The Church, Authority, and Foucault : Imagining the Church as an Open Space of Freedom book cover
1st Edition

The Church, Authority, and Foucault
Imagining the Church as an Open Space of Freedom

ISBN 9781472474964
Published February 10, 2017 by Routledge
190 Pages

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USD $180.00

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Book Description

The Church, Authority, and Foucault addresses the problem of the Church’s enmeshment with sovereign power, which can lead to marginalization. Breaking new ground, Ogden uses Foucault’s approach to power and knowledge to interpret the church leader’s significance as the guardian of knowledge. This can become privileged knowledge, under the spell of sovereign power, and with the complicity of clergy and laity in search of sovereigns. Inevitably, such a culture leads to a sense of entitlement for leaders and conformity for followers. All in the name of obedience.

The Church needs to change in order to fulfil its vocation. Instead of a monarchy, what about Church as an open space of freedom? This book, then, is a theological enterprise which cultivates practices of freedom for the sake of the other. This involves thinking differently by exploring catalysts for change, which include critique, space, imagination, and wisdom. In the process, Ogden uses a range of sources, analysing discourse, gossip, ritual, territory, masculinity, and pastoral power. In all, the work of Michel Foucault sets the tone for a fresh ecclesiological critique that will appeal to theologians and clergy alike.

Table of Contents

1 The Church and the problem of sovereign power

2 Under Foucault’s gaze: the subject, freedom, and the power-knowledge concept

3 The concept of authority: guardians, gossip, and the sovereign exception

4 The spell of monarchy and the sacralization of obedience

5 The Church as an open space of freedom

6 New spaces and the imagination

7 Bearing the lightning of possible storms: critique, space, imagination, wisdom

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Steven G. Ogden is the Rector of Holy Trinity Church, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, and adjunct lecturer in theology at Charles Sturt University, Australia. Formerly Principal of St Francis Theological College, Brisbane, and Dean of St Peter’s Cathedral, Adelaide, he is the author of The Presence of God in the World: A Contribution to Postmodern Christology based on the Theologies of Paul Tillich and Karl Rahner (2007).


"The book is thoroughly researched and closely argued. It requires, but also rewards, a close reading. Some readers will find themselves pushed far outside their comfort zones, but this is a sign of a book worth struggling with. It is a struggle that may leave us as a Church limping, but also empower us to cross over with confidence into a place of renewal. This book shows Stephen Ogden to be one of our most exciting and provocative contemporary Australian theologians. All Australian Anglicans should read it." Duncan Reid, The Melbourne Anglican, September 2017

"It is very often the ‘slim volumes’ that most daringly and effectively carry the charge of provocative new ideas. This new book… both promises and threatens to fill just this role. It is a serious and carefully thought out critique of the culture of the Anglican Church of Australia and its agencies." Duncan Reid, Trinity College Theological School, Melbourne in Pacifica

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