Review: Political Agape Christian Love and Liberal Democracy

Bharat Ranganathan, University of Nebraska at Omaha

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"Political Agape Christian Love and Liberal Democracy" by Bharat Ranganathan, Reading Religion is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0


Timothy Jackson’s Political Agape: Christian Love and Liberal Democracy is expansive. Across the book’s twelve chapters, which are themselves bookended by a substantive introduction and conclusion, he covers an impressive range of moral, political, and religious thinkers, including Ronald Dworkin, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, John Rawls, Richard Rorty, Peter Singer, and Jeffrey Stout. He also discusses an array of disparate topics, including adoption, euthanasia, capital punishment, gay marriage, and human rights. His book is also ambitious: he examines these thinkers and topics while aiming to think together commitments to both neighbor-love and liberal democracy, simultaneously navigating between sectarianism (“a certain school in Durham”) and the accommodationism of modernity and secularism (“a certain school in Boston”) (xi). While canvasing this terrain, Jackson’s motivating thesis is “that if we rightly understand Christianity as prophetic, then justice-as-respecting-status-or-rights will have its place, but love-as-addressing-needs-and-potentials will be politically foundational” .