Political Theology has acquired a range of meanings today, originating from but not restricted to a European academic context.
From a political perspective, Political Theology is associated with an anti-liberal view of politics that criticises liberal democracy by using certain autocratic elements preserved in monotheistic religion that confer ‘sacred’ power on rulers. It argues, following Carl Schmitt, that a corrupted liberalism has eroded the religious or metaphysical basis of society. Moreover, because such a basis is necessary, liberal society thereby imperils itself and so requires a ‘return’ to its religious or metaphysical origins.
From a theological perspective, Political Theology is distinguished by the effort to relate in an explicit fashion discourses about God to the organization of bodies—natural, social and imagined—in time and space. Operating across and between Christian traditions and denominations, various approaches can be identified: (1) the autonomy of theology from politics; (2) liberation, feminist, queer and postcolonial theologies; and (3) a concern for the ‘politics’ embedded in doctrines, scriptural narratives and religious practices. This Political Theology often seeks to strengthen the moral values underpinning the liberal, democratic culture of our contemporary society and transform these values towards a more inclusive justice.
Most recently, these various meanings have interacted in ways that have produced new enquiries. The critical assessment of liberal democracy has been conducted from the standpoint of the ‘politics’ intrinsic to Christianity. The particularism of the nation state has been criticised from the perspective of Christianity’s universalism. The bodies with which Political Theology engages has been extended to include the non-human.
Moreover, a comparative Political Theology is just beginning in which the religious plurality of modern societies, and its consequences for public discourses and spaces, is being evaluated.
Through their research projects, publications and teaching, LTI and CRPC offer unparalleled opportunities for study and advanced research in Political Theology: to clarify and develop its meanings and pursue novel and pioneering lines of enquiry.