Jesus Christ, the good community and the common good

Miriam Bruning

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The revelation and experience of reconciliation with God in Jesus Christ leads people to form communities that seek, demonstrate and support the common good.
Christian communities are adversely influenced by a noticeable absence of the concepts of and practices for the common good in contemporary Western society. A combination of the concepts of contest among individuals and the priority of the nation-state in modern Western society has competed with the concept of the common good. A theological elaboration of the common good arising from the person and work of Jesus Christ revealed in human history can support Christian communities confronted with alternative concepts of human society.
In this thesis, the method of canonical narrative theology is used to step through an account of God’s self-disclosure in Jesus Christ and commences by specifically drawing on Karl Barth’s account of divine self-revelation. The coherent Christian narrative generates people’s understanding of their community and encourages specific behaviour internally and towards wider society. In a context of plural ideas, independent Christian thinking arising from this narrative can contribute a perspective of the common good.
The treatment of revelation as an intention for divine-human relationships, most profoundly present in reconciliation in Jesus Christ leads to communities that are concerned with and practice support for the common good. Reconciliation through Christ demonstrates and transforms people’s relationality to be generous, creatively surprising, conciliatory and faithful. Reconciled relationships with God and each other enable communities that extend beyond mere reciprocation to an overflow of benefits to other people regardless. The Spirit calls and equips and sanctifies such communities for mutual virtuous edification in the context of their scriptural narrative. The good relationships of these Christian communities are extended in beneficial interaction throughout society. Such communities recognise that their concept of the common good benefits from their engagement with the wisdom of dissimilar communities and that their practices for the common good are extended in their experiences with those with the most damaged relationships.
These theological outcomes are illustrated by comparison with a case study of Anglican churches in three dioceses. The common good has a low profile in the Anglican Church in Australia that results in unclear identification of the concept and associated practices. There is indication of a very longstanding but unspoken tradition that there will be Christian community effort for everyone’s good.
The divine intention to engage with humankind, revealed in Jesus Christ, is fulfilled in reconciliation of people with God. Jesus Christ leads people in relationships and community that support the common good. The common good in such communities supports each person’s good in ways that competitive individualism cannot. The collaboration of all good communities honourably contributes to the common good across society, and to a far greater extent than government regulation alone. This theological account provides a contemporary foundation for Christian communities to deliberate upon, to fully articulate and to support their traditions for the common good.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Cameron, Andrew, Principal Supervisor
  • Willsher, David, Principal Supervisor
  • Broughton, Geoffrey, Principal Supervisor
Award date31 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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