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Announcement – Political Theology 18.5 Is Now Online

Political Theology, Volume 18, Issue 5, August 2017 is now available electronically at Taylor & Francis Online.

This new issue contains the following articles:

Establishment Radical: Assessing the Legacy of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Reflections on the End of an Era

Jeremy Luis Sabella
Pages: 377-398 | DOI: 10.1179/1462317X15Z.000000000176


This article argues that Reinhold Niebuhr’s most politically radical work, Reflections at the End of an Era (1934) is more determinative of his subsequent political theology than Niebuhr scholarship has acknowledged. In particular, the doctrine of grace and view of history that Niebuhr here developed continued to shape his mature thought, infusing his work with a politically unsettling quality that Niebuhr scholarship routinely overlooks in favor of depicting him as the “establishment theologian.” This article maintains that reclaiming the legacy of Reflections will enable future reception of Niebuhr to recover the radical dimension to his thought.


Christological Foundations for Political Participation: Women in the Global South Building Agency as Risen Being

Léocadie Wabo Lushombo http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4127-6874
Pages: 399-422 | DOI: 10.1080/1462317X.2016.1195592


This paper draws upon the theologies of Jon Sobrino and Engelbert Mveng to construct a social ethics of participation for those who have been marginalized by corrupt political and economic institutions, focusing on the agency of women in Sub-Sahara Africa. In light of the philosophy of political participation in developing countries, I examine Sobrino’s insights that the victims of the evil of this world have to live as risen beings, I consider the African Theologian Engelbert Mveng’s concept of anthropological pauperization, and argue that it makes a difference to consider historical events that influence the contexts in which we view the victims. I also argue that both Sobrino and Mveng provide foundations for political participation of the victims, but there is a need to reinforce the agency of the victims, and their own ability to come down from the cross and live as risen beings. Such agency suggests the need for reinforcing the political participation of the victims. Finally, I supplement Mveng’s thoughts with the cultural features of the African philosophy of Ubuntu — related to African Humanism — to show that Ubuntu, as well as Mveng, reinforce Sobrino’s claims.


Liberated from the Liberator: Frederick Douglass and Garrisonian Political Theology

Daniel A. Morris
Pages: 423-440 | DOI: 10.1080/1462317X.2016.1195593


I argue that Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison held very different political theologies, even while they seemed to work productively together from 1841 to 1847. Examining Douglass’s self-presentation on both sides of his split with Garrison, I conclude that he stifled his Christian moral vision in order to comply with Garrisonian theological ideals while working in New England. After moving to Rochester, New York, Douglass was free to give full voice to his authentic Christian political vision. I explore their differing approaches to the Bible’s authority, theological anthropology, and the moral permissibility of force, which influenced their political responses to slavery. Scholars such as John Stauffer and John Sekora have argued that his departure facilitated esthetic and racial forms of emancipation for Douglass; I argue that leaving Garrison allowed Douglass to express not only his authentic literary and black identities, but his true Christian identity as well.


Berlinian Pluralism and Abrahamic Monotheism

James Orr
Pages: 441-457 | DOI: 10.1080/1462317X.2016.1195594


This article examines the longstanding suspicion that value-pluralism is intrinsically incompatible with monotheistic commitment, an objection that threatens to undermine the resurgence of pluralist ideas in different denominational strands of contemporary Christian political theology. Since value-pluralism is often taken to be closely wedded to the logic of political liberalism, the charge of incompatibility carries a special force. For, taken together, the two claims imply that monotheistic commitment sits uneasily alongside political liberalism. Having set out the version of value-pluralism expounded in the thought of its most influential contemporary advocate, the article raises three objections to the doctrine. It then examines ways to refine it before concluding that there is no reason to suppose that, so refined, it is intrinsically incompatible with monotheistic commitment.

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