The biblical roots of Relational Thinking

creationRelational Thinking is an emerging social paradigm that has its roots in the Jubilee Centre’s reflection on public policy from a biblical perspective. However, it has since been developed further by the Relational organisations which were launched out of the Jubilee Centre over the years (see history page; the best place to survey the big picture is the Relational Thinking Network website).

The following written, video and audio resources provide an introduction and overview to the biblical and theological roots of Relational Thinking; click on the word/minute count to view the resource.  (Note that we formerly referred to this paradigm as Relationism, but this is no longer the preferred term.)

 

Introduction

What is Relational Thinking? by Michael Schluter (1900 words)
This set of notes from the Masterclass in Relational Thinking (2012) begins with a definition of Relational Thinking, considers to what extent it is a Christian approach to public life, provides examples of how it challenges prevailing Western thinking, compares it with Personalism and then introduces the five dimensions of Relational Proximity from a biblical perspective.

The Jubilee Centre as a leading contemporary approach to Old Testament ethics by Christopher Wright (950 words)
Biblical scholar Christopher Wright introduces the Jubilee Centre’s approach alongside Dispensationalism, Theonomism and Messianic Judaism in his survey of contemporary approaches to applying the Old Testament to society today.

 

Articles

How to create a relational society: Foundations for a new social order by Michael Schluter (5200 words)
This Cambridge Paper seeks to answer the question, ‘How do we move towards relational well-being?’ The place where the Bible sets out the foundations required to create a society of right relationships in terms of structures, resources and processes is primarily in the law which God gives to Israel when it is first established as a nation. The paper explores how these institutional norms, as deepened and extended by the rest of biblical teaching, provide the basis for social transformation today.

Beyond Capitalism: Towards a Relational Economy by Michael Schluter (3700 words)
Western societies face economic decline and political instability due in significant part to the five moral flaws of Capitalism and their severe social consequences. A radical new economic vision is urgently needed. This paper proposes a way forward through five strategies: embed relational values, strengthen household balance sheets, empower extended families, engage capital providers and entrust welfare to local communities. These changes are mutually reinforcing because they all reform economic life so as to strengthen personal bonds in the local and wider communities. They point towards the Christian vision of a ‘Relational economy’.

Relational Proximity: a biblical perspective by Guy Brandon (7,800 words)
How does the idea of Relational Proximity fit with the Bible?  The origins of the idea are explained in the video below (‘From the Great Commandment to Relational Proximity’); this article illustrates the five dimensions of the Relational Proximity Framework (RPF) in the biblical narrative, and then describes some of the outcomes – both positive and negative – of various combinations of relational proximity in different kinds of relationship.

 

Booklets

The Jubilee Roadmap by Guy Brandon (10,500 words)
This presents a positively stated vision for society rooted in biblical ideals, which captures the heart of biblical social ethics: right relationships. It summarises the Jubilee Centre’s thinking and strategy, which has contributed substantially to the development of Relational Thinking.

Two perspectives on Christian Social Engagement by Mathias Nebel, Paul Dembinski, Guy Brandon and Michael Schluter (14,300 words)
What do Catholic Social Teaching and Relational Thinking have in common? This booklet is the fruit of a dialogue between proponents of the two perspectives, which compares and contrasts the two schools of thought and shows how they can both complement and enrich each other.

 

Audio

Thinking Relationally about Everything by Michael Schluter (70 minutes)
Dr. Michael Schluter giving the opening lecture of the 2010 London Lectures organised by All Souls and LICC.

Thinking Relationally about Finance by Paul Mills (77 minutes)
Dr. Paul Mills giving the second of 2010 London Lectures organised by All Souls and LICC.

Thinking Relationally about Justice by Jonathan Burnside (76 minutes)
Prof. Jonathan Burnside giving the concluding lecture of the 2010 London Lectures organised by All Souls and LICC.

 

Video

Life begins at 30: taking Jubilee thinking from preparation to impact by Dr Michael Schluter (28 minutes)
Jubilee Centre founder Michael Schluter speaks about the opportunities and challenges facing the Jubilee Centre at its 30th anniversary conference.

From the Great Commandment to Relational Proximity by Dr Michael Schluter (12 minutes)
Dr Michael Schluter sharing the story about how the Relational Proximity tools originated and its relationship the Biblical social vision.

What is the agenda for public life? by Dr Michael Schluter (38 minutes)
Dr Michael Schluter speaking at the Jubilee Centre Summer School – 2016 on how should Christians engage the public sphere based on a biblical vision for society.

 

Books

After Capitalism: rethinking economic relationships by Paul Mills and Michael Schluter (190 pages)
The fall of Communism left Capitalism as the only show in town; as it grows increasingly unfit for purpose, where do we go next? This book (which is a collection of previously-published Cambridge Papers) seeks to rethink the foundations of a market economy and argues that the Bible’s central theme of relationships is the key to rebuilding a system that promotes economic well-being, financial stability and social cohesion.

God, Justice and Society by Jonathan Burnside (540 pages)
The aim of God, Justice, and Society is to explore aspects of law and legality in the Bible and to do so from the perspective of a modern lawyer. Jonathan compares Biblical Law in the Old and New Testament with our modern law and highlights how the latter strongly reflects our individualistic society. This compares very unfavourably with Biblical Law which is fundamentally concerned with relationships and thus with addressing the impact that offences have on the whole community. It might be tempting for non-lawyers to think that this isn’t relevant to them. But any discussion of criminal justice, of dealing with sexual offences and ethics, or consideration of property rights or social welfare, will be better informed as to God’s heart for these issues through reading this book.

The Jubilee Manifesto by Michael Schluter and John Ashcroft (editors) (330 pages)
Subtitled ‘a framework, agenda and strategy for Christian social reform’,  Jubilee Manifesto is a definitive statement of Jubilee Centre’s thinking up to 2004.  It arises from over two decades of serious reflection and practical experience. It presents an alternative to Capitalism, Socialism and other ideologies by identifying relationships as the foundation stone of any society. Ultimately it is the quality of those relationships in families, communities, organisations and between institutions that holds society together and makes life worth living.