Fortress Press

Truth and Politics: A Theological Comparison of Joseph Ratzinger and John Milbank

Truth and Politics

A Theological Comparison of Joseph Ratzinger and John Milbank

Peter Samuel Kucer (Author)

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One of the perennial questions in political theology is how the concept of truth is defined and how such is grounded theologically. The answer to this determines, to a great degree, theological engagement with and appropriations of political systems and theological accounts of political and social order. Truth and Politics tackles this crucial question through an analysis and comparison of the thought of two of the most important contemporary Catholic and Protestant theologians, Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) and John Milbank.
Peter Samuel Kucer here traces out the critical question of the relationship of theology and politics, particularly as it intersects with ecclesiology, through a focus on the issue of the theological relationship to socialism. In this, Kucer demonstrates the competing accounts in the theologies of Joseph Ratzinger and John Milbank, arguing that Ratzinger’s theology is oriented in such a way that it maintains a provisional openness with regard to political forms—that theology and politics, while interconnected, do not demand commitment to a singular form of political model—in contrast to Milbank’s work, which subscribes to a particular pattern of church and politics.
  • ISBN 9780800699963
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 224
  • Emerging Scholars category Theology
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Publication Date August 1, 2014


1. Ratzinger on Truth as Essentially Uncreated: Correspondence and the Analogy of Being
2. Ratzinger on Truth as Illuminated and Mediated
3. Milbank on Truth as Created: Correspondence and the Analogy of Creation
4. Milbank on Truth as Illuminated and Mediated
5. Ratzinger and Milbank Compared
6. Ratzinger’s Theology of Politics and Milbank’s Political Theology


"Truth and Politics by Fr. Joseph Kucer is a brilliant work. The scholarly acumen of the author succeeds in offering a provocative opening of new avenues of exploration in theology and philosophy concerning issues of the relationship of the church and politics. This book is to be recommended to intellectual Christians as a path to the overcoming of stale polarizations of the past."
—Ronda Chervin
Holy Apostles College and Seminary

"Father Peter Kucer has helped me to think through the fascinating concurrences between the theo-political thought of Joseph Ratzinger and John Milbank precisely by a thorough examination of their polar responses to Giambattista Vico's account of truth. What is most subtle and interesting about the work is that Kucer manages to bring the two theologians into a remarkable theological and political harmony despite serious disagreements concerning the nature of truth.  And in an ecumenically alluring turn, Kucer suggests that Milbank is subtly revising his view of truth to align not with Vico but with Ratzinger. The overall result, however, is to help us imagine how we can break out of the debilitating effects of nominalism on our theological and political imaginations and to break back into real participation in the good, the true, and the beautiful.  Recommended!"
—C.C. Pecknold
The Catholic University of America

"Truth and Politics, by its sharp contrast of Benedict and Milbank on the nature of truth, manages to open an important dialogical moment in Plato’s war between the poets and the philosophers. Quite apart from political ramifications, the question is whether Christianity, by favoring practical intellect in the divine creation, doesn’t introduce an inescapably creative dimension into the human expression of 'eternal' truths of any sort. We are pointed intriguingly beyond Milbank and Ratzinger, and I recommend this book as a first step."
—Roger Duncan
Fairfield University


Review in Freedom and Orthodoxy blog