Christ and the Common Good: Political Theology and the Case for Democracy
Eerdmans, 2019, viii + 522 pp., hbk, £34
Christ and the Common Good is a big book: ambitious in the scale of its argument, wide-ranging in its selected topics, and profound in its analyses and argument for democracy. As such, it is probably more than one book and could be read selectively as either a primer in political theology, or a political theology of a common life, or an articulation and defence of democratic politics as a Christian option. Its chief theological innovation is a stress on the significance of pneumatology to political theology. If the two dominant options in political theology are Christological-sacramental and Christological-eschatological, Bretherton seeks to add a third, pneumatology: a political theology of ‘the second difference’. As such, the book is loosely organised, and tends to avoid the lure of binaries and the lurid discourse of the apocalyptic and offers instead an irenic tone and a flexible, mediating approach. Covering topics not often engaged in political theology (humanitarianism, Pentecostalism, for example) and thereby seeking to move political theology closer to practice, the book represents a very impressive achievement.