To Judge or Not to Judge: Engaging with Oliver O'Donovan's Political Ethics

Studies in Christian Ethics 25 (3):295-311 (2012)
This article addresses the apparent tension in O’Donovan’s overall argument in The Ways of Judgment (2005): a tension between his constructive account of judgement (central to Parts I and II), and his endorsement of Jesus’ injunction not to judge (central to Part III). After clarifying exactly what kind of judgement O’Donovan intends in identifying judgement as the core political practice, the article highlights a few key aspects of O’Donovan’s political theology that might mitigate, or even take away, the tension in his argument. The article then goes on to address a remaining issue, namely that O’Donovan seems to imply that Christians are to judge only in private, thereby leaving all public judgement to the secular authorities. In response to this impression the article will affirm, in the light of Rom. 12:1-8, that the church does exercise public judgement, by corporately discerning, formulating and enacting the implications of God’s judgement in Christ
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DOI 10.1177/0953946812444679
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