The Full Text of the Bishop of London’s Premiere Lecture

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Barely twenty years ago, serious commentators, like Francis Fukuyama in his book The End of History, were able to argue that liberal democracy and market economics may constitute the term of mankind's ideological evolution and the final form of human government, and thus the end-point of history. History, however, has moved on in the intervening years, not least in the new prominence of religious convictions and institutions.

In these circumstances, it has proved harder to craft a political rhetoric and a convincing narrative pointing to a better material future, which many citizens have begun to suspect actually lies behind us. Hope is on the wing while some of the strongest political passions seem to be engaged, not by a vision of a better future but by a rather narrow nationalism which exalts our tribe against the others.

Is a renewed Christian vision in these circumstances possible? It may be, but I wonder whether the Christian community is ready for it?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

4 Comments
Posted June 14, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. driver8 wrote:

I am broadly sympathetic to the Burkean idea that, so to say, society is a transgenerational “contract” in which the living hold in trusteeship that which they inherit for the good of the unborn.

But it seems to but that the claim blow is a frightening untruth. It’s the argument of the Revolutionaries, and progressives ever since, that the State can and ought to renew society. It’s a claim the Bishop ought to resist, to deny, to critique.

For the past two hundred years, however, ever since the decapitation of Marie Antoinette, hope even for Christians has largely resided in politics, as the widespread political use of Blake’s Jerusalem attests.

For Christians of all people surely know that the tacit social practices and the institutions that guard and shape them, like marriage, like family, like church, in which our deepest loves are formed, are not created by the State and the State is typically too inept a surgeon to do anything with them except injure.

Our hope lies not in settling ever more deeply into the progressive fantasy about the State but in defending the little practices, the set of relationships and virtues, in which the significance of our lives is found, or lost. The State ought to exist to uphold and defend

June 14, 11:17 am | [comment link]
2. driver8 wrote:

That I managed a sentence so completely and did not notice it, is slightly galling: “But it seems to but that the claim blow is a frightening untruth”. It should be something more like, “But it seems to me that the claim below is a frightening untruth”.

The conclusion of my final sentence is also missing but you’ll get the drift.

June 14, 1:51 pm | [comment link]
3. Terry Tee wrote:

I agree driver8.  So does Alasdair MacIntyre at Notre Dame.  Sounds to me like you’ve read After Virtue.

June 14, 2:55 pm | [comment link]
4. driver8 wrote:

Surely could be but that mostly came out of recently listening to a couple of lectures by Roger Scruton.

June 15, 4:06 am | [comment link]
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