Religions, a peer-reviewed, open access journal of theology, invites scholars to submit papers for its special issue, “Political Theology and Pluralism.”
Issue 16.1 of the journal Political Theology is devoted to theology, plurality and society. Below guest editor, Dr. Peter Scott, introduces the issue.
Must a religiously plural society fall apart? How does theology process plurality? This special issue of Political Theology addresses the issue of plurality from a variety of theological perspectives. It began life as an attempt to respond to an earlier special issue of the journal, which assessed critically the political and theological phenomenon of Red Toryism. In the earlier volume, there was persistent criticism of an appeal to a common tradition in the context of a religiously plural society.
The stark repetition of the admonition to being of one mind in the first and last phrases is particularly arresting, and particularly challenging for us today. After all, for contemporary liberalism, being of one mind is no virtue, and the same could be said for most contemporary Christians. We no longer think of pluralism as simply a pragmatic political strategy for negotiating irresolvable difference, but as a good in itself. It is difference, we say, that makes us strong, tolerance and indeed embrace of otherness.
Re-thinking the intersection of law and religion today tends to proceed from a concern for the limits of religious freedom and a critique of the foundational historical, social, and cultural presumptions about religion that are seen to undercut or frustrate the possibility of advancing religious freedom.
With conservative and evangelical ethicists falling dramatically off the anti-gay-marriage bandwagon at a remarkable pace, superstar theologian David Bentley Hart’s essay “Is, Ought, and Nature’s Laws” last month in First Things came like a spark on a dry pile of tinder. Challenging the optimism of many contemporary Catholic thinkers (and recently many evangelical thinkers as well) that natural law arguments can provide a convincing, broadly-appealing basis for opposition to gay marriage legislation, Hart provoked a tide of responses and counter-responses in the blogosphere, which continues even now. For at stake in Hart’s remarks were not merely how conservatives should and shouldn’t engage in gay marriage debates, but the nature of the public square and of natural law itself, the foundation upon which so much Christian political theory has been built over the centuries.
Rather than attempting to weigh in with yet another contribution to the wide-ranging debate, I will merely seek to provide here something of an annotated catalogue of the more significant blasts and counter-blasts