Redeeming Politics

Redeeming Politics

Peter Iver Kaufman
Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Redeeming Politics
    Book Description:

    Peter Iver Kaufman explores how various Christian leaders throughout history have used forms of "political theology" to merge the romance of conquest and empire with hopes for political and religious redemption. His discussion covers such figures as Constantine, Augustine, Charlemagne, Pope Gregory VII, Dante, Zwingli, Calvin, and Cromwell.

    Originally published in 1992.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6110-1
    Subjects: Political Science, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    John F. Wilson, Robert T. Handy, Stanley N. Katz and Albert J. Raboteau

    Redeeming Politicsis the third of the “Studies in Church and State” sponsored by the Project on Church and State at Princeton University.The Restructuring of American Religion: Society and Faith Since World War II,by Robert Wuthnow, andShintō and the State,1868–1988, by Helen Hardacre, both published by Princeton University Press, preceded it in 1988 and 1989 respectively. Wuthnow’s volume analyzes the general forces that have been redefining the role of religion in the United States over the past four decades. Hardacre’s investigates a modernizing nationstate’s relationship with religious traditions. The present volume, by a historian of...

    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-2)
    (pp. 3-10)

    How should we think of redeeming politics? In the history of the Christian traditions, from the time of Constantine’s conversion to that of Oliver Cromwell’s civil war, Christianity and politics were often so closely joined that it is difficult now to tell whether we are looking back at religious or political convictions. That made me curious about apologetic strategies that inspired such convictions and Christian political cultures they created. To ward off imprecision on the route from curiosity to the conclusion of this presentation, I formulated and offer here some preliminary redefinitions.

    Political cultureis said to refer to activities...

  7. Part One: Conquest
    • [PART ONE Introduction]
      (pp. 11-13)

      Long before and long after St. Paul wrote to Christians in Rome, ruling elites associated their rule with divine will. They were understandably eager to tell this to the people they ruled; monuments, entertainments, public orations, and coins alluded to emperors’ divine calling. About those people, little can be reported with certainty. Some of us today are tempted to think of credulous citizens as some form of ciliate life, swimming uncritically, even mindlessly, in political currents generated by clever apologists for autocracy and tyranny. But possibly citizens believed or feigned belief in statesmen’s divine rights because they feared anarchy. Perhaps...

    • Chapter One CONSTANTINE
      (pp. 14-28)

      What would have tempted someone in late antiquity to join a persecuted sect? Exorcisms and deathbed miracles may have mesmerized some who witnessed them. Inspirational preachers may have persuaded others who chanced to hear them in friends’ homes or on the streets, for persecution was intermittent in the third and fourth centuries and did not always force Christians underground. All we really know is that conversions continued to swell the ranks of the new religion, despite legislation against its worship. Apologists for Christianity, however, realized that, if the Roman empire’s rival gods and rival pieties were ever to be overtaken,...

    • Chapter Two CONSTANTINE’S SHADOW (I)
      (pp. 29-40)

      Paulus Orosius had good reason to retell Eusebius’s story of Constantinople’s marvelous making and then to contrast it with the legends about Rome’s uphill struggle for sovereignty in the Mediterranean basin. Invaders had just looted the venerable old capital. In fact, they infested much of the western empire, and Orosius was himself driven from Spain and forced to seek safety in North Africa. He found some consolation as he surveyed the empire’s humiliation, for Constantinople remained standing even as Rome was brought to her knees. For Orosius, that was enough to confirm Eusebius’s predictions of a new age. The old...

    • Chapter Three CONSTANTINE’S SHADOW (II)
      (pp. 41-59)

      After the pontificate of Gregory VII, which will concern us in the fifth chapter, most bishops of Rome opposed theorists who identified either political or religious redemption with the rule of emperors or the regimes of lesser kings. But no pontiff mastered the politicians, their publicists, and the political situation of Europe as completely as Lothar Segni did when he assumed office as Pope Innocent III in 1198. Early in the thirteenth century, he turned belligerent barons into humble appellants. His intrigues gained him considerable say in the affairs of the empire. He prodded Philip II of France to acknowledge...

      (pp. 60-76)

      Apologists often set their sovereigns in Constantine’s shadow. They wished to inspire citizens’ loyalty and obedience and to make sedition tantamount to impiety. If the political order and the divine order appeared identical, or at least consonant, protest might be averted because all would know that revolution put rebels’ redemption at risk. But Christian sociolatry was not the exclusive property of ruling elites and their ideologues. When opposition parties and their preachers argued that rulers failed to embody sacred virtues and that the reigning order failed to enshrine cherished values and ideals, they occasionally adapted the themes of sociolatry to...

  8. Part Two: Clerocracy and Conflict
    • Chapter Five THE IMPERIAL PAPACY
      (pp. 79-104)

      Legitimating ideologies scandalize some readers by associating emperors and armies with redemption. Notwithstanding Old Testament models, it seems irregular, if not irreverent, to speak as if brutal warriors and guileful politicians possessed sacred authority. A church, of course, is a more recognizable repository for the sacred and a more conventional route to salvation. After Pentecost, Christian churches instructed the faithful about God’s promises and imparted the grace necessary to obtain what God had promised. Some church officials joined political interests and ambitions to those clerical responsibilities. And why not? As the apostles’ heirs, they acquired the power to bind and...

    • Chapter Six JOHN CALVIN’S GENEVA
      (pp. 105-126)

      Theologians have said that justification is a journey, a single continuous journey commencing in this life and completed in the next. Roman Catholic theorists, particularly the proponents of papal sociolatry, assumed the church should have some significant say at every stage of the trip. The earliest Protestants objected. One was saved, they said, in an instant—the instant one accepted that Christ died to reconcile sinners with their God. Live with faith in God’s atonement, God’s promises, and God’s mercy, and one need not worry about the sudden swerves and turns of fortune that usually disrupt life and raise doubts...

  9. Part Three: Crisis
    • [PART THREE Introduction]
      (pp. 127-129)

      Jesus’ interview with Pilate, executor of justice in “this world,” was an influential exchange. Confrontations between later martyrs and public authorities bore striking resemblances to it. From Jesus, then, Christians seem to have learned to distinguish redemption from earthly rule. “You say that I am king,” Jesus replied to Pilate, who was merely repeating what had been reported to him. Jesus’ disclaimer set him straight: “For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37). The implication is thatthetruth was different from and, for that matter,...

      (pp. 130-148)

      If we want to learn how the decomposition and recomposition of Christian sociolatry were related to political crisis, the place to start is the monumentalCity of God,which is still Christianity’s most influential treatment of piety and politics. Sourcebooks for political theory compress it for student use as if Augustine’s tale of two cities (one “at home” on earth and the other on pilgrimage to God) were easier to abridge than Dickens’s. The bishop, of course, did not write hisCityfor college surveys. It was composed as a sprawling response to the great crisis of the Christian empire,...

      (pp. 149-169)

      Augustine ruled out triumphalism after Rome’s “fall,” but crisis killed neither the ideals of Christian empire nor the Christian empire itself. The influential North African bishop set about conceptually to repair and, one might say, to temper Christian sociolatry. His critics, notably the leaders of Donatist churches in Numidia, were more mistrustful of the Christian empire. They suspected political culture was irredeemable. The very concept of a Christian empire seemed preposterous to them. More than a millennium later, their objections to Augustine and to Christian sociolatry were revived by sectarian Protestant critics of redeeming politics in Europe, both Catholic and...

    (pp. 170-174)

    The last chapter’s account of Zwingli and the sectarians brought two forms of Christian sociolatry into the same narrative. There was no serious dissension among reformers in Zurich at first. Zwingli was the undisputed leader of the group whose agitation against episcopal government and clerical conservatism brought Johann Faber to the city. On behalf of the bishop, Faber urged patience and advised reformers and magistrates alike that the church had plans to review grievances. If submitted to the council soon to be convened in Nuremberg, complaints and alternative policies would be carefully considered by highly placed prelates and their clerical...

    (pp. 175-204)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 205-209)