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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 47, Issue 3, July 2021

Religious Diversity, Political Theory, and Theology: Public Reason and Christian Theology

Paul BillinghamOrcid-ID
Pages 519-547

Can Christians Join the Overlapping Consensus?
Prospects and Pitfalls for a Christian Justification of Political Liberalism

The success of political liberalism depends on there being an overlapping consensus among reasonable citizens—including religious citizens—upon principles of political morality. This paper explores the resources within one major religion—Christianity—that might lead individuals to endorse (or reject) political liberalism, and thus to join (or not join) the overlapping consensus. I show that there are several strands within Christian political ethics that are consonant with political liberalism and might form the basis for Christian citizens’ membership of the overlapping consensus. Nonetheless, tensions remain, and it is not clear that Christians could wholeheartedly endorse the political conception or give unreserved commitment to political liberal ideals.

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