Politics and the Order of Love: An Augustinian Ethic of Democratic Citizenship

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9780226307527: Politics and the Order of Love: An Augustinian Ethic of Democratic Citizenship

Augustine—for all of his influence on Western culture and politics—was hardly a liberal. Drawing from theology, feminist theory, and political philosophy, Eric Gregory offers here a liberal ethics of citizenship, one less susceptible to anti-liberal critics because it is informed by the Augustinian tradition. The result is a book that expands Augustinian imaginations for liberalism and liberal imaginations for Augustinianism. 
Gregory examines a broad range of Augustine’s texts and their reception in different disciplines and identifies two classical themes which have analogues in secular political theory: love—and related notions of care, solidarity, and sympathy—and sin—as well as related notions of cruelty, evil, and narrow self-interest. From an Augustinian point of view, Gregory argues, love and sin constrain each other in ways that yield a distinctive vision of the limits and possibilities of politics.
In providing a constructive argument for Christian participation in liberal democratic societies, Gregory advances efforts to revive a political theology in which love’s relation to justice is prominent.  Politics and the Order of Love will provoke new conversations for those interested in Christian ethics, moral psychology, and the role of religion in a liberal society.

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About the Author:

Eric Gregory is professor of religion at Princeton University.


"A joy to read . . . a return to an Augustine that Augustine himself would have recognized." (Jason Byassee Christian Century)

"This is a phenomenal piece of scholarship. . . . Gregory respects no disciplinary boundaries and draws deeply from a number of different wells. Understanding the giants of Christian thought requires no less. Also, his reading of Augustine is astute and promisingly embedded in larger theological themes. Let Gregory's work be a model for how to read great Christian thinkers on various topics, including politics and social theory." (Geoffrey C. Bowden History of Political Thought)

"This challenging and erudite book has much to offer both to those concerned with the relationship of Christianity to liberal democracy and those seeking to understand the Christian imperatives to love God and neighbor." (Christopher R. Helton Interpretation)

". . . . Gregory offers an energizing contribution that is richly theological, philosophical, and sensitive to concrete reality by the very terms of his argument." (Political Theology)

". . . . in the ranks of the most important studies in contemporary Augustinian political theology." (Modern Theology)

". . . . if non-religious political theorists have one chance to hear an Augustinian voice, it should be Eric Gregory’s. This is a major contribution to contemporary discussions in religion and politics...anyone interested in Christian theology’s engagement with public life ought to read it." (Books & Culture)

"Liberals of all stripes, and even non-liberals, need to read this book." (Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews)

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