The Ways of Judgment: The Bampton Lectures, 2003

The Ways of Judgment: The Bampton Lectures, 2003

The Ways of Judgment: The Bampton Lectures, 2003

The Ways of Judgment: The Bampton Lectures, 2003

Synopsis

The series of 16 lectures, delivered at St. Mary's Church in Oxford, fulfills a promise O'Donovan (moral and pastoral theology, U. of Oxford) made at the end of The Desire of the Nation to look at Christian political ethics starting from political rather than theological questions. They consider the political act: judgment, political institutions:

Excerpt

In a work entitled The Desire of the Nations, published a decade ago, I outlined what I called a “political theology,” the purpose of which was to show how the political concepts wrapped up in Jewish and Christian speech about God’s redemption of the world still had political force, generating expectations for political life that found one type of expression, though not the only possible one, in the political ideals of “Christendom,” the European civilization that bridged the gap from late antiquity to early modernity, from which our modern political ideals have sprung. At the end of that book I anticipated a sequel, a “Christian political ethics,” the agenda of which would be set by political rather than by theological questions.

This present essay, based on the Bampton Lectures delivered in 2003 in St. Mary’s Church, Oxford, attempts to fulfill that hesitant promise. Yet like so many intellectual promises, made with a high mountain view of the terrain and then worked out on the valley floor, this one has changed shape in the keeping. I am more cautious now about the pseudo-disciplinary designations, “political theology” and “political ethics.” They correspond in a rough way, it is true, to the two ways of ordering the discussion, theological questions uppermost in the one, political questions in the other. But the suggested contrast of theory and practice, “theology” and “ethics,” is misleading. The mysterious relation between the reflective and the deliberative operations of moral

1. The Desire of the Nations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

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