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Summary of “The Politics of God”

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     The essay “The Politics of God,” by Mark Lilla is a New York Times article that was adapted from his book “The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics and the Modern West. The article discusses the evolution and role that political theology plays in the modern world. This essay will discuss two parts in Lilla’s article called miracles and the opposite shore.

     In miracles, Lilla discusses how political theology evolved in Europe and America, despite all the changes that occurred in western societies such as the separation of church and state, secularization, and democratization. The author discusses differences between the American and European experience, in that over time American’s faith in religion has remained remarkably strong, while European’s faith in religion has gradually declined.

Lilla then questions whether modernization and secularization will cause the death of political theology or will political theology continue to remain a threat which can manifest itself into political identities such as fascism. Later the author discusses the role Muslim immigration plays in political theology, which can be problematic since Muslims come from societies governed by Islamic laws, which is the theme of the opposite shore.

     In the opposite shore, the author discusses the reality, that as Muslim societies modernize they will go through a decline in their faith like some western societies have.  Lilla then illustrates that political theology is adaptive with a few Muslim scholars calling for liberal Islamic political theology, which can easily adjust to modern society.

Lilla also discusses how adaptation is possible for Muslims, as it was in Christianity when theologians, such as Martin Luther developed theological reasoning, which allowed Christians to adapt to modern life. Lila finally notes that some Muslims scholars prefer societies where Islamic laws can be adapted to modern life by interpreting Islamic law to fit into modern society, rather than separating church and state as in western societies.


Lila, Mark. “The Politics of God.” New York Times Magazine 19 August 2007.

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