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Soteriology, Debt, and Faithful Witness: Four Theses for a Political Theology of Economic Democracy

Luke Bretherton


The essay seeks to understand what is theologically at stake when challenging the power of money in shaping our common life. To do so it sets out four theses, with commentary, that are suggestive of how we might go about generating a critically constructive and theologically attuned vision of an earthly oikonomia within the contemporary context. The first thesis is that envisioning a contemporary economics of mutual and ecological flourishing necessitates teasing out how Christian doctrines of God and soteriology legitimate oppressive conceptions of debt, and, at the same time, can help dismantle capitalism as an all-encompassing social imaginary to which there is no alternative. The second thesis is that as part of reenvisioning contemporary soteriology we must reengage with scriptural, patristic, scholastic, and medieval rabbinic and Islamic conceptions of property, debt, and usury in order to generate robust theological frameworks through which to analyze finance capitalism and the forms of domination it produces. The third thesis is that a vision for a common life must move beyond notions of recognition and redistribution as the basis for a just public life. And the last thesis is that we need to recover a consociational vision of democratic citizenship and a commitment to economic democracy.

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