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This conference interrogates the diverse echoes of Christendom in contemporary political exceptionalism, nationalism and populism. Whether in the shape of the Russian World ideology, Christian civilisationalism, or religious conservatism in and beyond Europe, these echoes of Christendom may translate in new forms of intolerance, oppression, and even violence. At the same time, apparently progressive Christian movements and networks – such as those for international development or freedom of religion and belief – retain artifacts of Christendom in their political discourses and practices. These various modes of Christianism present a significant challenge to scholars from across Christian traditions: to deconstruct both confessional and secular appeals to Christian identity for political purposes, and to articulate political theological alternatives which can contain social and political tensions in a story about peaceful coexistence. Moreover, they need to do so in intra- and inter-religious conversation, and across political theological traditions.
Acknowledging that the dangers emanating from and similar to the Russian World ideology are not confined to the realm of Orthodoxy, this conference calls for an ecumenical effort to develop ‘Political Theologies after Christendom’ in the context of religious pluralism worldwide. Beyond the ambition of political and cultural relevance or the temptation to resort to a counter-cultural posture might lie a third way: a Christianity that stops thinking of ‘the other’ as ‘neighbour’ or ‘guest’ and which becomes ‘a neighbour’ itself – a Christianity that does not compare its experience with what Christianity may have been before ‘secularisation’ or ‘individualisation’ happened, but one that takes responsibility for common life as it takes shape in the here and now, and with an eye to the future. What has political theology got to offer? What kinds of reformations of ‘Christendom’ are emerging in Catholicism, Protestantism, Orthodoxy and in transnational Christian social movements? Is it possible for our political imaginations to move beyond the majority/minority binary? What are the most promising political and theological imaginaries of post-Christendom? Where do we go from here?
Download the programme for full details of the panels taking place during the conference.