Salvation in a social context : the impact of Hegelian social theory on modern understanding of soteriology, with particular reference to the Phenomenology of Spirit
The study is an exercise in interdisciplinary practice. It concerns the relationship between theology and socio-philosophy and considers the type of dialogical theory that is required in order to articulate the meaning of salvation socially. The intention is mediate a theological understanding of salvation through issues raised by Hegel in The Phenomenology of Spirit and which continue as matters of concern to his interpreters. The study is divided into three main /arts, Identity, Alienation and Community. Each part reP1.sents interrelated areas of human experience which bear upon Christian and nonChristian social theory. The Introduction and Part 1 outline difficulties on the side of faith in articulating an idea of God's salvation for the contemporary needs and goals of society. I paint in broad brush strokes the shape of the contention over how to speak about salvation in a social context, in particular, the dualism between talking of 'the social' either terms of the functions of collected individuals or as a single entity. Part 2 introduces critical interpretations of Hegel and his treatment of various social forms of alienation. Relevant contributions from contemporary non-Christian social theorists, Jurgen Habermas, in particular, are summarized and discussed. 1 In Part 3 I consider what is inadequate in Hegel's own superseding of the Christian understanding of community and ask: -What kind of thought is able to sublate Hegel's own inadequate notion of community?- Using analogical reasoning, I suggest that it is possible for theology both to learn from Hegel and his interpreters, and to criticize them. I look at some implications for Christian social theory today.