Christianity, Politics, and the Predicament of Evil: A ConstructiveTheological Ethic of Soulcraft and Statecraft translation missing: zh.hyrax.visibility.files_restricted.text

Burroughs, Bradley Burton (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/0v838097f?locale=zh
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Abstract

Particularly in the United States, the tectonic forces exerted by two contrasting yet highly influential conceptions of politics have decisively shaped the field of Christian political ethics. The first of these conceptions, exemplified in the work of Reinhold Niebuhr, construes politics as primarily an exercise in statecraft that seeks to leverage the power of government to secure the greatest possible order and justice for society as a whole. In contrast, a second conception, most prominently articulated by Stanley Hauerwas, maintains that politics properly so called concerns itself with the cultivation of virtue; consequently, it finds not the "well-ordered state" but the church to be the exemplar of politics. Fundamentally at odds over the meaning, ends, and institutional settings of politics, these two conceptions have created a defining divide in the field.

This project seeks to illuminate this divide and to redevelop the conceptual space between politics-as-statecraft and politics-as-soulcraft by reconceiving politics within a theological framework that understands neither the well-ordered state nor the faithful church but the eschatological City of God to be the paradigm of politics. At the same time, it forthrightly argues that the Christian faith demands that we realistically recognize that, in its present state of existence, the world is ensnared in what I call "the predicament of evil." Characterized by the corruption of individual wills and social structures, this predicament precludes human beings from building the City of God in this world. Analyzing, criticizing, and drawing resources from both Niebuhr and Hauerwas, as well as looking beyond to Martin Luther King, Jr., Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and others, this dissertation seeks to specify the respective roles of soulcraft and statecraft in a theological ethic of politics that is capable of guiding Christians as they witness to God's eschatological intention to establish the City of God in a world that is currently mired in the predicament of evil.

Table of Contents

Introduction .............................................................................................................1

PART I - SURVEYING

Chapter 1: The City of God ......................................................................................21

I. The Need for a Political Eschatology .......................................................................23

II. The Defining Features of the City of God ................................................................29

Chapter 2: The Predicament of Evil ............................................................................64

I. Defining "The Predicament of Evil" ..........................................................................66

II. Plotting the Predicament of Evil .............................................................................70

III. Pilgrims and Migrants Amid the Predicament .........................................................120

PART II - GATHERING RESOURCES

Chapter 3: Politics-as-Statecraft: Reinhold Niebuhr and the Governing of Society .............131

I. The State and the Location of Politics ......................................................................134

II. The Aims of Politics: Love and Justice .....................................................................142

III. The Strengths of Politics-as-Statecraft ...................................................................152

IV. The Weaknesses of Politics-as-Statecraft ................................................................163

Chapter 4: Politics-as-Soulcraft: Stanley Hauerwas and the Church as Polis .....................192

I. Defining "A Different Kind of Politics" .......................................................................194

II. The Church and the Cultivation of Virtue .................................................................201

III. Commending the Community of Character .............................................................210

IV. Questioning the Community of Character ...............................................................227

V. Statecraft and the Witness of the Church ................................................................248

PART III - CONSTRUCTING

Chapter 5: Soulcraft, Statecraft, and Christian Discipleship ...........................................264

I. The Modern State as a Historical Creation ................................................................269

II. Relating Soulcraft and Statecraft ...........................................................................283

III. The Christian as Citizens .....................................................................................297

Conclusion ..............................................................................................................332

Bibliography ............................................................................................................342

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