God and the Common Good debate

by Stephen Schneider
Grace Memorial Episcopal Church
Portland, Oregon

I am now reading a powerful book by Yale professor Miroslav Volf with the inviting title, A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good. This term, “the Common Good,” is finding its way into the vocabulary of many of us. It becomes a way of talking in language that unites those of many different persuasions and traditions into a sense of shared purpose.

Walter Brueggemann wrote not long ago: “The great crisis among us is the crisis of ‘the common good,’ the sense of community solidarity that binds all in a common destiny–haves and have-nots, the rich and the poor. We face a crisis about the common good because there are powerful forces at work among us to resist the common good, to violate community solidarity, and to deny a common destiny. Mature people, at their best, are people who are committed to the common good that reaches beyond private interest, transcends sectarian commitments, and offers human solidarity.” (Journey to the Common Good)

We either work together for the good of all or we find ourselves on a course of narrow self-interest that cannot be sustained. People who are followers in “The Way of Jesus” are called to be among the world’s “uncommon people” committed to the “common good.”

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