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While the Charlie Hebdo attacks unleashed a highly distinctive national debate within France, that debate also serves to throw into sharp relief the deepening tensions generated by increasingly complex relationships between the state and religion across much of Europe, not least due to the arrival of immigrant minority faiths wishing to advance claims in what is widely assumed to be ‘secular’ public space. After reviewing these tensions, the article distinguishes five current European responses to them and proposes a model of ‘principled pluralism’ as a theologically defensible option. The original theological roots of such a model are outlined and six indicative contemporary practical implications proposed.

In: International Journal of Public Theology

Abstract

Archbishop Rowan Williams' lecture on ‘Civil and Religious Law in England’ in February 2008 provoked passionate critical responses, not only in Britain but around the world. While acknowledging ambiguities in the text of the lecture, this article seeks to clarify its central claims and to address some of the misrepresentations to which it was subjected. It defends the lecture as a constructive and profound theological contribution to the ongoing discussion about the proper scope and manner of the legal accommodation of religious minorities within liberal democratic states. It then probes further into the wider question raised by the lecture concerning the dilemma of the plural identities and loyalties of religious citizens in such states. The Archbishop's subtle critique of ‘unqualified secular legal monopoly’ can be heard to contain a timely warning against political hubris.

In: International Journal of Public Theology

'Public justice’ is one of the most widely-invoked of the many distinctive terms coined by Herman Dooyeweerd but, strangely, one of the least well analysed. Dooyeewerd holds that that the identity of the state is defined by a single, integrating and directing norm, the establishment of ‘public justice’. Elaborating the implications of this claim has occupied much neo-Calvinist political reflection and guided much political action inspired by that movement. Yet surprisingly little sustained theoretical reflection has been devoted in recent times to examining its inner meaning and coherence. This article offers some preliminary groundwork necessary to that theoretical project. The first part presents a close reading of Dooyeweerd’s account of public justice, identifies ambiguities and inconsistencies in that account, and suggests a reconstruction displaying its wide-ranging dynamic thrust more prominently. The second part identifies two substantial challenges confronting this account: its relative neglect of processes of democratic deliberation and advocacy, and its underdeveloped critical potentials.

In: Philosophia Reformata
In: Philosophia Reformata

This essay presents a brief overview of selected insights deriving from reformational social and political philosophy, especially that of Herman Dooyeweerd, relevant to the study of international relations. Three clusters of potentially fruitful reformational concepts are identified. These relate to, first, the nature of the discipline of International Relations; second, the “structural purpose” of the state and other political entities; third, the plural, non-state actors of global civil society. It is proposed that distinctively reformational insights can offer illuminating orientations towards, or at least pose valuable research questions confronting, the development of a Christianly-informed ir theory today.

In: Philosophia Reformata

The notion of societal structural principles is the foundation stone of Dooyeweerd’s social philosophy, and of the political and legal philosophy grounded in it, yet it has so far received little detailed critical analysis or constructive reformulation among reformational scholars. The aim of this paper is the modest one of illustrating the kind of analysis still to be done if the notion is to be put to more constructive use within social theory. I shall say little about the epistemological or methodological implications of the notion, concentrating on its central ontological problematics. I shall do so by discussing the notion with special reference to its specific application to one particular societal structure, namely the state. Part I analyses Dooyeweerd’s general account of the notion of societal structural principles. I identify there a number of critical problems running through the paper, especially: a) the problem of how structural principles secure the internal unity of a societal structure; b) the distinction between the invariant character of societal structural principles, and the variable forms in which they are positivised; and c) the undeveloped link between societal structures and the structure of the human person. Part II illustrates these problems (especially the second) in relation to Dooyeweerd’s account of the structural principle of the state. Part III briefly sketches the direction of a possible reformulation of the notion of societal structural principles in the light of a more fully elaborated philosophical anthropology.

In: Philosophia Reformata

Abstract

This essay presents a brief overview of selected insights deriving from reformational social and political philosophy, especially that of Herman Dooyeweerd, relevant to the study of international relations. Three clusters of potentially fruitful reformational concepts are identified. These relate to, first, the nature of the discipline of International Relations; second, the “structural purpose” of the state and other political entities; third, the plural, non-state actors of global civil society. It is proposed that distinctively reformational insights can offer illuminating orientations towards, or at least pose valuable research questions confronting, the development of a Christianly-informed IR theory today.

In: Christian Faith, Philosophy & International Relations
In: The Law of God