Symmetries of the kingdom: Suggestions from Girard and Bonhoeffer on thinking the church-state relation

Heythrop Journal 51 (4):567-581 (2010)
Abstract
The work of René Girard invites us to re-imagine a ‘religious–secular’ interactivity within social space in a way released from the violent dualisms of the ‘sacred/profane.’ Earlier Dietrich Bonhoeffer considered the same task and suggested directions for a positive theology of church-state relations, even as the inherited forms of these institutions were collapsing about him. This paper explores the Girardian scenario for church and state becoming rivalrous ‘doubles’– whether it be secular utopic projects doubling religious narratives of redemption, or churches doubling the state as parallel yet purer societies – and suggests resources from Bonhoeffer by which a non-rivalrous church-state relationality - both mutually-constituting and mutually-limiting - may be configured
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