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Bonds of Imperfection: Christian Politics, Past and Present [Paperback]

By Oliver O'Donovan (Author), Joan Lockwood O'Donovan (Author) & O'Donovan (Author)
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Item description for Bonds of Imperfection: Christian Politics, Past and Present by Oliver O'Donovan, Joan Lockwood O'Donovan & O'Donovan...

Overview
Two of today's leading experts on the Christian political tradition plumb significant moments in premodern Christian political thought, using them in original and adventurous ways to clarify, criticize, and redirect contemporary political perspectives and discussions. Drawing on the Bible and the Western history of ideas, Oliver and Joan Lockwood O'Donovan explore key Christian voices on "the political" political action, political institutions, and political society. Covered here are Bonaventure, Thomas, Ockham, Wycliff, Erasmus, Luther, Grotius, Barth, Ramsey, and key modern papal encyclicals. The authors' discussion takes them across a wide range of political concerns, from economics and personal freedom to liberal democracy and the nature of statehood. Ultimately, these insightful essays point to political judgment as the strength of the past theological tradition and its eclipse as the weakness of present political thought.

Publishers Description
Two of today's leading experts on the Christian political tradition plumb significant moments in premodern Christian political thought, using them in original and adventurous ways to clarify, criticize, and redirect contemporary political perspectives and discussions. Drawing on the Bible and the Western history of ideas, Oliver and Joan Lockwood O'Donovan explore key Christian voices on "the political" - political action, political institutions, and political society. Covered here are Bonaventure, Thomas, Ockham, Wycliff, Erasmus, Luther, Grotius, Barth, Ramsey, and key modern papal encyclicals. The authors' discussion takes them across a wide range of political concerns, from economics and personal freedom to liberal democracy and the nature of statehood. Ultimately, these insightful essays point to political judgment as the strength of the past theological tradition and its eclipse as the weakness of present political thought.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Bonds of Imperfection: Christian Politics, Past and Present by Oliver O'Donovan, Joan Lockwood O'Donovan & O'Donovan has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Choice - 09/01/2004 page 121
  • Christian Century - 05/17/2005 page 23


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Item Specifications...


Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   344
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.22" Width: 6.26" Height: 0.89"
Weight:   1.06 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 21, 2004
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Edition  New  
ISBN  080284975X  
ISBN13  9780802849755  


Availability  112 units.
Availability accurate as of Mar 28, 2017 08:20.
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More About Oliver O'Donovan, Joan Lockwood O'Donovan & O'Donovan


Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Oliver O'Donovanis a fellow of the British Academy and professor emeritus of Christian ethics and practical theology at the University of Edinburgh. His other books includeThe Desire of the Nations, The Ways of Judgment, andResurrection and Moral Order."

Oliver O'Donovan has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Oxford Oxford University University of Oxford University.

Oliver O'Donovan has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Bampton Lectures
  2. Current Issues in Theology


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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Political
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > History & Theory
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality


Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General



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Reviews - What do customers think about Bonds of Imperfection: Christian Politics, Past and Present?

Politics under the Shadow cast by the Cross  Feb 29, 2008
Ethicists Oliver O'Donovan (OO) and Joan Lockwood O'Donovan (JO) have given us the result of a lifetime of mature, balanced ethical reflection with regard to political action. As a result, the book is a combination of Scriptural, historical, and ethical interplay. The book's strength is its depth--and this is sorely needed for many conservative, American readers who are tempted to reduce politics to a few systems. Its weakness is when the depth of the book turns into the density of the book. Some chapters are simply laborious and the practical value, while no doubt there, is not obvious.

The first section of the book presents us with an interesting reading of the Book of Revelation: The Apocalypse of St. John is the first Christian document of political theology. It tells what happens to both church and state when Christ's kingdom clashes with the kingdoms of this world. Many devotees of eschatology will take issue with his hermeneutics: some odd blend of idealism and preterism, but the theology in the essay is quite good.

Next is what I think is the most important essay of the book: The Political Thought of City of God 19. For too long St. Augustine has been used as a defense of Christian non-action in the political sphere. The argument goes like this: Augustine said there are two cities: The City of God (obviously the church) and the City of Man (everything else, but usually the State). Since we are in the City of God, we can't apply the values of that City across to the other City.
Thankfully, OO blows this thesis out of the water. To understand Augustine's view of politics, we must first understand how Augustine defined community (19.4): a rational group of people united by the common objects of their love. Thus, there is no such thing as a value-neutral community. Secondly, there cannot be true, real love unless that love is united to the love of God--this secular communities cannot do. This brings new implications to the debate over whether a Christian state is legitimate. The real question, given the above, is a non-Christian state even legitimate? If we are going to be truly and eschatologically Augustinian, we must answer no.

Several essays by JO reevaluate property rights in light of the new Christian community. While giving some reserved criticisms of 21st century capitalism, the essays do not advocate socialism. I really didn't find this part of the book to be either strong or clear.

JO then begins her several chapter critique on "democracy." At best democracy is naïve. At worst, viciously self-eating. The alternative to democracy, JO will argue, is the rich heritage of Christian proto-modern thought. A ruler must be aware of the spiritual ends of the state. The state is not eternal and cannot play God. Therefore, while the ruler must be concerned for the welfare of the people, he cannot solve every social ill, real or imagined (putting a new spin on current policies: The War on Drugs, the war on terror, the war on poverty, the war on war). Rather, he must make his position to where the church can preach the Gospel and further the kingdom of God.

In "Government as Judgment" OO runs a critique on both democracies and human rights. The former critically unstable by definition, the latter is vague and usually only protects whatever the latest tyrant elected by democracy wants to protect. He then critiques contractarian accounts of government.

JO has a fascinating essay on the decline of Roman Catholic political authority in the Modern Age. This brings her to a discussion of "natural law." She makes several important distinctions often forgotten (or ignored) by Reformed theologians, both Klinean and theonomic. It hinges on what makes a "just society." The older Augustian view is that human society is inherently disjunctive and destructive (thus the corollary that a true, lasting society is a Christian society). St Thomas, however, viewed sinful society has retaining the necessary structured ends. Modern liberal-democratic society, from which modern Roman Catholicism adheres to (in deviation from Sts Augustine and Thomas) denies that society has any structured ends or functions.

Conclusion
There is much this review leaves out, given the limitations of space. The O'Donovans force us to re-evaluate our entire lives within the shadow cast by the cross.
 

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