This book assesses the German liberal theological tradition in the early years of the twentieth century, concentrating in particular on the work of Ernst Troeltsch. It locates theology in its social and political context, and seeks to understand the period on its own terms and not through the distorting lens of the First World War.
This volume explores how Catholicism began and continues to open its doors to the wider world and to other confessions in embracing ecumenism, thanks to the vision and legacy of the Second Vatican Council. It explores such themes as the twentieth century context preceding the council; parallels between Vatican II and previous councils; its distinctively pastoral character; the legacy of the council in relation to issues such as church-world dynamics, as well as to ethics, social justice, economic activity. Several chapters (...) discuss the role of women in the church before, during, and since the council. Others discern inculturation in relation to Vatican II. The book also contains a wide and original range of ecumenical considerations of the council, including by and in relation to Free Church, Reformed, Orthodox, and Anglican perspectives. Finally, it considers the Council’s ongoing promise and remaining challenges with regard to ecumenical issues, including a groundbreaking essay on the future of ecumenical dialogue by Cardinal Walter Kasper. (shrink)
This article discusses Ronald Preston's understanding of William Temple and the relationships between the two thinkers. It shows how both develop a theology of Christian realism which places great emphasis on the autonomy of the social sciences and the importance of economic expertise. Questions are raised about the appropriateness of this method, as well as their understanding of the state as an order of creation: these can easily lead to the reduction of the sphere of political morality and its substitution (...) with a form of technical rationality. After a brief discussion of the cult of the expert and the manager in contemporary British politics, and the limitation of political action through the rhetoric of ‘there is no alternative', the article concludes by calling for a remoralisation of political life against an economic reductionism which threatens to remove ethics from politics altogether. (shrink)
Ever since the publication of MacIntyre's After Virtue, the ‘Enlightenment Project’, where morality was uprooted from its traditional context and where human reason reigned supreme, has been regarded as doomed to failure. This view has been shared by a large number of theologians, but it is based on a misrepresentation of the Enlightenment, one strand of which sought to set limits to human reason. In particular, Immanuel Kant, who is discussed in detail, believed in the principle of perpetual criticism, a (...) method which refused to see human reason as supreme, but which also criticised all other systems of absolute authority. A trust in criticism was part and parcel of ‘growing‐up’: the educational process was thus of crucial importance as children gradually learnt to think for themselves. For Kant, this method was rooted in a theological position, where transcendence or ‘holiness’ functioned as a constant reminder of human finitude, and served to prevent all forms of idolatry. The article concludes with an outline of a theology suitable for grown‐ups, more aware of ideology and power than was Kant, where all truth is seen as relative to an absolute truth, but one which can never be known in full. Such a position, which is seen as profoundly Christological, encourages tolerance and openness, but makes a stand against those who claim a certainty or an authority they can never possess. The church is seen as that body which lives away from human certainties in a life of hope. (shrink)
This paper discusses theological responses in the Church of England to the South African War as reflected in sermons by theologians and church leaders and the limited amount of theological writing on the subject during the period. Three points emerge: first is the strong sense in which the mission was to civilise and Christianize. The fact that the war was being fought against a white enemy led to a characterisation of the Boer as uncivilised and primitive. Secondly, the British Empire (...) was not understood simply as a means of promoting the British interest across the world. Instead it was regarded as at least potentially a Christian Empire which embodied higher universal values. The emphasis was on humility and judgement, whereby moral absolutes were relativised by the vision of a more universal goal. This undoubtedly helped lessen the strength of some of the imperialist rhetoric. Finally, the higher values of self-sacrifice created a sense of moral seriousness: the universal values displayed in love for the community were prioritized over those of a narrow patriotism or individualism. Like the early days of the First World War, the Boer War functioned as an “antidote to anomie”. All in all, the strong dose of Platonism injected into Anglicanism in the nineteenth century meant that it functioned as a modest check on unfettered jingoism. A limited degree of prophetic critique – albeit deeply ambiguous, compromised and sometimes racist – remained the dominant theological discourse of Anglicanism, even at the highest point of imperialism. (shrink)
This article discusses the relationship of history, theology and mythmaking with reference to the myths of Glastonbury. These related to the legends associated with Joseph of Arimathea’ purported visit to England, the burial place of King Arthur, as well as the quest for the Holy Grail. It draws on the work of Joseph Armitage Robinson, one of the most important Biblical and patristic scholars of his generation who, after becoming Dean of Westminster and later Dean of Wells Cathedral in Somerset, (...) and close to Glastonbury, became a distinguished medievalist. After assessing the development of the Glastonbury legends and the use of early British history made in the earlier Anglican tradition, particularly in the work of Archbishop Matthew Parker, it goes on to discuss their revival in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries especially under the local parish priest Lionel Smithett Lewis. It concludes by showing that while there might be no historical substance in the myths, that there is nevertheless an important history to devotion and piety which is as equally open to theological and historical investigation as the events of history. (shrink)