James K.A. Smith interview with Joan Lockwood O’Donovan in which she explains that the church’s public proclamation reminds society of the law—and grace—that transcends the state
I want to distinguish between two broad types of American exceptionalism, one with Judeo-Christian roots, and the other with its roots in the Enlightenment. There is of course much mixing of the two types, but they represent two quite distinct ways of approaching the question of exceptionalism. The first explicitly appeals to Christian theological concepts such as the election of Israel and God’s providence. The second appeals to Enlightenment concepts concerning the universal applicability of the American value of freedom…. My basic argument is that when a direct, unmediated relationship is posited between America and a transcendent reality – either God or freedom – there is a danger that the state will be divinized.
In Christian social ethics the assumption is often made, with a minimum of examination, that the responsibility for promoting and protecting the common good falls to the state. In this essay I want to examine that assumption. All too often Christian social ethics begins from ahistorical and idealized assumptions about the state as protector and benefactor.
This thesis argues that the state is neither sacred nor profane, but if accepted as mundane, it is something that can be freely engaged with by the church as part of its overall witness to politics and society. In order to outline and assess the political theology of Milbank and Cavanaugh three biblical and doctrinal lenses – creation, preservation and redemption – are used to judge their work.
My purpose in this essay will be to focus on the way revulsion to killing in the name of religion is used to legitimize the transfer of ultimate loyalty to the modern State. Specifically I will examine how the so-called “Wars of Religion” of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe are evoked as the founding moment of modern liberalism by theorists such as John
Rawls, Judith Shklar, and Jeffrey Stout.
How might a Christian envision the way the world ought to be and how humans ought to live in community. I guess if you take the biblical story, which I do with my very beginning students, and you look at the biblical story as a whole, it can be told as the story of primordial unity and then scattering and gathering again, salvation as a kind of gathering again into a harmony amongst humans and between humans and God. And so the way the story of the Fall in Genesis is told it encapsulates the whole thing: that there is this Creation that begins good and then through sin kind of falls apart and so on and then we are to be gathered back together.