Towards a Christian Ontology of political authority: The relationship between created order and providence in Oliver O’Donovan’s theology of political authority

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This article argues that the formally similar conceptions of political authority provided in Oliver O’Donovan’s Resurrection and Moral Order and The Desire of the Nations appear to assume different ontologies of political authority. The former account conceives political authority as a special use of natural authorities found in the created order, where ‘authority’ is defined as what it is that evokes free and intelligible human action. The latter account, however, appears to attribute the existence of political authority exclusively to divine providence. I contend that these two accounts of political authority are ostensibly in tension. I also argue that O’Donovan’s subsequent ‘providentialist’ account of political authority is unable to explain how political authority can evoke free and intelligible action in political communities. I maintain that O’Donovan can remove this apparent tension by returning the essence of political authority to creation, as he did in Resurrection and Moral Order, and then regard the Christ-event as redeeming political authority rather than merely restricting its historical function to judgment, as he argues in The Desire of the Nations. The emergence of O’Donovan’s ‘Christian liberalism’ could then be regarded as the ‘work of divine providence in history’ facilitated by the redemption of the natural authorities in the created order.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)307–325
Number of pages19
JournalStudies in Christian Ethics
Volume32
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 06 May 2018

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Towards a Christian Ontology of political authority: The relationship between created order and providence in Oliver O’Donovan’s theology of political authority'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this