Oliver O’Donovan in Conversation
Discussing political theology with Matthew Lee Anderson and Ken Myers
Oliver O’Donovan’s 1996 book The Desire of the The Nations: Rediscovering the Roots of Political Theology is a monumentally important work. The roots referenced in the subtitle are present in the Old Testament, in the New Testament, and in pre-modern theological reflection on the task of political authority. Modern theology and modern politics have tended — sometimes vehemently — to insist on a wall of separation between them, a wall O’Donovan insists must be torn down if we are to be true to the Gospel, which is, after all, the good news about God’s Kingdom. “Theology must be political if it is to be evangelical. Rule out the political questions and you cut short the proclamation of God’s saving power; you leave people enslaved where they ought to be set free from sin — their own sin and others’.”
In October 2013, while the U.S. government was shut down over disputes about the federal budget, Oliver O’Donovan made a rare visit to Capitol Hill for a public conversation about the Gospel and public life. The event was held a few blocks from the relatively darkened Capitol building, before a group of about 160 congressional and executive branch staff people, Christian activists, clergy, theologians, and assorted lay-people. Sponsored by the Mere Orthodoxy blog, RenewDC, the Christian’s Library Press, and MARS HILL AUDIO, the conversation was convened by Matthew Lee Anderson, the author of The End of Our Exploring and Earthen Vessels, and one of the principal contributors to mereorthodoxy.com.
The event was recorded and is available here, in streaming audio or downloadable MP3. (Listeners must sign in to access the audio.)
A brief extract from The Desire of the Nations is available here.