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CHTH233 Public Theology: Faith in the Public Square

A critical study of the nature of Christian theology as public discourse: aims and methods, challenges and possibilities.

What does it mean to talk of doing theology 'in public'? How can theology contribute to current issues?

Paper title Public Theology: Faith in the Public Square
Paper code CHTH233
Subject Christian Thought and History
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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36 100-level points
CHTH 333, CHTH 413, CHTX 333, CHTX 413
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Theology
May not be credited together with CHTX 313 or CHTX 411 passed in 2009.
Students are welcome to study papers in Theology regardless of whether they have a particular faith commitment or not. Papers in Theology examine the scriptures, history, content, and relevance of the Christian faith, but presuppose no Christian commitment from students. All that is required is an inquiring mind and an interest in those skills that can be gained through the study of any subject in the Humanities.

Professor David Tombs -

Teaching staff
Lecturer: Professor David Tombs
Paper Structure


  • What is Public Theology?
  • Public Theology and Scripture
  • Public Theology and the Church
  • Principles of Theological Engagement in the Public Square
  • Making Theology Engage: Globalisation and the Global Economic Crisis
  • Going Global, Going 'Glocal'
  • Theology and #MeToo


  • Two essays (2,000 words) 30% each
  • Essay (2,500 words) 40%
Teaching Arrangements

Campus: One 2-hour lecture each week.

Distance: One 1-hour introductory lecture, and four 2-hour videoconferences throughout the semester.


Textbooks are not required for this paper. Readings will be provided electronically.

Course outline
View the course outline for CHTH 233 (distance)
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will be able to

  • Describe what scholars mean by 'public theology' and show how it draws upon the central tenets of the Christian faith
  • Construct an argument to show that theology has an inherently 'public' dimension
  • Develop skills in showing the relevance of Scripture and Christian tradition to matters of contemporary public concern
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the relation between the church and public theology

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system