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Las Casas Lecture 2015 by Professor Denys Turner

Monday 26th October 2015

Las Casas Lecture 2015 by Professor Denys Turner

The 7th November 2015 marks the beginning of a year of special events to mark the 800th anniversary of the foundation of the Dominican Order. Many events are marking this Jubilee Year, and the Las Casas Institute is organising a whole series dedicated to ‘Truth Telling’.  To open this series Las Casas Annual Lecture was given by Professor Denys Turner (currently of Yale University) on the fascinating and far-reaching title: ‘The Price of Truth: Herbert McCabe on Love, Politics and Death’.

Starting from an analysis of Herbert’s epistemology that the intellect sees depths in things that fill out, enrich and deepen what our senses and experience tell us, he explained that therefore we get to the truth of things through and in their materiality, and not by thinning this out into mere concepts.  The created order and so politics matter. However, getting to the truth of politics is hard since the world, contaminated by sin, makes itself the centre of things and so pushes God and religious truth to the margins.  It did this most dramatically in the case of Jesus, actually killing him. This expresses the use made of death by the world to keep the world of sin enthroned. The death and resurrection of Jesus - the full expression of the love of God - have defeated this. However, salvation will only come fully at the Eschaton. For now, Christians still live on the margins bearing witness to the world about the truth that can save it. Undertaking such witness and such activity, especially when focussed upon justice, is to be politically engaged in a prophetic way.  As witnesses to the truth, including that of politics, Christians are to live as martyrs, giving of themselves in love unto death, in the power of the death of Jesus and fed by the Eucharist, whether or not the world actually kills them or not.

Professor Turner’s account of truth and truth telling, at once both intellectual and moral, as found in the work of an English Dominican, was rich and worthwhile in itself, and has laid an excellent foundation for the Jubilee year of events on truth telling in different spheres of life.