A Religious Theory of Voluntary Associations

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Fri, 03/01/1991
End Date: 
Fri, 12/31/1993

James Luther Adams was an American theologian and religious social ethicist of the 20th century who consistently argued for the importance of voluntary associations to liberal democracy. George W. Pickering of the University of Detroit and J. Ronald Engel of Meadville/Lombard Theological School examined the relevance of Adams’ work in order to develop a religious theory of voluntary associations. Following up from an earlier project on “James Luther Adams and the Democratic Prospect,” this study adopted a two-pronged approach; while focusing on developing an intellectual biography of Adams, it also sought to examine the weaknesses and strengths of Adams’ theology of voluntary associations in order to promote democratic citizenship in the face of global ecological and social crises. Engel and Pickering shared their findings in a special issue of <i>American Journal of Theology and Philosophy</i> (January, 1996); the entire issue, guest edited by Engel, explored Adams’ relevance to contemporary religious and political liberalism.

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