Tag Archives: political theology

‘Review Essay: Theological Medicine for Liberal Democracy’, in Journal of Markets & Morality, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Spring 2019)


As Smith points out, the genealogy of liberal democracy demonstrates that liberalism is nothing less than the prodigal son of Christianity. Thus, it becomes plausible that Christianity has a continuing role to play in a liberal democracy. Smith might even be right that it is not so much common grace and natural law, but rather Christianity exclusively, on which liberal democracy is dependent. Constitutional lawyers and political scientists would indeed be well-advised to be more generous in integrating theological insights as well into their work in order to find this out for themselves.

Hans-Martien ten Napel, “Review Essay: Theological Medicine for Liberal Democracy,” Journal of Markets & Morality 22, no. 1 (Spring 2019): 169-181.*

*Review essay of James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation, Cultural Liturgies, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009); Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, Cultural Liturgies, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013); Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology, Cultural Liturgies, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017).’

Source, and full text: http://www.marketsandmorality.com/index.php/mandm/issue/view/45

See also:

Forthcoming review essay of James K.A. Smith’s Cultural Liturgies

Blogpost ‘The Political Theology of Thierry Baudet’

Upcoming Speaking Engagement: Annual Conference of the European Academy of Religion, Bologna, March 4-7, 2019


Upcoming Speaking Engagement: The Spirit of Populism. Political Theologies in Polarized Times

Looking forward to participating in the above international and interdisciplinary conference, School of Divinity, New College, Edinburgh, 2-3 September 2019.

The description of the conference theme reads as follows:

‘Is populism on the rise? Across the political spectrum, populism is considered a catch-all category to be critiqued: describing something as populist and dismissing something as populist go hand in hand. But theological justifications of populism, such as the identification of Christianity with Europe, resonate with mainstream political positions that are articulated and accepted in the public square.

The critique of populism parallels and points to a critique of the role of theology in politics. This critique can come either as a rejection of the politicization of theology (presupposing that genuine theology ought to be non-political) or as a rejection of the theologization of politics (presupposing that genuine politics ought to be non-theological). What runs through these critiques is the assumption that claims to theology cause the populist polarization of the public square. Is populism yet another resurrection of Carl Schmitt? Whether populism is interpreted as an authentic account of religion or as an inauthentic appropriation of religion for political ends, it needs to be carefully examined and critically explored. Does theology in politics automatically lead to populism? Does populism automatically lead to theology in politics? What indeed is the role of political theologies in polarized times?

See for more information: https://www.ed.ac.uk/divinity/news-events/events/spirit-of-populism-conference.

See also:

Blogpost ‘The Political Theology of Thierry Baudet’

Forthcoming review essay of James K.A. Smith’s Cultural Liturgies

Book review: ‘The Political Theology of European Integration,’ by Mark R. Royce


Blogpost ‘The Political Theology of Thierry Baudet’

Governments have historically relied on metaphysical sources for their legitimacy. The French Revolution intended to put an end to this. However, with the current rise of populism, among other things, we are witnessing a revival of political theology.

Read the whole blogpost here: https://leidenlawblog.nl/articles/the-political-theology-of-thierry-baudet.

See also:

Forthcoming review essay of James K.A. Smith’s Cultural Liturgies

Upcoming Speaking Engagement: Annual Conference of the European Academy of Religion, Bologna, March 4-7, 2019

Blogpost ‘The State of Dutch Democracy: Dancing on the Deck of the Titanic?’

Law and Religious Freedom Book Panel at the Annual Meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, Boston, Friday, November 17, 2017, 4 PM – 6 PM EST (II)

About the three distinguished panelists:

Professor Cathleen Kaveny, a scholar who focuses on the relationship of law, religion, and morality, joined the Boston College faculty in January 2014 as the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor, a position that includes appointments in both the department of theology and the law school. She is the first faculty member to hold such a joint appointment. A member of the Massachusetts Bar since 1993, Professor Kaveny clerked for the Honorable John T. Noonan Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and worked as an associate at the Boston law firm of Ropes & Gray in its health-law group.

Professor Kaveny has published over a hundred articles and essays, in journals and books specializing in law, ethics, and medical ethics. She serves on the masthead of Commonweal as a regular columnist. Her book, Law’s Virtues: Fostering Autonomy and Solidarity in American Society, was published by Georgetown University Press in 2012. It won a first place award in the category of “Faithful Citizenship” from the Catholic Press Association. She is currently completing a book entitled Prophecy without Contempt: An Ethics of Religious Rhetoric in the Public Square.

Professor Kaveny regularly teaches contract law to first-year law students. She also teaches a number of seminars which explore the relationship between theology, philosophy, and law, such as “Faith, Morality, and Law,” “Mercy and Justice,” and “Complicity.”

Professor Kaveny is the president of the Society of Christian Ethics, the major professional society for scholars of Christian ethics and moral theology in North America. It meets annually in conjunction with the Society of Jewish Ethics and the Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics.

Professor Kaveny has served on a number of editorial boards including The American Journal of Jurisprudence, The Journal of Religious Ethics, the Journal of Law and Religion, and The Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics. She has been a visiting professor at Princeton University, Yale University and Georgetown University, and a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago’s Martin Marty Center. From 1995 until 2013 she taught law and theology at the University of Notre Dame, where she was a John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law.’

Source: https://www.bc.edu/bc-web/schools/law/academics-faculty/faculty-directory/cathleen-kaveny.html

Shaun Casey is director of the Berkley Center and a professor of the practice in Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. He previously was U.S. special representative for religion and global affairs and director of the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs. He has also held positions at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., the Center for American Progress, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Casey has written on the ethics of the war in Iraq, as well the role of religion in American presidential politics. He is the author of The Making of a Catholic President: Kennedy vs. Nixon 1960 (2009) and co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Political Theology (forthcoming, with Michael Kessler); he is writing a book on ethics and international politics tentatively titled Niebuhr’s Children. Casey holds a B.A. from Abilene Christian University, MPA from Harvard Kennedy School, and M.Div. and Th.D. in religion and society from Harvard Divinity School.’

Source: https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/people/shaun-casey

Robin W. Lovin is William H. Scheide Senior Fellow at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey, and Cary Maguire University Professor of Ethics emeritus at Southern Methodist University.  A resident scholar at CTI since 2012, he became a member of the SMU faculty in 1994, and served as Dean of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology from 1994-2002. Dr. Lovin’s most recent books are Christian Realism and the New Realities (2008) and An Introduction to Christian Ethics (2011). He has also written extensively on religion and law and comparative religious ethics. He is a former Guggenheim Fellow, former president of the Society of Christian Ethics, and a member of the advisory board for the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life at Oxford University.’

Source: http://www.ctinquiry.org/program/bio_robin-lovin

See also:

Law and Religious Freedom Book Panel at the Annual Meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, Boston, Friday, November 17 at 4 PM – 6 PM EST

Paper presentation during panel on ‘Religion & Pluralism in a Changing World’, BYU Law School, Provo, Utah

Book review: ‘The Political Theology of European Integration,’ by Mark R. Royce




Book review: ‘The Political Theology of European Integration,’ by Mark R. Royce

‘The central question political scientist Mark R. Royce addresses in his book, The Political Theology of European Integration: Comparing the Influence of Religious Histories on European Policies, is whether the process of European integration as it has developed since the Second World War, and continues to develop as a result of issues such as Brexit, is also influenced by political theological considerations. He defines “political theology” as “the authoritative application of sacred ideas to public policies and discourses” (p. 1). In the context of Royce’s study, which focuses on 17 Western European countries, in particular Roman Catholicism and the Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican forms of Protestantism are relevant.’

Read the whole book review, published on the Religion & Liberty Transatlantic Blog, here:   https://acton.org/publications/transatlantic/2017/08/18/book-review-political-theology-european-integration-mark-r

Paper Presentation during Journal of Law, Religion & State International Conference on ‘The Rule of Law – Religious Perspectives’, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel, 20-22 November 2016


For the program of the conference, see:

The call for papers for the conference can be found here:


The original paper proposal which I submitted, read as follows:

Christianity, Liberalism, and the Rule of Law

During the last decade or so the discipline of constitutional law has changed considerably. It has become more comparative, interdisciplinary and theoretical. What has not happened yet, however, is that constitutional lawyers have become more (openly) aware of their philosophical presuppositions. Thus, it is still commonplace for central concepts of the discipline, such as the rule of law, to be treated as if they do not at least partly have their historical roots in religions like Christianity, or as if such religions currently no longer have anything to contribute to these concepts.

This is remarkable, given that for example Michel Rosenfeld has had to concede ‘that there is no consensus on what “the rule of law” stands for, even if it is fairly clear what it stands against. An important part of the problem is that “the rule of law” is an “essentially contestable concept,” with both descriptive and prescriptive content over which there is a lack of widespread agreement.’

In light of the above, the proposed paper will depart from the idea that the concept of the rule of law is somehow intimately connected with Western liberal tradition. As Michael W. McConnell has argued, the history of liberalism in turn goes back further than the Enlightenment of the 18th century. It is probably more accurate to regard the 16th century Reformation as having given rise to liberalism, with its emphasis on the idea of individual conscience.

McConnell has also elaborated upon the similarities between some of the core doctrines of liberalism and particular Christian theological principles. Of these different connections, the one between the notion of limited government and the idea of the separation of church and state will be singled out, i.e. libertas ecclesiae or the ‘freedom of the church’. As McConnell puts it, ‘[i]n this view, religious freedom comes into being not as a result of ontological individualism but as a result of the jurisdictional separation between these two sets of authorities. (…) While theological in its origin, the two-kingdoms idea lent powerful support to a more general liberal theory of government. The separation of church from state is the most powerful possible refutation of the notion that the political sphere is omnicompetent – that it has rightful authority over all of life. If the state does not have power over the church, it follows that the power of the state is limited.’

The proposed paper will argue that this prescriptive meaning ascribed to the concept of rule of law by Christianity takes on a renewed relevance at a time when sovereignty claims by religious institutions are increasingly regarded by their critics as incompatible with the idea of state sovereignty being the only legitimate source of sovereignty. Thus, it is unfortunately presented as if a clear choice will need to be made between the jurisdictional approach to religious freedom and the modern liberal view that sees sovereignty within the liberal democratic state as essentially monistic in nature.

Paper-presentation during conference on ‘Religion and Civil Society’, Harvard Law School

I will be attending the conference on ‘Religion and Civil Society; The Changing Faces of "Religion" and "Secularity"’ this week, organized by the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) of the University of Navarra (Pamplona, Spain), at Harvard Law School. For the conference, which was announced earlier on this blog, I co-authored a paper with Jaco van den Brink on ‘The State, Civil Society and Religious Freedom’. The final program appears below:  

7th June



"The changing faces of religion and secularism"
Mary Ann Glendon
Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University Law School, Cambridge.


"Parenthood in God and civil society"
Rafael Alvira
Professor of History of Philosophy at ICS University of Navarra


"Religious civilization and civil religion in a multicultural world"
Carmelo Vigna
Professor of Moral Philosophy at Università Ca Foscari of Venice

12:30 Lunch



Workshop 1
Religious Freedom in Contemporary Juridical Context

Chair: Francisca Pérez Madrid, Professor of Law. University of Barcelona

Crosses and Culture: State-Sponsored Religious Displays in the United States and Europe
Mark L. Movsesian
Frederick A. Whitney Professor and Director at the Center for Law and Religion, St. John’s University, New York.

The State, Civil Society and Religious Freedom
Hans-Martien ten Napel
Assistant Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law at Leiden University.

A Cookbook of Ways to Dissolve Religious Associations through Law
Iain T. Benson
Senior Associate Counsel of Miller Thomson LLP in Canada. University of the Free State of South Africa.

Freedom of Religion and Belief: Is there a Role for the European External Action Service?
Pasquale Annicchino
Research Fellow at Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute, San Domenico di Fiesole.

Forum Internum and Forum Externum and the Negotiation of the Public-Private Divide in Canon Law and Public International Law with a Particular Reference to the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights
Peter Petkoff
Research Fellow. Director of Law, Religion and International Relations Programme. Regent’s Park College, Oxford. Brunel University Law School, West London.

Religious freedom and the cultural dimension of religion
Francisca Pérez Madrid
Professor of Law at University of Barcelona.


Workshop II
Medieval Political Theology: Theory & Practice.
Chair: Jaume Aurell. Dean of the School of Philosophy and Social Studies, University of Navarra

How did "Political Theology" exist in the Middle Ages?
Montserrat Herrero
Associate Professor of Political Philosophy at ICS, University of Navarra.

Ernst H. Kantorowicz and Gabriel Naudé: from "Mysteries of State" to "Coups d’État"
Antonio Bento
Associate Professor of Political Philosophy at University of Beira Interior.

Places of Power: the City and the Court in Late Medieval Iberia
Rita Costa Gomes
Associate Professor of Medieval History at Towson University

Just War and Criticism of Crusade in Western Medieval Society
Martin Aurell

Professor of Medieval History at University of Poitiers. Institut Universitaire de France

King Peter of Aragon Self-coronation (1336) and its Historical, Liturgical and Iconographical Representations
Jaume Aurell
Associate Professor of Medieval History at University of Navarra

The iconology of breaking medieval seal matrices
Alfons Puigarnau
Associate Professor of Theory of Art at International University of Catalunya

18:30 Dinner



"Culture and Civil Society"
Robert Royal
Faith & Reason Institute, Washington, D.C.

8th June



Defending Civil Society: Religious Advocacy in American National Politics
Allen Hertzke
Presidential Professor of Political Science at University of Oklahoma


Why Religion and ‘the Secular’ cannot be Separated
Jean Bethke Elstain
Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the Divinity School. Department of Political Science and the Committee on International Relations at the University of Chicago


The Theologico-Political Problem Today
Russell Hittinger
William K. Warren Professor of Catholic Studies. Research Professor of Law at University of Tulsa

12:30 Lunch



Workshop III
Liberalism, Capitalism and Religion

Chair: Raquel Lázaro, University of Navarra

David Hume and True Religion
Gordon Graham
Henry Luce III Professor of Philosophy and the Arts at Princeton Theological Seminary

Living toguther differently: beyond the liberal synthesis
Adam Seligman
Professor of Religion at Boston University. Research Associate at Institute for Study of Economic Culture, Boston University.

The role of Religion according Mandeville and Hutcheson
Julio Seoane
Associate Professor of Philosophy at University of Alcalá

The Ethical Gap in Modern Ideals of Citizenship: A Diagnosis and a Proposal
David Thunder
Visiting Assistant Professor at Villanova University

An analysis of the history of Western Man: Personhood, Individuality & Transformation
Robert de Simone
Research Fellow at ICS at University of Navarra-New York

God and Religion in a commercial society, according to Adam Smith
Raquel Lázaro
Associate Professor of Modern Philosophy at University of Navarra


Workshop IV
The Media and the Process of Secularization of Society
Chair: Mercedes Montero and Mónica Codina, University of Navarra

Freedom of speech as naturalized religious freedom: historical antecedents and views from social pragmatism
Mariano Navarro
Chief of Communication Research Division at Panamericana University, México D. F.

Free speech and the rationality of public communication in a changing era
Mónica Codina
Associate Professor of Ethics and Communication at University of Navarra

˜Without religion, there is no peace". Religious freedom in the catholic and liberal newspapers in Mexico City (1833-1857)
Inigo Fernández
Research Fellow at Panamericana University, México D. F.

The secularization of society and the role of the media. The "agenda-Gramsci" in the Spanish newspaper El Pais
Mercedes Montero
Associate Professor of Journalism History at ICS, University of Navarra


Workshop V
Monotheism & Violence
Chair: Alejandra Vanney. Austral University of Buenos Aires. (Argentina)

Monotheistic Trinitarianism, Theological Exclusivism, and Nonviolence: An Overlooked Alternative
Peter D. Anders
Instructor in Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary Boston

Monotheism and Political Violence: Reflections on the Argumentative Sustainability of a Causal Claim
Govert Buijs
Lecturer in Social and Political Philosophy at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Islam, Intolerance and Violence; a view from the West
Javier Gil
Ph D. ICS, University of Navarra

The One True God: Making the Truth about Monotheism Count
Alejandra Vanney
Associate Professor of Political Science at the Austral University of Buenos Aires

20:00 Dinner

Source: http://www.unav.es/centro/religion-sociedad/programa-congreso-harvard.