[Thesis]. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester; 2016.
This thesis explores Gustavo GutiÃ©rrezâ€Ÿs and John Milbankâ€Ÿs articulations of the doctrine
of creation, with a view to developing a criterion that can be used to inform our
understanding and evaluation of Christian charities that address homelessness and
operate in contemporary British civil society. Milbank and GutiÃ©rrezâ€Ÿs works both
ask questions of the peace or life that can be instituted through charitable practices.
They also develop, from the doctrine of creation, their own theological accounts of
social and political orders, normative anthropologies, and accounts of the interpersonal.
For both Milbank and GutiÃ©rrez, the doctrine of creation maintains a paradox: the
internality and externality of the created world in relation to God. Part One of this
thesis explores these respective accounts of charity and creation, noting the strengths
and limitations of each position. Part One ends with a qualified endorsement of GutiÃ©rrezâ€Ÿs
theology and defends the utility of the criterion he deploys in his work to judge
the task of theology and praxis of the church: integral liberation.The second part
of this thesis progresses in three steps. First, I put forward a theological methodology
which is attentive to the logic of theo-political language and our current neoliberal
socio-political order. I argue that it is prudent to think of political theology as
a counter-hegemonic discourse, and in dialogue with Ernesto Laclau and Chantel Mouffe,
Francis SchÃ¼ssler Fiorenza and GutiÃ©rrez, I explore and endorse political theology
as spiral in character. I go on to extend Laclau and Mouffeâ€Ÿs analysis of neoliberalism
by developing and defending the hypothesis: 'charities are dual'. By engaging with
the work of Frank Prochaska, this section argues that charities are both religious
and political, as well as being both internal and external to the state apparatus.
Furthermore, I contend that charities constitute and ameliorate the social exclusion
attributed to homelessness, and that selfless giving, under the current circumstances,
is internal to a process of volunteer self-making. By attending to the dualities of
homelessness charities, this part of the thesis sets charities in their current context
and proposes an elective affinity between current charitable practices and the hegemony
of neoliberalism.At the end of the thesis, I return to the doctrine of creation and
ask how attention to this doctrinal locus can help us to move homelessness charities
beyond their dependence on the existence of homeless people, and their embeddedness
in our current neoliberal arrangement. I argue that charities, and civil society more
broadly, have an important role to play in envisioning and establishing a theo-politics
of common life.To do so, I contend that we need to articulate a robust account of
the role of the state, must defend human rights, nurture egalitarian and non-hierarchical
charitable practices, be attentive to what the homeless can teach charities and volunteers
about our current order, and reform aspects of charitable law. In each of these cases,
I defend a paradoxical politics of integral liberation. In summary, this thesis aims
to make an original contribution to the growing body of literature that explores homelessness
and theology by coordinating the paradox of creation, the duality of charity, and
the double truths of neoliberalism.