In recent years levels of poverty not seen since the Great Depression have returned to the UK. Poverty has increasingly become a new defining issue in urban political theologies. Are faith groups called to be pragmatic conduits of the common good – sites of social capital capable of fostering well being in the big society without raising too many awakward questions of government? Alternatively, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it are people of faith called to ram a ‘spoke in the wheel of injustice’? In my recent article for ‘Public Spirit’ I argue that consensual community engagement is not enough in an inherently unequal and unjust society – If God is ‘biased to the oppressed’ then theology becomes a motor for progressive social change and theologians public/political intellectuals.
The African-American activist philsopher Cornel West exemplifies this perspective better than most as the video below reveals. What challenges does West lay at the feet of academics, theologians, people of faith in the UK?