aving explored the theological side of political theology in The Desire of Nations
, O'Donovan completes the 'second half of a diptych' in The Ways of Judgment
, the Bampton Lectures for 2003, by engaging the political implications of his earlier explorations. He believes the church has survived its crisis of legitimization by the sustained critiques of modern science and philosophy, and that now the secular realm finds itself directionless in the wake of the political disasters and upheavals of the twentieth century: ' . . . modernity is the child of Christianity, and at the same time . . . it has left its father's house and followed the way of the prodigal. Or, to paint the picture in more somber colours . . . modernity can be conceived as Antichrist, a parodic and corrupt development of Christian social order.' O'Donovan proposes that a Christian political vision has much to offer in thinking about the realms of justice, punishment and mercy, and the role of political authority; and especially in preaching the Cross of Christ, reminds the world that its logic of power and judgment have been relativized. The communion-koinonia-within the Church is the ultimate model it has to offer to the world.
An Eighth Day View:
In this probing book Oliver O'Donovan extends the exploration into the correspondence between theology and politics that he began in "The Desire of the Nations," While that earlier work took as its starting point the biblical proclamation of God's authority, "The Ways of Judgment" approaches political theology from the political side. Responsive to developments such as the uncertain role of the United Nations after the Cold War and the expansion of the European Union, O'Donovan also draws on the extensive tradition of Christian political thought and a range of contemporary theologians.
Rather than supposing, as does some political theology, that the right political orientations are well understood and that theological beliefs should be renegotiated to fit them, O'Donovan considers contemporary social and political realities to be impenetrably obscure and elusive. Finding the gospel proclamation luminous by contrast, O'Donovan sheds light from the Christian faith upon the intricate challenge of seeking the good in late-modern Western society.
Pursuing his analysis in three movements, O'Donovan first considers the paradigmatic political act, the act of judgment, and then takes up the question of forming political institutions through representation. Finally, he tackles the opposition between political institutions and the church, provocatively investigating how Christians can be the community instructed by Jesus to "judge not."