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

On the 13th May 2015, Al-Mahdi Institute held a Research seminar on the topic of; “Current theological streams informing Christian understandings of law and ethics in relation to Islam” conducted by Revd. Dr Richard Sudworth from the Queens Foundation of Ecumenical Theological Studies. The seminar was attended by AMI students, faculty and interested members of the public.

An abstract of his paper reads; “I will trace the contours of Christian attitudes to law in the earliest tradition, reflecting on the common misplaced assumption that Christianity is a religion of grace while Islam is a religion of law. An examination of some of the core traditions will help us to distinguish the nuances of natural law, civil law, and moral law, and how they function in relation to a Christian eschatology. This brief analysis will then frame the background to an examination of Rowan Williams, John Milbank, and Oliver O’Donovan: Christian theologians who have dialogued with Islam in reflecting on the place of law in Christian understanding.”

Dr Sudworth also used the following books to illustrate his theory;

St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1275), Summa Theologiae, On Kingship

Martin Luther (1483-1546), Temporal Authority: To What Extent it Should beObeyed

John Calvin (1509-1564), Institutes of the Christian Religion

Richard Hooker (1554-1600), Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity

Alasdair MacIntyre – After Virtue, 1981

Rowan Williams and “Interactive Pluralism”, “Civil and Religious Law in England: a Religious Perspective”, 2008

John Milbank and “Catholic” Unity in Diversity, Theology and Social Theory, 1990, “Multiculturalism in Britain and the Political Identity of Europe”, 2009, “Shari’a and the True Basis of Group Rights: Islam, the West, and Liberalism”, 2010

Oliver O’Donovan and the Judgment of the Law, The Desire of the Nations, 1996, The Ways of Judgment, 2005

For more detailed information on the seminar, please click here.


Revd. Dr Richard Sudworth (Queens Foundation of Ecumenical Theological Studies)