Publications by Author: Thiemann, Ronald


Arguing that the Christian doctrine of revelation is necessary for understanding the prevenience of God's grace, Ronald Thiemann defends the doctrine of revelation by focusing on the identity and reality of the promising God depicted in the biblical narrative.

According to Thiemann, "The crisis of revelation has occurred within a cultural context decisively marked by radical pluralism. The modern defender of God's reality must seek to show how God is, both in relation and prior to those human concepts by which we seek to grasp his reality. He or she must do so by an argument which resists the reduction of theology to anthropology."

In analysis of such diverse thinkers as John Locke, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Thomas Torrance, Thiemann criticizes the epistemological foundationalism adopted by theologians to provide theoretical justification for the divine origins of Christian beliefs. He argues that the doctrine of revelation must be seen as an account supporting the intelligibility and truth of a set of Christian convictions. His notion of the "narrated promise" reveals God's prevenience as promiser and humanity as recipient of the promise. In an examination of the Gospel of Matthew, Thiemann shows how the biblical narrative identifies God as the God of promise and invites the reader to participate in God's prevenient reality.

Who will provide for America’s children, elderly, and working families? Not since the 1930s has our nation faced such fundamental choices over how to care for all its citizens. Now, amid economic prosperity, Americans are asking what government, business, and nonprofit organizations can and can’t do—and what they should and shouldn’t be asked to do. As both political parties look to faith-based organizations to meet material and spiritual needs, the center of this historic debate is the changing role of religion. These essays combine a fresh perspective and detailed analysis on these pressing issues. They emerge from a three-year Harvard Seminar sponsored by the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life that brought together scholars in public policy, government, religion, sociology, law, education, and nonprofit leadership. By putting the present moment in broad historical perspective, these essays offer rich insights into the resources of faith-based organizations, while cautioning against viewing their expanded role as an alternative to the government’s responsibility. In Who Will Provide? community leaders, organizational managers, public officials, and scholars will find careful analysis drawing on a number of fields to aid their work of devising better partnerships of social provision locally and nationally. It was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 2001.
Thiemann, Ronald. 1996. Religion in Public Life: A Dilemma for Democracy. Georgetown University Press. Publisher's Version Abstract

Prayer in public schools, abortion, gay and lesbian rights—these bitterly divisive issues dominate American politics today, revealing deep disagreements over basic moral values. In a highly readable account that draws on legal arguments, political theory, and philosophy, Ronald F. Thiemann explores the proper role of religious convictions in American public life. He proposes that religion can and should play an active, positive part in our society even as it maintains a fundamental commitment to pluralist, democratic values.

Arguing that both increased secularism and growing religious diversity since the 1960s have fragmented commonly held values, Thiemann observes that there has been an historical ambivalence in American attitudes towards religion in public life. He proposes abandoning the idea of an absolute wall between church and state and all the conceptual framework built around that concept in interpreting the first amendment. He returns instead to James Madison's views and the Constitutional principles of liberty, equality, and toleration. Refuting both political liberalism (as too secular) and communitarianism (as failing to meet the challenge of pluralism), Thiemann offers a new definition of liberalism that gives religions a voice in the public sphere as long as they heed the Constitutional principles of liberty, equality, and toleration or mutual respect.

The American republic, Thiemann notes, is a constantly evolving experiment in constructing a pluralistic society from its many particular communities. Religion can act as a positive force in its moral renewal, by helping to shape common cultural values.

All those interested in finding solutions to today's divisive political discord, in finding ways to disagree civilly in a democracy, and in exploring the extent to which religious convictions should shape the development of public policies will find that this book offers an important new direction for religion and the nation.