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Title: A theology of disagreement
Author: Landau, Christopher
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 0330
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Even the most casual contemporary observer of Christianity must recognise that the notion of Christian community being identifiable through the mutual love of its members (John 13:35) is difficult to reconcile with the schismatic reality of current ecclesial life, dominated in the public sphere by divisive debates on matters such as gender or sexuality. Given the constant presence of disagreement throughout the church’s history, it remains an ethical subject neglected by scholars. This study examines how New Testament texts might inform Christian approaches to disagreement. It is the first systematic consideration of disagreement as a New Testament theme; it follows, and critiques, the methodological approach of Richard Hays in The Moral Vision of the New Testament. The context is public disagreement among Christians: how the church speaks in public when facing its inevitable disagreements, and what theological and ethical concerns might inform how this speech proceeds. The thesis is in three parts. Part One is an examination of the New Testament in relation to disagreement, following Hays' 'descriptive task'. In Part Two, the 'synthetic' and 'hermeneutical' tasks of Hays' methodology are critiqued and some modifications are proposed; a theology of disagreement that emerges from the New Testament is outlined. Part Three considers some ecclesiological implications of this theology of disagreement. Following Hays' 'pragmatic task', it examines how moral theological insights from the New Testament interact with the life of the contemporary church. Illustrative examples consider the church's public theological witness, its pneumatology, and its liturgy, to demonstrate the need for a Christian ethic to engage with extra-Biblical authority with greater enthusiasm than Hays. The thesis concludes by affirming the particular value of reading the New Testament in pursuit of ethical wisdom, but without excluding insights from tradition, reason and experience. The challenge for the church is identified as a move Towards Loving Disagreement; an integral part of its mission is to disagree Christianly.
Supervisor: Biggar, Nigel Sponsor: Church of England Ministry Division ; St Luke's College Foundation ; Lady Peel Charitable Trust ; Squire and Marriott Bursary
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Richard Hays ; Christian ethics--Biblical teaching ; Moral Theology ; Christian ethics ; Disagreement ; Ecclesiology ; New Testament ethics ; Moral theology ; Biblical ethics ; New Testament ; Ethics ; Church unity