Title page for ETD etd-0128103-124914

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Herndon, Jeffrey Charles
URN etd-0128103-124914
Title Voegelin's History of Political Ideas and the Problem of Christian Order: A Critical Appraisal
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
G. Ellis Sandoz Committee Chair
Cecil Eubanks Committee Member
Eugene Wittkopf Committee Member
James Stoner Committee Member
Kent Mathewson Dean's Representative
  • homonoia
  • sacrum imperium
  • christianity
  • reformation
  • voegelin
Date of Defense 2002-12-19
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation will analyze the problem of Christian political order in light of Eric Voegelin’s History of Political Ideas. The great weakness in Voegelin, according to many critics, was his failure to deal with the historical appearance of Jesus of Nazareth and to fully examine the implications of Christianity for human beings in their political and social existence. The completed publication of the History of Political Ideas now offers the opportunity for a more complete assessment of Voegelin’s position with regard to the problem of Christian political order. The History contains his most comprehensive treatment of Christianity, in terms of both the experience of faith and the institutionalization of religion in the church. It is in the inherent tension between the experience of faith and the institutionalization of the spirit in the church that the problem of Christian political order is revealed.

The analysis contained herein will focus upon the tension between a spiritual phenomena based on faith in the Pauline sense and the institutionalization of that experience in the immanent representative of the church. Christian political order was premised upon a series of compromises with the realities of human existence, both spiritual and immanent, made by Paul at the inception of the Christian community. The dissertation will demonstrate that it was in the retreat and abandonment of those compromises that Christian political order as represented by the sacrum imperium, the political idea that was at the heart of Western civilization until the Great Reformation, came undone.

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