Making Space for Politics: the Gift of Public Theology in the Work of John Webster

In: International Journal of Public Theology


The theologian John Webster (d. 2016) is sometimes criticized for having little to say about politics. This article seeks to demonstrate how Webster furnishes a set of conceptual resources that provide the theological and anthropological bases for a Christian public theology, as well as the rationale for the sort of moral reasoning that will give involvement in politics its appropriate shape and content. Webster understands humanity theologically, as creatures of God. The consequence of this position means we must appreciate the (protological and eschatological) givenness of our situation, rejecting the possibility of secular space, and accepting our teleologically-oriented vocation. Webster’s theological anthropology constitutes an indirect challenge, and a clear—and ultimately more compelling—alternative to the political liberalism proposed by John Rawls.