There is a renewed interest in socialism among Christian theologians, writes Stephen H. Webb in First Things magazine (April). It is particularly theologians associated with the “Radical Orthodoxy” movement who have sought to develop ties with the economic left. Radical Orthodox theologians such as John Milbank and Graham Ward have sought to revive the role of Christian metaphysics and the tradition of the early church fathers in their work.
At the same time, writes Webb, they have built on the work of anti-globalism theorist Antonio Negri and neo-Marxist Slavoj Zizek, viewing capitalism as an ideology diametrically opposed to Christianity. Milbank claims that Christianity can “redeem socialism by incorporating economics into a vision of transcendence that promises social cohesion without threatening violence,” writes Webb.
He adds that such prominent theologians are missing out on contributing to new conversations about the importance of religion and values in market economies. Recent theories, such as those of the New Institutional Economics, have, according to Webb, gone beyond the “reduction of human behavior to self-interested calculations of utility during the reign of rational-choice theory.” Such prominent economists as Douglass C. North is leading this initiative with an inquiry into the necessary cultural conditions, including religion, for economic growth.
(First Things, 156 Fifth Ave., Suite 400, New York, NY 10010):