In a recent interview, Graham Ward offers a thought provoking anti-Wittgensteinian and anti-Barthian comment on how theology is done and what this means for our practical lives.

Theology has no language of its own because we have no object that can we just simply claim. God isn’t an object in the world, so theology always has to borrow its language from other things. So, you know, while it has things which are ultimately significant for life unless it engages with just the ordinary stuff, the daily bread, if you like, then its not really dealing with life at all, its dealing with its own fantasies.

The practical implications of this view lead to an intensified engagement of material, political realities.

Our vocations are here and we’re here in all the mess and fuck up that’s actually here. That means that we’ve got to be engaged and any engagement is political. That means political engagements at party levels, even though there are difficulties and in some ways compromises. Nonetheless, engagement is necessary and education is necessary.

That is, there is no clear demarcation of where God’s speech begins and humanity’s ends; no clear line drawn where human action begins and where God intervenes. For Ward, this is a basic Thomistic principle: “God is not known to us in His nature, but is made known to us from His operations” (ST, 1.Q13.8, quoted in Christ and Culture, 1). Further, Good theology reminds us that our political engagements are always “tempered by the awareness that we’re moving towards judgment – an awareness that this is contingent and that we’re dealing with certain forms of ignorance. To me this is straight Augustine, it’s just Civitas Dei.”

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