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Recent Political “Theologies”

I recently picked up a new anthology dealing with contemporary political theologies.  Hend de Vries and Lawrence E. Sullivan’s new book Political Theologies: Public Religions in a Post-Secular World, is a massive collection of essays on various themes in modern political thought and the relationship between religion and politics.

 The only real beef I have with the book (admitting, of course that I haven’t read the whole 796 pages of it yet) is that it really shouldn’t bear the title “Political Theologies”.  Out of more than thirty contributing authors, the only one of them who really has a solid claim to be a theologian is Pope Benedict XIV!  All the others are professors of political science, philosophy, humanities, or public officials.  Now, I’m not saying that this lack of actual theological voices in this volume makes it unhelpful or uninteresting, but it patently does make it far less about the theological than the title would suggest.  The same is the case for the recent book Theology and the Political: The New Debate in which only a couple essays really had any substantial theological thing to say.

I find it interesting that political “theologies” are in vouge of late and that passioantely non-Christian and indeed, totally non-religous philosophers and political theorists are attracted to them intellectually.  I am only left to wonder if a truly theological political theology would be as attractive to the ingelligensia as the theological vacuous “political theologies” that are currently so fashionably interesting.  A truly theological political theology would, of necessity be a political theology that has the cross of Christ at the center thereof.  The tortured and murdered Christ as the definition of the Christian God has always been less of an intellectual fascination than an object of scorn among the intellecutal elites of all ages.  I can’t help thinking that a truly theological political theology would be likewise marginalized and forced “outside the camp” of the intellectual elites of our time.


  1. vassilip wrote:

    dear friend, have a look on G.Agamben’s ‘The Time That Remains. A Commentary on the Letter to the Romans’ (Stanford University Press). though Agamben is not a theologian i find his understanding of St. Paul’s ecclesiology extremely sensitive. (of course behind that is his roots in W.Benjamin work.)

    all the best

    Sunday, August 12, 2007 at 1:20 am | Permalink
  2. danny wrote:

    Political theology is actually a discipline or focus of inquiry in political science and intellectual history. It goes back before Schmitt, but is usally associated with his numerous claims that liberalism is based on vacuous theological concepts. So political theology from this vantage point involves a debate over the relationship between modern politics and its theological heritage (see Schmitt, Lowith, Blumenberg), and this debate has been raging for generations in Germany.

    Monday, September 3, 2007 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

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