This is the first book to discern and spell out the fascinating coalescence of churches in America today. Drawing on mainline Protestantism, the newer evangelicalism, and Roman Catholicism, this new community, or "community of communities," may be called a "public church" because it is particularly sensitive to the public order and to the interplay of its members as citizens and church people. In a world of increasing interreligious tensions and in an America growing weary of pluralism and freedom, the public church both fills a void and counters trends at home and abroad.
Grounded in an historical understanding of the Christian churches in America, The Public Church draws on biblical, theological, and political motifs to offer a model for self-understanding and mission in the years ahead. It discusses the nature of the public church, its relation to the individual traditions from which it springs, its continuing reliance on the local congregation, its relation to the New Christian Right, and the political balance between left and right that must be maintained if the public church is to grow even more effective as a religious force and as a humane venture. In short, the book is an analysis of American Christianity in its newest and most exciting phase.