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If You Render Unto God What Is God's, What Is Left for Caesar?

  • William T. Cavanaugh


I must begin by expressing my deep appreciation to Paul Rowe for bringing my work on theopolitics before a different audience than the ones to which I am accustomed and for bringing his own expertise in political science and political theory to bear on my writings. The depth and incisiveness of his critique provide me an opportunity to rethink and clarify my ideas. It also gives me the opportunity to prove that I do not deserve being mentioned in the same sentence as Che Guevara and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi!



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1 Giddens, Anthony, The Nation-State and Violence (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), 3560.

2 Quoted in Hobsbawm, E. J., Nations and Nationalism since 1760: Programme, Myth, Reality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 44.

3 Hastings, Adrian, The Construction of Nationhood: Ethnicity, Religion, and Nationalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

4 Greenfeld, Liah, Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992).

5 Cavanaugh, William T., “Killing for the Telephone Company: Why the Nation-State Is Not the Keeper of the Common Good,” Modern Theology 20, no. 2 (April 2004): 266–67.

6 See Cavanaugh, William T., The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), chap. 3.

7 Hobsbawm, Eric, “Introduction: Inventing Traditions,” in The Invention of Tradition, ed. Hobsbawm, Eric and Ranger, Terence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 12.

8 Marvin, Carolyn and Ingle, David, “Blood Sacrifice and the Nation,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 64, no. 4 (Winter 1996): 767. It is worth noting that Marvin and Ingle wrote this before the surge in patriotism following the attacks of September 11, 2001. This article is a brief synopsis of Marvin, and Ingle's, fascinating book Blood Sacrifice and the Nation: Totem Rituals and the American Flag (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

9 Marvin and Ingle, “Blood Sacrifice and the Nation,” 769.

10 Bacevich, Andrew J., American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002).

11 Dueck, Colin, Reluctant Crusaders: Power, Culture, and Change in American Grand Strategy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), 26.

12 See for example, ibid., 1–2; Bacevich, American Empire, 198–244; Singh, Robert, “The Bush Doctrine,” in The Bush Doctrine and the War on Terrorism: Global Responses, Global Consequences, ed. Buckley, Mary and Singh, Robert (London: Routledge, 2006), 13.

13 George W. Bush, “Remarks by the President at the Twentieth Anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy.” [Online] Available:

14 See Bacevich, Andrew J., The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).

15 MacIntyre, Alasdair, “A Partial Response to My Critics,” in After MacIntyre: Critical Perspectives on the Work of Alasdair MacIntyre, ed. Horton, John and Mendus, Susan (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1994), 303.

16 Schmitt, Carl, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. Schwab, George (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985), 36. It should be obvious that I do not share Schmitt's conclusion that the state should enhance its divine character and marginalize the divisive influence of the Church.

17 See Murray, John Courtney, We Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1960), 5–24, 45–78.

18 Budde, Michael, The Two Churches: Catholicism and Capitalism in the World-System (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992), 115.

19 Bellah, Robert et al., Habits of the Heart (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985); Putnam, Robert, Bowling Alone (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000); Hardt, Michael, “The Withering of Civil Society,” Social Text 14, no. 4 (Winter 1995): 2745; Council on Civil Society, A Call to Civil Society: Why Democracy Needs Moral Truths (Chicago: Council on Civil Society, 1998).

20 Nisbet, Robert, The Quest for Community (London: Oxford University Press, 1953), 102–9.

21 Marvin and Ingle, “Blood Sacrifice and the Nation,” 769.

22 Cavanaugh, William T., Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2008).

23 Cavanaugh, William T., “Pilgrim People,” in Gathered for the Journey: Moral Theology in Catholic Perspective, ed. McCarthy, David Matzko and Lysaught, M. Therese (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2007), 88105, and William T. Cavanaugh, “The Sinfulness and Visibility of the Church: A Christological Exploration” in Proceedings of the 2007 Leuven Encounters in Systematic Theology (Leuven: Peeters, forthcoming).

24 Rowe cites my first two books and six articles or chapters, two of which are wholly incorporated into the second book. In 2008, when his article was submitted to the Review of Politics, I had published 25 articles in scholarly journals, and another 17 chapters in edited volumes, in addition to dozens of articles and interviews in less academic venues.

25 See Cavanaugh, William T., “At Odds with the Pope: Legitimate Authority and Just Wars,” Commonweal 130, no. 10 (May 23, 2003): 1113; and “From One City to Two: Christian Reimagining of Political Space,” Political Theology 7, no. 3 (July 2006): 299–321

26 Cavanaugh, Being Consumed, viii.

27 See for example, Cavanaugh, William T., “Church,” in The Blackwell Companion to Political Theology, ed. Cavanaugh, William T. and Scott, Peter (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2003), 393–406 and “From One City to Two,” cited above.

28 It should be obvious as well that I am just as averse to national churches as is Rowe.

29 For a genealogy of the temporal, see Cavanaugh, William T., Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics, and the Body of Christ (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998), 216–21; and “From One City to Two,” 308–15.


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