“Radical Orthodoxy” (RO) is a theological movement often associated with British Anglican theologians John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock, and Graham Ward—though as a theological “sensibility” its impact and representatives are much wider. Characterized by a trenchant critique of modernity, including liberalism and secularism, RO is properly understood as an ecclesial political theology that draws on Augustinian wells. This course will offer an introduction of RO’s political theology in order to engage one of its most trenchant critics. In Democracy and Tradition, Jeffrey Stout criticizes RO as a “new traditionalism” that he associates with Alasdair MacIntyre and Stanley Hauerwas. For Stout, this new traditionalism, because of its “ecclesio-centrism,” effectively encourages Christians to withdraw from the public sphere and abandon the common good. We will carefully consider Stout’s important critique and then consider a “Radically Orthodox” response, drawing on a re-reading of Augustine’s City of God in a contemporary context.
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