explores how the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers might contribute to a more robust understanding of public theology. It makes an argument in three movements: 1) it clarifies terms; 2) explores three public theologians as exemplars (Drs. Don Davis, Robert Romero and Paige Cunningham); and 3) suggests specific applications for ecclesial-minded public theologians. Hank Voss is assistant professor of Christian Ministry at Taylor University. He has authored, co-authored, or edited twelve books including The Priesthood of All Believers and the Missio Dei (2016), the forthcoming Introduction to Evangelical Theology (T&T Clark, 2021) and the T&T Clark Reader in Global Evangelical Theology (2022). He serves as Senior National Staff with The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI), and he directs the Lilly funded Sacred Roots Thriving in Ministry Project for which he is currently editing Aelred of Rievaulx’s (d. 1167) classic, Spiritual Friendship.

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting 3for him to return as our Savior. (Philippians 3:20, NLT)

The local church should identify the most grievous injustices−local, regional, and national− and strive to rectify them, in concert with all who seek to right the wrong.

—Carl F. H. Henry1

Recent works by Kevin Vanhoozer, Daniel Treier, and James K. A. Smith illustrate a growing concern among North American evangelical theological educators to engage the public square with wisdom.2 Public theology is concerned with how Christian scholars and churches can serve as winsome witnesses to the good, as revealed through Jesus of Nazareth, within the public square. Wise engagement with various publics begins with intentional exegesis of one’s cultural context, develops through a deep commitment to the local congregation as “hermeneutic of the gospel,” and flourishes through partnerships focused on kingdom mission.3 This essay builds on previous work on the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers in order to explore how an emphasis on the witness of all baptized believers might contribute to a more robust understanding of public theology within the North American evangelical context.4

Historically the church has found models for an engaged public theology in figures such as Basil of Caesarea, Augustine, John of Damascus, John Calvin, John Wesley, Catherine Booth, Elizabeth Fry, William Wilberforce, and many others. Yet as Howard Thurman noted, just as Greek conceptions of citizenship excluded important voices, so the North American public (and ecclesial) square has often consciously or unconsciously excluded participation from women, Native Americans, African Americans, and others.5 This paper attends to this gap, and makes an argument in three movements: 1) it clarifies terms; 2) explores three public theologians as exemplars; and 3) suggests specific applications for ecclesial-minded public theologians.6

Clarifying the Terms of Engagement

Before discussing evangelical engagement in public theology, it is important to clarify terms. This task includes defining what is meant by “evangelicals,” differentiating public theology from both civil religion and political theology, and clarifying which groups are included or excluded by the term “public.” In this essay, my use of the term “evangelical” is best understood from within the context of the Lausanne Movement with its Covenant, Manifesto, and Confession.7 Thus, even though this essay is targeted at North American evangelicals, it is aware and accountable to the perspective of sisters and brothers from a wider context.

Max Stackhouse on Civil Religion, Political Theology, and Public 3Theology

In a number of works, Max Stackhouse clarified distinctions between civil religion, political theology, and public theology.8 Civil religion is “often a form of patriotic self-celebration.”9 It finds its intellectual roots in writers like Cicero, Eusebius, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and more recently Will Herberg.10 It tends to unconsciously place religion in service to nationalism, and can be symbolically illustrated by churches which fly the American flag above the Christian flag on the same flagpole. In contrast, Christian political theology explores the tensions often present in the practice of civil religion. It consciously reflects on the relationship between church and state, and seeks wise and faithful practices for believers under various types of governments.

The Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Anabaptist, Reformed, and Orthodox traditions have all developed frameworks for relating church and state with differing views of how a Christian can faithfully engage (or disengage) with the political process.11 While political theology tends to focus more narrowly on the corporate relations between church and state or the individual’s relation of faith to politics, public theology looks more broadly at the role individual Christians (think “vocation”) and the church (think “mission”) play in the world.12

The term was introduced to North American discourse relatively recently through the writings of Martin Marty. Marty’s historical reflection on figures like Jonathan Edwards, Abraham Lincoln, and Reinhold Niebuhr convinced him that “we have not given enough attention to the meaning of ‘public.’”13 According to Marty, public theology asks Christians “to care for the good ordering of people who are not saved and may never be.”14 It is concerned about more than the church’s relationship to the state, and looks at how the body of Christ bears witness to Christ in every public sphere. This witness includes, but is not limited to, the neighborhood, the marketplace, the arts and sciences, the university, the voluntary society, and the government. In short, public theology is concerned with Christian witness within every sphere of life, within the “community of communities.”15

Three Types of Ecclesial Public Theologians: PTCM, PTCL, PTCD

An additional question needs to be addressed before this essay moves to three evangelical exemplars: Who is the “public” in public theology? Many have used David Tracy’s identification of three publics—the society as a whole, the church, and the academy—as a road map for exploring the world of public theology.16 Tracy suggests a corresponding type of theology appropriate to each of these three publics. The theologian of the academy focuses on fundamental theology, the theologian in the church focuses on systematic theology, and the theologian to the broader society on practical theology.17 One challenge this model faces is what Kevin Vanhoozer called the “ecclesial amnesia of the academy.”18 Others have told the story of how theology lost its ecclesial way.19 Suffice to say that I am convinced by James K. A. Smith; “Christian scholarship must be ecclesial scholarship.”20 In this essay, I place an ecclesial lens on Tracy’s model to identify three types of public theologians within the church.

An ecclesial lens can clarify at least three points about an evangelical public theology. First, the vast majority of evangelical public theologians are engaged in practical theology as church members.21 The church’s first type of public theologian is thus the baptized church member, hereafter referred to as PTCM (Public Theologian as Church Member).22 The primacy of the PTCM explains why Stackhouse believes seminaries must prioritize equipping pastors who can equip their church members to be “lay public theologians.”23 The litmus test of a successful seminary is not simply whether it produces skilled public theologians, but rather whether its graduates are able to equip and inspire the members of the local congregation to engage their circles of influence, webs of relationships, and personal and professional networks with skill as public theologians.24

Recall that public theology deals with a community of communities. Don Davis uses the Greek term “oikos” to describe the diverse publics each church member uniquely engages.25 For example, imagine a congregational member named Alberto who participates in a neighborhood association, is active in local politics, participates in his county’s soccer club, serves on his daughter’s PTA, works as a medical professional at a local hospital, participates in a national professional development society, and is involved with a large and diverse extended family of tíos, tías, and primos. These seven webs of relationships represent Alberto’s “oikos publics”—the community of communities he is called to steward (Matthew 24:45) and for which he will one day give account (Matthew 25:31−46).26 Alberto will most often have opportunity to serve as a public theologian within these networks.

The second type of public theologian is a leader in a specific congregation, hereafter referred to as PTCL (Public Theologian as Congregational Leader). According to Vanhoozer, a congregational leader becomes a public theologian when he or she serves as their congregation’s “organic intellectual.”27 Vanhoozer borrows the concept of organic intellectual from Antonio Gramski (d. 1937), who is not thinking of an ivory tower “academic.” Rather, an organic intellectual possesses a familial type connection to the group for which they speak; they are “in active participation in practical life, as constructor, organizer, ‘permanent persuader,’ and not just a simple orator.”28 Vanhoozer’s appropriation of “organic intellectual” helps reinforce the importance of a congregational leader knowing the unique context and community they are called to serve.

The third and final type of ecclesial public theologian is the teacher or doctor. Within the Roman Catholic tradition, a “doctor” is an authoritative teacher who has proven to be a reliable guide for the church’s congregational leaders. Within Protestant evangelicalism, the public theologian as doctor, hereafter, PTCD (Public Theologian as Church Doctor) is one who equips congregational leaders to serve as public theologians. Their primary audiences are current and future church leaders, although they will occasionally address secondary audiences as needed. Examples of the PTCD would include seminary professors and ministry institute mentors. Table 1 lists the three types of ecclesial public theologian (PTCM, PTCL, and PTCD) with exemplars for comparison.

Table 1: Three Types of Ecclesial Public Theologians 29

Three Exemplars of the Evangelical Public Theologian as Church Doctor (PTCD)

Ideally, we could explore each of the three types of ecclesial public theologians identified in the previous section. Restraints of space and time restrict us to a brief identification and ad hoc sketch of a collection of principles related to theologians serving as doctors of the evangelical church (PTCD). As noted in the introduction, we focus on public theologians from three under-represented evangelical communities. Each theologian has responded to a particular call to invest in a particular community (an oikos public), serving as a model for the development of organic intellectuals within that community.

First, Rev. Dr. Don Davis’ commitment to equipping congregational leaders among the urban poor is examined. His fruitful work at The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) provides principles for engaging publics often ignored (the incarcerated, illiterate, and so on). Second, Rev. Dr. Robert Romero’s engagement with regional networks of churches is explored, especially his work with the “Brown Church.”30 Finally, Dr. Paige Cunningham’s work with The Center for Bioethics is probed as an example of preparing a priesthood for the world. Together, Davis, Romero, and Cunningham provide principles that can aid those in pursuit of a public theology for the common good.

Rev. Dr. Don Davis and The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI)

Rev. Dr. Don Davis joined World Impact, an evangelical church-planting mission, in 1975. Davis had grown up in inner-city Wichita (KS), and had not attended college prior to beginning full-time ministry on staff with World Impact. In 1986, Davis, his wife and three children moved to Wheaton, IL where in three years he completed a BA and an MA at Wheaton College summa cum laude. As a non-traditional student, and the only African American in Wheaton’s graduate school, Davis built strong friendships with members of Wheaton faculty including Mark Noll, Robert Webber, and Andrew Hill. In 1989 Davis began his PhD at the University of Iowa, and after completing coursework, he and his family returned to World Impact to found TUMI in 1995. Davis turned down a number of invitations to teach in academia, including an invitation to join Cornel West at Princeton.31 Davis’ focus on the global poor led to his rejection of participation in an academy which he believed largely ignored the needs of the poor.32 Over 20,000 congregational leaders who serve the poor have participated in formal theological education through TUMI over the past 25 years.33 Further discussion is not possible here, but at least two implications for public theologians (PTCD) are relevant.

First, public theologians must be clear on the particular public they are called to serve. Davis’ decision to serve the church of the global poor determined the type of organic intellectual he would become, and the locus of his energy and intellectual activities. Clarity on calling to a particular community leads the public theologian into a continual exercise of community and cultural exegesis. As cultural exegete, the public theologian is thus one who has ears to hear and eyes to see where the Spirit is at work in both a specific community and in that community’s world.

Second, the public theologian must serve as a community bard for his or her oikos public. Davis is known throughout the TUMI network as a champion of the “Most Amazing Story Ever Told.”34 Rowan Williams has described the biggest problem facing the church today as a “lack of the big picture” which is why “theological teachers must paint a landscape.”35 Davis has heavily invested in developing type-two public theologians (PTCL) for the church among the poor who know the story of God and can triangulate their congregation with God’s kingdom and the needs of their community.

Davis’ work with TUMI is illustrative of the opportunity type-three public theologians (PTCD) have to equip type-one and type-two public theologians through church-based methods. The extensive adaption of the Theological Education by Extension (TEE) model into the Church Based Seminary (CBS) model has equipped thousands of type-two public theologians (PTCL) with practical resources to equip tens of thousands of type-one public theologians (PTCM).36

Rev. Dr. Robert Romero, Jesus for Revolutionaries, and the Matthew 25 Network

Our second exemplar, Rev. Robert Romero, is a pastor, scholar, church planter, and evangelist. Like the vast majority of Latino ecclesial leaders in North America, he is bi-vocational.37 Romero self-identifies as an evangelical organic intellectual, and he has been a professor of Chicana/o Studies and Asian American Studies at UCLA since 2005 (Ph.D., UCLA, JD, Berkeley). He also leads a ministry called “Jesus for Revolutionaries” and is co-chair of the “Matthew 25 Movement.” Together these ministries are serving hundreds of churches connected or concerned with North American Latino/as. After recounting the story of one of his students, Rosa, whose mother was recently wrongfully arrested and held four days by US immigration even though she had legal status, simply because she was Latina, Romero notes, “a five-alarm fire is raging through the Latino community. Relatively few outside our community—and very few within the evangelical community—seem to care.”38

Romero’s work suggests at least two implications for type-three public theologians (PTCD). First, public theologians attend to the urgent issues in their community by asking questions and responding with resources from Scripture and the church’s great tradition. Wise public theologians, as organic intellectuals, speak to the heart of their community’s issues by listening well, articulating their community’s questions, and addressing them with biblical faithfulness and theological nuance. Romero speaks to a Latino audience in North America, many of whom would agree with Jose Flores’ statement that “for years I felt that social justice and a belief in God could not co-exist.”39 Romero’s public wants to know, “Is it possible for a Brown person to be a Christian?” At CCCU schools, Latino/a students often ask a similar question, “is it possible to be a Brown evangelical in North America?”40

A second implication from Romero’s example is the need for PTCD to seriously engage the church. Public theologians who are not also ecclesial theologians are in grave danger—danger to their own and others’ souls. Romero’s love and passion for Christ’s beloved community guide his research, writing, and community activism. The beauty of the gospel is best seen through the eyes of those who love the church, and Romero’s passion for the church is especially seen in the Matthew 25 Movement he co-leads. Since 2016, the Matthew 25 Movement has drawn over 200 churches from around the country together to serve immigrant communities traumatized by US immigration policy.41 Romero is deeply committed to the task of equipping public theologians for the church from the church who can speak to publics in desperate need of the hope, grace, and the shalom of the Kingdom.

Dr. Paige Cunningham and the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity

Our final exemplar, Dr. Paige Cunningham (PhD, TEDS, JD, Northwestern), is currently on leave from her role as Executive Director of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity at Trinity International University to serve as interim president at Taylor University. She previously served as President of Americans United for Life, published over fifty articles and essays, and edited six books on bioethics, public policy, and Christianity. Cunningham’s work is illustrative of two emphases vital for type-three public theologians (PTCD). First, in contrast to first-century Christians, mission in North America is often seen as the responsibility of a specialized caste within the church rather than the shared duty of the entire cast of God’s people (actors).42 Today, some church leaders continue to view the world through clergy-centric lenses, teaching an error we might call, “gospel clericalism.”43 In what may be his most important book, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society, Lesslie Newbigin describes six marks of a gospel-centered congregation. The fourth mark is “a community where men and women are prepared for and sustained in the exercise of the priesthood in the world.44 Church leaders are called to equip the saints to proclaim the gospel in the whole of life.

Newbigin saw the need for type-three public theologians to equip baptized members of the church to exercise their “priesthood in the world.” As a missionary bishop in India, one way he practically pursued this aim was by organizing conferences for professionals in various fields so that they could come together to discuss the unique opportunities and challenges the gospel encountered in their respective disciplines. In a 1952 article, he noted that he had helped organize five such conferences that year, including conferences specifically for Christian lawyers, for Christian engineers, and for Christians in business.45

Returning to Cunningham as a contemporary exemplar of public theology, we discover a similar emphasis. Next summer, the Center for Bioethics will hold its 27th conference for medical professionals, bioethicists, and church leaders on questions related to bioethics and Christian faithfulness. The center’s programs and publications model the equipping of a particular priesthood to serve and steward the common good within a particular oikos public (medical and health related fields).

Second, the center’s location within the wider community at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School reveals a strategic prioritization of the next generation of type-two public theologians (PTCL). Recognizing the significance of at least three distinct waves of bioethical questions facing the church (ending life, making life, faking life), the Center for Bioethics is preparing congregational leaders to serve as organic intellectuals within the congregations they will soon be leading.46 The Christian medical community desperately needs this intentional equipping from its type-two public theologians.47

So What? The Christian College as a School for Public Theologians 3

The priesthood of believers is foundational to all Protestant ecclesiologies.48 It provides warrant for a philosophy of education aimed at equipping public theologians who will represent Christ within their respective vocations with winsome words and thoughtful deeds (1 Pet. 2:9). This public theology of all believers is rooted in the believer’s baptismal ordination and an intentional choice to remain faithful to one’s baptismal vows within a particular vocation.49 It is a call for believers to recognize their call to be actors and agents in God’s kingdom work. Christian colleges and universities are uniquely situated to equip the next generation of Christian leaders in every field with a vision for baptismal faithfulness and vocational stewardship in their roles as representatives of Jesus Christ to particular public/s. James K. A. Smith is correct; we “cannot be content to produce thinkers;” we must “aim to produce agents.”50

The examples of Davis, Romero, and Cunningham suggest at least six principles to guide type-three public theologians. These can be summed up as: 1) Become clear on the particular public/s you are called to serve (Davis); 2) Always guard the big picture—the kingdom perspective on what God is doing in Christ through the Spirit in the world your community indwells (Davis); 3) Identify and address the pressing questions faced by your oikos public/s (Romero); 4) Love the local church or risk losing the beloved community (Romero); 5) Prepare a “priesthood to the world” to serve and steward particular oikos publics (Cunningham); and 6) Strategically invest in pastor-theologians (PTCL) as that investment will multiply through the members (PTCM) they serve (Cunningham).

In sum, the North American church needs public theologians like Don Davis, Robert Romero, and Paige Cunningham. Our communities have questions that need to be addressed by a range of disciplines, and we need to listen to these questions. Christians need to ask and address difficult questions related to faith and origins, Christ and culture, and the specific questions raised by their oikos public/s—questions like Romero’s, “Can a Brown person be an evangelical?” Three related questions requiring reflection at contemporary North American CCCU schools include: “Can a White person be saved?”51 “Are Black people human?52” and, “Do unborn children have human rights?53” Christian colleges are in a unique position to ask and address these types of questions. Dr. Jerry Root, Director of the Evangelism Initiative at Wheaton College, noted during more than 50 CCCU college campus visits that the CCCU network has an opportunity to equip some 1,000,000 Christian college students as winsome witnesses (read “public theologians”) during the next decade.54 It is my hope and prayer that we will embrace this challenge with the wisdom, creativity, and passion of a Davis, Romero, and Cunningham.

Cite this article
Hank Voss, “The Public Theology of all Baptized Believers: Wisdom from Don Davis, Robert Romero, and Paige Cunningham”, Christian Scholar’s Review, 49:4 , 387-398


  1. Cited from a 2009 Christianity Today interview by Ronald P. Hesselgrave, “Foreword,” in Social Justice: What Evangelicals Need to Know about the World, eds. William Moulder and Michael Cooper (N. P.: Timothy Center, 2011), x; Carl Henry’s prophetic witness on the need for evangelicals to address issues of social justice spanned his entire adult life, and began famously with the publication of The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1947).
  2. Kevin J. Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan, The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015); James K. A. Smith, Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017). On the importance of wisdom see especially Daniel J. Treier, “The Gift of Finitude: Wisdom from Ecclesiastes for a Theology of Education,” Christian Scholar’s Review 48.4 (2019): 371−390.
  3. For a discussion of the local congregation as a “hermeneutic of the gospel” see Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 222−233.
  4. Hank Voss, The Priesthood of All Believers and the Missio Dei: A Canonical, Catholic, and Contextual Perspective, Princeton Theological Monographs (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2016); Uche Anizor and Hank Voss, Representing Christ: A Vision for the Priesthood of All Believers (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016).
  5. Howard Thurman, The Search for the Common Good (New York: Harper and Row, 1971), xiii; Parker Palmer, The Company of Strangers: Christians and the Renewal of America’s Public Life (New York: Crossroad, 1981), 53.
  6. I especially have in mind theologians working at schools within the CCCU (Council for Christian Colleges and Universities) network, but I hope others will find it helpful as well.
  7. See Todd Ream, Jerry Pattengale, and Christopher J. Devers, eds., The State of the Evangelical Mind: Reflections on the Past, Prospects for the Future (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2018); Michael Hammond, “Christian Higher Education in the United States: The Crisis of Evangelical Identity,” Christian Higher Education 18.1–2 (2019): 3–15. For a proposal building on the Lausanne Covenant and suggesting that the core evangelical doctrinal pillars are a high commitment to Scripture and to mission, see Uche Anizor, Rob Price, and Hank Voss, Evangelical Theology, Doing Theology Series (London: T&T Clark, forthcoming, 2020).
  8. See Deirdre King Haninsworth and Scott R. Paeth, eds., Public Theology for a Global Society: Essays in Honor of Max L. Stackhouse (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010).
  9. Max Stackhouse, “Civil Religion, Political Theology and Public Theology: What’s the Difference,” Political Theology 5.3 (2004): 275.
  10. Ibid., 279–280.
  11. See Amy Black, Beyond Left and Right: Helping Christians Make Sense of American Politics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 139–155. Black does not discuss the Orthodox tradition. Given that Orthodox theology has largely developed in a post-Christendom context, there may be helpful resources in this direction.
  12. On the distinction between church and state vs. faith and politics see Ibid., 154.
  13. Martin Marty, “Forward,” in Parker Palmer, The Company of Strangers: Christians and the Renewal of America’s Public Life (New York: Crossroad, 1981), 14.
  14. Ibid., 13.
  15. Stackhouse, “Civil Religion, Political Theology and Public Theology,” 291.
  16. David Tracy, The Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and the Culture of Pluralism (New York: Crossroad, 1998), 3–31; Stackhouse, “Civil Religion, Political Theology and Public Theology,” 287.
  17. Alternatively, the typology of three publics identified by Walter Principe could have been used. While defining Christian spirituality he identifies three publics: 1) the community of lived practice; 2) the community of dynamics, by which he means those who teach about spiritual practices; and 3) the community of academics who systematically reflect on either spiritual experiences or the relevant teachings of the church. See Walter Principe, “Toward Defining Spirituality,” Studies in Religion 12.2 (1983): 127−141; and especially the discussion of Principe’s definition in Evan B. Howard, The Brazos Introduction to Christian Spirituality (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2008), 15−17.
  18. Vanhoozer and Strachan, The Pastor as Public Theologian, 6.
  19. For a narrative that includes a constructive proposal, see Perry L. Glanzer, Nathan F. Alleman, and Todd C. Ream, Restoring the Soul of the University: Unifying Christian Higher Education in a Fragmented Age (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2017).
  20. James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 230. As he notes elsewhere, this does not mean one supports bulldozing the physics labs to expand the chapel or build another prayer room.
  21. This is not a new claim; for example, “…all Christians are by their baptism devoted to God, and made professors of holiness…” William Law, The Works of the Reverend William Law, M.A. (New Forest, Hampshire: Privately Published for G. Moreton, 1893 [Orig. 1762]), 32.
  22. A high view of the agency of “lay” church members as public theologians is not unique to Protestants. For sample Roman Catholic and Orthodox perspectives see Yves Congar, Lay People in the Church: A Study for a Theology of Laity, trans. Donald Attwater, rev. ed. (Westminster, MD: Newman, 1967); Nicholas Afanasiev, The Church of the Holy Spirit, ed. Michael Plekon, trans. Vitaly Permiakov (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007).
  23. Vanhoozer and Strachan, The Pastor as Public Theologian, 19.
  24. For a related proposal, see Gordon Graham, “The Philosophy of the Seminary,” Princeton Seminary Bulletin 27.3 (2006): 185–192.
  25. Don L. Davis, Evangelism and Spiritual Warfare, vol. 8, Capstone Curriculum (Wichita, KS: The Urban Ministry Institute, 2005), 87–93, 156–158.
  26. Many North Americans tend to read the New Testament individualistically, interpreting oikos (household) as referring primarily to a “nuclear” family. Oikos, in the LXX and the New Testament, possesses a much more communal emphasis, including clan and tribe—what North Americans might refer to as “extended family.” First century usage could also include slaves, servants, and those in significant commercial relationships with a family. My use of “oikos publics” should be read in this broader, more communal sense. See Jürgen Goetzmann, “House,” in NIDNTT (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981) 2:247−253.
  27. Vanhoozer and Strachan, The Pastor as Public Theologian, 24.
  28. Antonio Gramski, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, eds. Quentin Hoare and Geoffrey Newman Smith (New York: International, 1971), 10.

  29. In some cases, a type one public theologian would find the church as a primary audience. This may be more the case for a Philip Yancey than a Marilynne Robinson.
  30. or an explanation and rationale behind the terminology “Brown” church, see the discussion in chapter one of Robert Romero’s The Brown Church: Five Centuries of Latina/o Social Justice, Theology, and Identity (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2020).
  31. A conversation between Davis and West is available at Don L. Davis, “An Interview with Cornel West,” Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies 12 (1993): 8−17.
  32. See further Terry Cornett, “Rev. Dr. Don L. Davis: A Theological Appreciation,” in Black and Human: Rediscovering King as a Resource for Black Theology and Ethics (Wichita, KS: TUMI Press, 2015), 289.
  33. Over 3,000 students were taking classes at TUMI satellites in July of 2019. See “TUMI Stats as of July 2019,” The TUMI Network (blog), n.d., (retrieved August 30, 2019).
  34. Don L. Davis, The Most Amazing Story Ever Told (Wichita, KS: The Urban Ministry Institute, 2011).
  35. Rowan Williams & Marilynne Robinson (2018 Wheaton College Theology Conference, 2018), (retrieved August 30, 2019).
  36. For further discussion of the Church Based Seminary (CBS) model of theological education, see Don Davis, Multiplying Laborers for the Urban Harvest: Shifting the Paradigm for Servant Leadership Education, 15th ed. (Wichita, KS: TUMI Press, 2013).
  37. See further Hank Voss, “Latin American Theology,” in Encyclopedia of Christianity in the Global South, eds. Mark A. Lamport and George Thomas Kurian (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018).
  38. Robert Romero, “Immigration and the Latino/a Community,” in Still Evangelical? Insiders Reconsider Political, Social, and Theological Meaning, ed. Mark Labberton (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2018), 66.
  39. Robert Chao Romero, Jesus for Revolutionaries: An Introduction to Race, Social Justice, and Christianity (Los Angeles: Christian Ethnic Studies, 2013), 1.
  40. See Romero’s The Brown Church: Five Centuries of Latina/o Social Justice, Theology, and Identity (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2020).
  41. “Matthew 25/ Mateo 25 of Southern California (Del Sur de California),” accessed September 1, 2019,
  42. Voss, The Priesthood of All Believers and the Missio Dei, 8, 31, 37, 48−50.
  43. For an explanation of what I mean by “gospel clericalism” see, Hank Voss, “The Holy Spirit, the Missio Dei, and the Mission of Every Believer in a North American Context” (Paper presented at the Evangelical Theological Society, November 14, 2018).
  44. Newbigin, Gospel in a Pluralistic Society, 229; emphasis added.
  45. Lesslie Newbigin, “The Christian Layman in the World and in the Church,” National Christian Council Review 72 (1952): 189.
  46. Paige Comstock Cunningham, “Learning from Our Mistakes: The Pro-Life Cause and the New Bioethics,” in Human Dignity in the Biotech Century, eds. Charles Colson and Nigel M. de S. Cameron (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004), 137.
  47. See John F. Kilner, Why the Church Needs Bioethics: A Guide to Wise Engagement with Life’s Challenges (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011); Paige Comstock Cunningham and Michael J. Sleasman, “Exploitation in the Global Medical Enterprise: Bioethics and Social Injustice,” in Social Injustice: What Evangelicals Need to Know about the World, eds. William Moulder and Michael Cooper (N.P.: Timothy Center, 2011), 91–117.
  48. Hans Martin Barth writes, “Evangelische Kirche ist Kirche des allgemeinen Priestertums —oder sie ist nicht.” (Einander Priester Sein: Allgemeines Priestertum in Ökumenischer Perspektive, KKVK [Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1990], 103).
  49. See especially Peter Leithart, The Priesthood of the Plebs: A Theology of Baptism (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2003); Voss, The Priesthood of All Believers and the Missio Dei.
  50. James K. A. Smith, Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 12.
  51. See Willie Jennings, et al., Can “White” People Be Saved?: Triangulating Race, Theology, and Mission, ed. Love L. Sechrest (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2018).
  52. Stephen Charnock (d. 1680) used “practical atheist” to describe those who cognitively believe in God but live otherwise (The Existence and Attributes of God [Grand Rapids: Baker, Reprint, 1996] 89−175). Perhaps we now need to recognize “practical racists”—those who cognitively reject racism but consciously or unconsciously embrace racist practices. The difficulty many White evangelicals have had with understanding the Black Lives Matter movement is rooted in a failure to recognize that Americanism has denied the full humanity of African Americans for centuries. See Don Davis, Black and Human: Rediscovering King as a Resource for Black Theology and Ethics, [Orig. 2000] (Wichita, KS: TUMI Press, 2015). At a more popular level, see Wayne Gordan and John Perkins, Do All Lives Matter? (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2017).
  53. Lesslie Newbigin’s final question to the ecumenical community at the WCC World Conference in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil is worth repeating here, “When we stood in the old slave market on Saturday morning on those rough stones which had felt the bare and bruised and shackled feet of countless of our fellow human beings, when we stood in that place so heavy with human sin and suffering and we were asked to spend two minutes in silence waiting for what the Spirit might say to us, I thought first how unbelievable that Christians could have connived in that inhuman trade; and then there came to my mind the question: Will it not be the case that perhaps our great-grandchildren will be equally astonished at the way in which our generation, in our so-called modern Western, rich, developed culture, connive at the wholesale slaughter of unborn children in the name of that central idol of our culture—freedom of choice? I know…that to raise it is exceedingly painful, as painful as was the struggle against the slave trade, as painful as was the World Council’s program to combat racism” (Signs Amid the Rubble: The Purposes of God in Human History, ed. Geoffrey Wainwright [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003], 118).
  54. The Evangelism Initiative seeks to “deploy 100,000 CCCU students a year—1,000,000 in 10 years—making Christ known wherever they go.” Jerry Root, “Evangelism Initiative,” Billy Graham Center, (Retrieved October 1, 2019).

Hank Voss

Taylor University
Hank Voss is assistant professor of Christian Ministry at Taylor University. He has authored, co-authored, or edited twelve books including The Priesthood of All Believers and the Missio Dei (2016), the forthcoming Introduction to Evangelical Theology (T&T Clark, 2021) and the T&T Clark Reader in Global Evangelical Theology (2022). He serves as Senior National Staff with The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI), and he directs the Lilly funded Sacred Roots Thriving in Ministry Project for which he is currently editing Aelred of Rievaulx’s (d. 1167) classic, Spiritual Friendship.