PART ONE: PHILOSOPHICAL FOUNDATIONS
Examines the philosophical foundations for political theory, in particular the theories of knowledge and its limits, the contribution of pragmatic rationalism to morality and politics and the place of religion in in public discourse.
Looks at the purpose of political philosophy with reference to a range of thinkers. These include Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Hobbes, Rutherford, Locke Kant and Burke and Durkheim. Themes include rationality and freedom, order and protection, the dangers of utopianism, social contract theory, utilitarianism and rights theory.
Surveys current secular philosophy with particular reference to theories of autonomy, the philosophy of John Rawls, ideas of relativism and diversity, and legal positivism.
Centres on the theory of natural law and references the contributions of Aristotle, Aquinas, Gratian and Kant. It discusses the ‘argument from design’ and A. J. Ayer’s critique of it, the coherence theory of truth, and the contrast between natural law thinking and utilitarianism. There is also reflection on the idea of historical laws, determinism, free will and evolutionary and behaviourist ethics.
Discusses ideas about human nature, the struggle between good and evil, the role of divine and human laws and notions of the common good, in the context of the truth that Christians believe is revealed in the Bible.
PART TWO: PRINCIPLES OF GOVERNMENT
Chapter 6: Limited Government, Personal Restraint and Welfare
Looks at the role of personal restraint and individual responsibility and their relationship with limited government in the light of a Christian understanding of human nature, with reference to the thinking of Burke and Kuyper. It includes an examination of the extent of the current UK state, in particular the use of data, welfare and the contracting out of utilities.
Is about issues of conscience in the context of non-discrimination laws. It reflects upon the structural weakness and practical limitations of human rights theory and it references the recent cases in the European court. It discusses libertarian theory and suggests that a framework of the ‘common good’ would be a better way of resolving the issues than a focus upon conflicting individual rights. It also touches on the role of the State in Islam and issues of freedom of expression (dealt with more extensively in Chapter 15).
Addresses the theory and practice of the separation of powers, the necessity of impartial justice and natural justice and the extent to which there has been a departure from these principles in the UK, with reference to child protection, criminal justice and the powers of certain regulatory bodies. It also deals with extra-territorial jurisdiction, extradition and access to justice for the poor.
Focuses upon the theory and practice of accountability and democratic principles in government in the Bible and in Christian and secular thought. It also examines the limits of democracy, the requirement for the rule of law with reference to Athenian and other democracies, and the current state of China and the Middle East.
Addresses issues of equality and social justice, particularly in the context of Christian teaching. It looks at different kinds of inequality, the responsibility to share resources, the impact of taxation, the operation of the market and the importance of healthy relationships in society.
PART THREE: POLICY ISSUES
Chapter 11: Human Life
Reflects upon issues arising at the beginning and end of life from a biblical perspective. It discussed personhood and pro-choice theory, abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide and embryonic stem cell research.
Examines theories of crime and punishment in the light of the dynamic power of evil and the imperfection but redeemability of the human condition in the context of free will. It discusses the challenges and benefits of restorative justice, the importance of individual responsibility, age appropriate punishment and the possibility of personal renewal. It also deals with the role of law and law enforcement in contributing to a safe society.
Provides a perspective on the purposes and practice of education in the context of a Christian view of human nature. It addresses issues of moral education and the role of the family in education, and looks at approaches to teaching and learning such as child centred education. It also discusses the contribution of teachers, the role of tests and exams, sex and health education and the teaching of history and science, and reflects upon the role of education in underpinning shared values in society as well as preparing students for their working lives.
Is centred upon issues relating to the family in society and the importance of the family structure for a healthy society. It covers matters such as the position of the family in the natural order, the relationship between the family and the State, different forms of family, marriage and divorce, the rights of children in relation to biological parents, same sex parenting, same sex ‘marriage’ and transgender issues.
Is about the philosophical basis for freedom of expression in society and its proper limits. It addresses the challenges of the internet (including violent pornography and its effect upon crime), restrictions on free speech outside the law and in current and proposed legislation, and reflects upon the importance of free speech to democracy.
PART FOUR: SOCIETY AND THE MARKETS
Discusses the importance of organic communities, issues of social cohesion and common identity, the role of government in facilitating community activity, the interface between the community and the market and the Christian contribution to community.
Addresses the use of money and the allocation of resources, the limitations of free market theory, and the purposes of commerce and the corporate structures that facilitate it. It covers the importance of healthy relationships in business, corporate responsibility and the application to the activities of companies of the ‘Ruggie’ principles in relation to human rights. It examines the role of shareholders in companies, the adequacy of laws and systems of economic governance and the limits of regulation. It sheds light on the structural imperfections of capitalism and its future trajectory in the light of a Christian perspective on the human condition.
Looks at debt in the light of Christian teaching and its effect upon the economy and society. It discusses insolvency procedures for banks and banking reform, and offers a view on alternative funding for enterprise and the role of equity investors. It explores some of the causes of the public and private debt crises and looks at the long term consequences of debt. In particular it reflects upon on the possibilities of inflation, default and repayment, and upon the possible effects of quantitative easing upon the UK currency and economy.
PART FIVE: GLOBAL ISSUES
Offers a perspective on issues of nationality and globalisation, in particular the role of nations, taking into account the inexact correlations between ethnic groups, national cultures and political states. It also looks at economic and other effects of different types of globalisation, transnational organisations and the role of global cooperation.
Explores the theological basis of humankind’s duty to care for the natural environment, the effects of the market, the destruction of the environment, the scientific difficulties with the evidence for man-made climate change as a result carbon dioxide emissions, and the importance of preserving natural habitats.
Covers the issues surrounding international aid, its proper purpose in terms of building sustainable capacity and its limitations with particular reference to ‘weak states’. It looks at the different models for delivering aid, the limitations of public private partnerships in development, aid partnerships, and the role of the church. It also reflects upon unfair trade terms and the importance of audit systems for aid expenditure.
Examines the multiple challenges of foreign policy, including the tensions between national interest, idealism and ‘realpolitik’ in an imperfect world. It touches upon the challenges of the Middle East and examines Christian views in relation to the state of Israel. It emphasises the importance of reconciliation even where there can be no common agreement.
PART SIX: LOOKING AHEAD
Chapter 23: Change and Hope for the Future
Offers a vision of the future and reflects upon the changes which are needed in the light of Christian wisdom to benefit the whole of society.
Reflects upon the requirement for an ultimate source of truth which makes sense of the world we inhabit, and upon the rationality of the Christian message in the light of the human condition and the hope that this can bring to individuals and societies.
Describes the personal relationships that individuals can have with their creator and beliefs that sustain it. The closing words of the book are: “Jesus said that he is the way, the truth and the life. Christianity offers the way and the life because it offers the truth. That truth is based upon the revelation of God in history, as recorded in the Bible, and explains the reality of our life on earth and the world to come.”