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Anglicanism and Social Theology

Wendy Dackson


Our Anglican heritage has deep roots in pre-Reformation English Christianity. In the following, I identify four major pre-Reformation contributions to this tradition of social theology. The first is the care for place evident in the liturgical advice of Gregory the Great to Augustine of Canterbury. The second is the concept of restitutive justice that is held up in the writings of Anselm as a model of good earthly justice. I then turn to an implicit critique of clerical privilege that can be derived from the Thomas Becket event. The fourth and final element is the church’s interest in and responsibility for good government, which is indicated in the Magna Carta of 1215. Our post-Reformation history yields three main questions concerning social theology: our theology of, for, and in society. I have proposed that these three questions are largely answered in order by Richard Hooker, Thomas Arnold, and William Temple together with Rowan Williams.

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