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558 BOOK REVIEWS completion c;if this work represents. I trust that the best tribute to the inquiry he so evidently valued is a straightforward assessment of his text. Hendrix College Conway, Arkansas JOHN CHURCHILL Theology and Politics. By DUNCAN B. FORRESTER. Signposts in The· ology Series. New York: Basil Blackwell, 1982. Pp. 182. $39.95 (cloth); $14.95 (paper). Theology and Politics offers two things: a map of the" perennial possibilities " (p. 20) open to Christian political theology and a sym.· pathetic introduction to liberation theology. In the first case, the map obscures as often as it guides; in the second, readers are led down an already well-trodden path. In chapters 1-2, Duncan B. Forrester (professor of Christian ethics and practical theology at New College, University of Edinburgh) de· scribes a "spectrum " of three Christian political theologies established in Graeco-Roman times and traces their recurrence down to the present . One political theology is represented by Tertullian, who claimed " there is nothing more alien " to Christians " than politics " and thus dissuaded them from taking direct " responsibility for power " (p. 20) • Instead, they should challenge political society by witnessing to an " alternative way of ordering life" (p. 21). During the Reformation, this approach resurfaced in the Anabaptist movement. At the other end of the spectrum is Eusebianism, a political theology advocating church-state complementarity. Its author, Eusebius of Caesarea , was an " apologist for imperial rule and the propagator of a Christian civil religion " during the Constantinian era. He saw " the earthly role of the emperor as a reflection of, and a kind of participation in, the kingly omnipotence of God himself" (p. 23) . This approach predominated in medieval Christendom and recurred, in varying guises, during the Reformation. Luther advanced Eusebianism by default in his emphasis on individual justification by faith and the "two kingdoms " theory, wherein states are viewed as instruments of God's "left hand." His " depoliticizing" of Christian faith encouraged political passivity and uncritical obedience to state authority (p. 32). Calvinism advanced Eusebianism from the opposite direction. Its "theocratic emphases " absorbed the state into the church, blurring the "degree of autonomy" necessary for the political order (p. 34). BOOK REVIEWS 559 " Somewhere around the centre" is Augustine's political theology. On one hand, Augustine felt-against Tertullian-that the church had a "responsibility to defend peace and justice." On the other hand, he taught-against Eusebius-" that the Roman empire was, and always had been, corrupt." Thus, Augustine " affirms the theological significance of the political order " but " refuses to accord more than a heavily qualified endorsement to any temporal political order whatever " (pp. 24-25). This is the view Forrester endorses and under which he begins his discussion of liberation theology. Forrester offers a routine treatment of liberation theology in chapters 3-6. In its deliberate " engagement " with the poor, liberation theology criticizes the comparatively abstract political theology of Metz and Moltmann (p. 60). In its conviction that the poor "have privileged access to the teaching of the Bible," liberation theology suggests that the social context of Western biblical scholars skews their scriptural interpreta· tion (p. 96). By highlighting the radicalism of the historical Jesus, liberation theology challenges the "Domesticated Christ" of North American Christianity (p. 120) . By viewing the church as a base community of the "poor, powerless, and oppressed," liberation theology exposes how the institutional church is " deeply implicated in capitalist society" (p. 136). In the last chapter, Forrester summarizes the relationship between theology and politics by linking his three political theologies with those discussed in the 1985 South African Kairos Document. In this way, the "state theology" identified by the Kairos theologians (racist ideology of the South African government) is Eusehianism, "church theology" (reformist ideology of the mainline churches) is Tertullianism, and "prophetic theology" (radical ideology of liberation theology) is Augustinianism. But two things are wrong here. The reformist struggle of mainline churches against apartheid-however feeble-is not identical to the Tertullian-Anabaptist approach as Forrester earlier defined it. The former challenges the state through public discourse; the latter witnesses to the state through a counter-cultural lifestyle. Second, insufficient evidence is given for the claim that contemporary prophetic theology reflects the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 558-560
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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