John Milbank’s “Oikonomia Leaves Home: Theology, Politics, and Governance in the History of the West” appears in Telos 178 (Spring 2017), a special issue on “Original Sin in Modernity.” Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store.
Is there any genealogical connection between Christian oikonomia and modern political economy? Originally the turning of polity into household and interpersonal “pastoral” rule was not sinister but an advance. Likewise the Christian doctrines of Trinity and Incarnation resolved rather than sustained aporias of the reserved versus the economizing deity. However, later developments with the Franciscans, Palamites, and Jansenists effectively undid this resolution, producing a new “gnostic” duality. Economic rule was now sundered from ethics in a fallen world seen as utterly depraved. The heterodox discourse and practice of political economy resulted.