Christianity and Liberal Society

Christianity and Liberal Society

Christianity and Liberal Society

Christianity and Liberal Society

Synopsis

Liberalism forms the dominant political ideology of the modern world. Despite its pervasive influence, this is the first book-length treatment of liberal political thought from a Christian theological perspective. Song discusses the different approaches to the subject of three twentieth-century theologians--Reinhold Niebuhr, George Grant, and Jacques Maritain--and draws out the implications for current political thought.

Excerpt

Ever since Karl Barth's inversion of nineteenth-century cultural Protestantism in the early decades of this century, the predominant attitude of Christian theology towards its surrounding culture has been one of critical distance rather than uncritical legitimation. Barth showed how Protestant theology had been fettered by its allegiance to the demands of its intellectual and cultural environment, and in doing so freed it to be faithful to its proper object of study, the self-revelation of God in Jesus Christ. the same task of vitalizing theology and ensuring its authenticity in the face of its cultured despisers (whether they be inside or outside the Church) confronts all theologians, at the end of the twentieth century as much as at its beginning. in systematic theology this entails a twofold responsibility: both the dethroning of idolatrous and dehumanizing modes of thought, and the unfolding of the meaning of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Likewise in Christian social thought, the search for an adequate political theology comprises both the negative undertaking of a critical analysis of political ideologies and practices and the positive task of constructing a theology of political society in the light of Jesus Christ.

Liberalism has been the dominant political ideology of modernity. If one of the primary negative responsibilities of theology in relation to the prevailing intellectual culture has been the criticism of modernity, however that is to be understood, one of the primary negative responsibilities of political theology must be the critical evaluation of liberalism. If it is true that the ascendant classes in Western societies have not seen the reality of modernity because they have seen reality with modern eyes, it is as true that they do not see the reality of liberalism because they view political reality with liberal eyes. Liberalism, especially in the form 'liberal democracy', articulates the dominant form of public self-understanding in Western societies on the North Atlantic model, and the ostensible assent granted to many of its values by those who speak for non-liberal societies suggests the degree of cogency which liberal . . .

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