“John Milbank’s Theology and Social Theory dazzles most scholars with its immense learning and broad-ranging discussions in contemporary social theory. Yet, as Fergus Kerr has put it, its argument is ‘simplicity itself’: there is no need, as has become commonplace, to bring social theory and theology together, for social theory is already theology, and theology already a social theory. Kerr, whose summary of Milbank’s complicated book received approval of the author himself, recommends a reading strategy that begins with the last chapter.

“Here, under the title ‘The Other City: Theology as Social Science’, Milbank’s Augustinian intentions become quite obvious. Here he wants to argue for theology itself as a social science, an aid and guide for the ‘inhabitants of the alterna civitas, on a pilgrimage through this temporary world’. Milbank writes:

“Theology has frequently sought to borrow from elsewhere a fundamental account of society or history, and then to see what theological insights will cohere with it. But it has been shown that no such fundamental account, in the sense of something neutral, rational and universal, is really available. It is theology itself that will have to provide its own account of the final causes at work in human history, on the basis of its own particular and historically specific faith.” (Milbank, Theology and Social Theory, 380)

From “Judicious narratives’, or ethnography as ecclesiology.” Christian Batalden Scharen. SJT 58(2): 125–142 (2005).