Symposium Introduction


Peter Iver Kaufman
Malinda Elizabeth Barry
Chris Huebner
Samuel Adams
Kristin Deede Johnson


Political theology as a normative discourse has been controversial not only for secular political philosophers who are especially suspicious of messianic claims but also for Jewish and Christian thinkers who differ widely on its meaning. These essays mount an argument for a “Messianic Political Theology” rooted in an interpretation of biblical (especially Pauline), Augustinian, and Radical Reformation readings of messianism as a thoroughly political and theological vision that gives rise to what the author calls “Diaspora Ethics.” In conversation also with Platonic, Jewish, and Continental thinkers, Kroeker argues for an exilic practice of political ethics in which the secular is built up theologically “from below” in the form of public service that flows from messianic political worship. Such a “weak messianic power” practiced by the messianic body inhabits an apocalyptic political economy in which the mystery of love and the mystery of evil are agonistically unveiled together in the power of the cross—not as an instrument of domination but in the form of the servant. This is not simply a matter of “pacifism” but of a messianic posture rooted in the renunciation of possessive desire that pertains to all aspects of everyday human life in the household (oikos), the academy, and the polis.

Endorsements & Reviews

“Kroeker pursues a style of radical theological reflection at once intellectually sophisticated and spiritually profound: there is much to learn here of the difficult and patient labor of living out a Christian particularity that, in love and dispossession, foreswears both isolation from and conformity with our nihilistic age for the sake of a better gospel witness. These essays represent an invaluable Anabaptist contribution to contemporary political theology and ethics.”
–Philip G. Ziegler, King’s College, University of Aberdeen

“For those of us who have been eagerly anticipating a synthetic expression of Travis Kroeker’s mature vision, this compelling volume is a rich and challenging gift that has definitely been worth the wait! Thoroughly embedding quotidian matters in an apocalyptic frame, he vividly displays new ways of thriving in diaspora with exquisite care and literary flair. It is not too much to claim that, through this volume, Kroeker has become one of the most substantial and relevant neo-Anabaptist (and yet Augustinian!) voices of our generation.”
–Paul Martens, Baylor University, author of The Heterodox Yoder

“As these lively and learned essays splendidly demonstrate, the messianic is above all about the world we live in. It exposes the presumption that our lives in the world must be determined by sovereignty, mastery, and possession and opens the possibility of freedom for service to the world in discipleship to its crucified Lord. Engaging Paul and Plato, Augustine and the Anabaptists, Benjamin and Badiou, and many others, Kroeker sketches an alternative lineage of Christian political theology that deserves the closest attention of everyone who works in the field or cares about it. I enthusiastically recommend it.”
–Gerald McKenny, University of Notre Dame

“Incisive and profound, this collection of essays gives remarkable content to the concepts of ‘messianic political theology’ and ‘diaspora ethics’. Kroeker’s distinctive voice, presented here in the fruit of over two decades of scholarship, is unparalleled in its attunement to and critical engagement of the contributions of Augustine, Paul, Yoder, and Dostoevsky to political theology and Christian ethics. No one names better the nature of true power and the kenotic, penitential character of discipleship. Necessary reading for those interested in the political thought of Augustine and Yoder (among many others), political theology in general, and anyone seeking a visionary way of naming the difference God makes to human life.”
–Carolyn Chau, King’s University College at Western University

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