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Title: Charles Davis's critical theology and Stanley Hauerwas's ecclesial ethics : discourse and character and the Church's political action
Author: Francis, James
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1999
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This thesis seeks to explore the possibilities of endorsing the church's authentic political presence and action in the public sphere. Against the background of modernity, characterised as the age of critical reason, the exploration will focus on the programmatic theological responses to this background offered by Charles Davis's critical theology and Stanley Hauerwas's ecclesial ethics. For Davis's critical theology, authentic politics is a process of communication among fully individual subjects in freedom. For Hauerwas's ecclesial ethnics, authentic politics demands that the church should not have a social ethic, rather its task is to be a social ethic. These theological responses to the contemporary social and cultural context broadly represent an appeal to critical reason, in critical theology, as opposed to an appeal to tradition, in ecclesial ethics. While the former position runs the risk of surrendering the distinctive voice and action of the church to the desert, the latter risks trapping the church in a sectarian ghetto. To this extent, critical theology and ecclesial ethics represent two theological sides of the so-called liberal-communitarian debate to be found in secular moral philosophical discourse. As such, Davis and Hauerwas have philosophical antecedents in Jürgen Habermas's discourse ethics and Alasdair MacIntyre's virtue or communitarian ethics. The thesis will argue, further, that to understand fully the implications of critical theology and ecclesial ethics for the political presence and activity of the church, they must be compared and contrasted. Firstly, this is because for discourse based critical theology like Davis's to be at all credible it must be able to meet the kind of challenges posed by MacIntyre and Hauerwas. Likewise, a 'communitarian' theology, such as Hauerwas's, must be able to answer the challenges of a dialogically reformulated, universalist, ethical theory of the sort envisioned by Habermas and Davis. Secondly, in exploring these challenges, with respect to Davis and Hauerwas, it will become clear that their respective positions actually generate compatible visions of integrity in the church's ministry and mission.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available