Religion and Philosophy

Political Theology Today

By David Pan, TELOS

What does political theology mean today? At the Telos-Paul Piccone Institute conference from which many of the essays in this issue originated, a primary goal was to discuss the crisis of secular liberalism and “how faith is reshaping culture and politics today.”[1] But even this project perhaps limits too much the scope of political theology, implying that we have a choice between reason and faith, or that political theology is a commitment to faith rather than an analysis of the element of faith that underlies all of our endeavors. The idea of political theology begins with the premise that every existing human order is built upon some understanding of ultimate meaning. The task would then be to analyze the kind of meaning that each existing order embodies and determine the kinds of decisions about meaning that are made and need to be made at various points in its history. Even secular liberalism, to the extent that it constitutes an existing order, presumes some answer to this question of meaning, and a closer look at the political theology of the United States reveals a mythic dimension that underlies its liberal democratic processes.[2] The essays in this issue examine the political theological underpinnings of economy, politics, technology, and religion, laying out the ways in which these areas of human life develop not as autonomous spheres but as the result of struggles over a set of political theological choices.

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