Secret Faith in the Public Square

Secret Faith in the Public Square : An Argument for the Concealment of Christian Identity

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In this groundbreaking and provocative book, Jonathan Malesic argues that the best way for Christians to be caretakers of their tradition and to love their neighbors selflessly is to conceal their religious identity in American public life. The alternative--insisting on Christianity's public visibility in politics, the marketplace, and the workplace--risks severely compromising the distinctiveness of Christian identity. Delving deep into the Christian tradition, Malesic explains that keeping Christian identity secret means living fully in the world while maintaining Christian language, prayer, and liturgy in reserve. He shows how major thinkers--Cyril of Jerusalem, Soren Kierkegaard, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer--sought to protect Christian identity from being compromised by the public sphere. He then shows that Christians' dual responsibilities for the tradition and for the neighbor must be kept secret.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 152.4 x 226.06 x 17.78mm | 272.15g
  • Baker Publishing Group
  • Brazos Press, Div of Baker Publishing Group
  • Ada, MI, United States
  • English
  • 1587432269
  • 9781587432262
  • 1,404,264

Back cover copy

"Against all the arguments that religious conviction should be manifest in public life, Jonathan Malesic offers perhaps the most theologically profound, fruitful, and rigorous challenge: the real truth of Christianity cannot be worn like a flag pin on a politician's lapel. It occurs in secret and in silence. True subjectivity of faith precludes its manifestation in public life, and all attempts to display it in such a way only profane it and further pervert the church as a community of 'secret disciples.' This genuinely fresh, freethinking book displays the independence of mind and life for which it argues. Lucidly written and crisply argued, it is a significant contribution to discussions in the field, and will be a wonderful counterpoint to the dominant narrative in classes about religion and public life."--Charles Mathewes, University of Virginia; editor, "Journal of the American Academy of Religion ""Malesic's thesis is striking and provocative: we should conceal our faith in order to protect it from being absorbed and prostituted in our voracious secular culture. Readers may not be persuaded, but by the end of the book they will find themselves richly rewarded with many fresh insights into the possibilities for Christian witness in our strange, postmodern era. A truly fresh contribution to the important debate about faith, politics, and culture."--R. R. Reno, Creighton University "Jonathan Malesic calls Christians in America to conceal their identities in public life as a form of therapy that unhinges Christian witness from its accommodation to public expectation and reward. By credibly challenging the assumption that Christian identity is only authentic if it is publicly visible and explicit, Malesic has transformed the conversation about the relationship of the church to the world at the beginning of the twenty-first century. This book should be read and discussed widely."--Bryan Stone, Boston University School of Theologyshow more

About Jonathan Malesic

Jonathan Malesic (PhD, University of Virginia) is assistant professor of theology at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He has written several essays for the "Chronicle of Higher Education."show more

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7 ratings
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