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Politics and Theological Identity — D. Nicholls & R. Williams

April 4, 2015

A small book from the Jubilee Group. Rowan Williams argues the gospel is about liberation from bondage. The nature of bondage changes in every age so it is not necessary to say that previous generations have been ‘wrong’ in they’ve not had the same insights as us. Jesus challenged specific ‘demons’ so C2Oth Christians have to discern specific cases and work within them, not apply some general, grand theological scheme to a checklist of political aims. The incarnation means that we apply two sets of knowledge — theology and social sciences &c. These remain in tension and we have to discern our praxis. Anglican social theology has been of two kinds: (i) incarnational — nature and grace are likely to merge and Christians seek to infiltrate structures and reconcile opposition and there may be a tendency towards theocracy. This is taken up by Nicholls. Gradual change is envisaged and one might join what was the S.D.P. (in order that God may put down the mighty from their seat in such a way that they hardly feel the bumps). This approach doesn’t take into account the inherent evil in structures which needs (ii) the redemption approach. This takes evil into account and calls for more radical change. Catholics realise they belong to a larger church and must draw on the insights of 3rd world theologians. The respect for tradition should save them from too relative a thought—pattern. The sacraments symbolise the potential for transformation. The catholic emphasis on God’s transcendence should save them from Erastianism.

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