The justice of god and the formation of society
This theological study is a contribution to the search for a conception of justice which will form a just society. Its aim is to discover whether two leading modem secular theories of justice might be mediations of the justice of God, which I take to be a principle in Creation and the basis for the formation of society. My interdisciplinary approach advocates and employs critical theory to expose the pathologies of modernity, particularly domination (or the arbitrary use of power) as a major cause of injustice, and thus an impediment to the formation of a just society. This approach is undergirded by an Incarnational and Trinitarian theology which, through the use of a socio-political hermeneutic, transcends the biblical categories from which it origtuates. It recognises that the justice of God, understood throughout this thesis as right relationship or true sociality, is mediated through human agency and action which accord with God's nature and will. The theories of John Rawls and Jurgen Habermas which I choose to examine understand justice in terms of normative legitimacy, achieved through a publicly discursive and justificatory procedure, leading to a rational consensus about the social norms which form and direct society. My study assesses how far each mediates God’s justice in forming society. It concludes that Habermas's theory has a stronger claim in this regard owing to its greater degree of consonance with the communicative nature of that justice, and to a recognition that the reality underlying Habermas's theory of justice as communicative action is God's justice, mediated in the linguistic structure of Habermas's procedure. In conclusion, I propose that the Church, in adopting this communicative understanding of justice, commit itself to the building and defence of a vibrant public sphere, in which justice is discursively determined; and in which all members of society, especially the disadvantaged for whom God is concerned, participate deliberatively in the formation of the society God justly wills.