Paul J. GriffithsMarch 6, 2006 - 12:42pm0 comments
The Ways of Judgment
by Oliver O'Donovan
This book, by the (Anglican) Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Oxford, is the sequel to and completion of The Desire of the Nations (1996). Taken together, these books provide a theologically substantial and thoroughly Christian analysis of the political order. They are written with the conviction that the political order cannot be understood without theology and that theology requires and entails an account of the political order. In the power and subtlety with which this double conviction is presented and argued, they can stand comparison with Augustine’s City of God, to which O’Donovan often appeals.
Since the seventeenth century, political theory has seemed to most who engage in it, Christians and others, to be an independent subject whose assumptions and conclusions may be brought into conversation with theology but are not themselves theological. One result of this has been that most political theology written in the last four centuries has adjusted its theology to convictions about the political order arrived at on nontheological grounds. This is why we in the United States are subject to the endlessly unedifying spectacle of apologists for one or another point on the political spectrum quarrying the Christian tradition for materials that will support their particular political convictions and calling the result political theology. The work of a Jim Wallis or a George Weigel is too often...