Current theological streams informing Christian understandings of law and ethics in relation to Islam

Rev. Dr Richard Sudworth
Tutor, The Queen’s Foundation Birmingham & Part-time Parish Priest

A brief overview of classical Christian understandings of law and ethics is presented, charting the key biblical texts and trajectories in Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin and Hooker. These are significant streams of thought which resurface and indicate ongoing emphases within contemporary accounts of law and ethics.

Richard then offers an account of current Christian visions of law and ethics through analysing the contributions of three Anglican theologians: Rowan Williams, John Milbank, and Oliver O’Donovan. It is apparent that each of their respective dialogues with Islam replay earlier Christian debates over the nature of government, the law, and metaphysical notions of nature, reason, and the “good”.

While all three theologians represent a current in Christian ethics that can broadly be described as an “ecclesial turn”, their differences suggest that the simplistic dichotomy that posits Christianity as a religion of grace, as against Islam as a religion of law is untenable.