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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Radical Orthodoxy: A Critical Introduction

I've finished Radical Orthodoxy: A Critical Introduction by Steven Shakespeare. Here's a bit from the almost end .....


(pp. 164-5) ... Milbank in particular has insisted on a traditional understanding of God as 'pure act', with no unfulfilled potential. There can be no lack in God, only fullness, if God is not to be made into the sickly mirror image of our own striving. Milbank therefore strongly opposes any idea that God can suffer ....Milbank holds that God 'experiences nothing of evil ... does not in any way suffer, acts without fear in the world' (WMS, p. 229). Only so can God overcome our slavery to death.

However, it is far from clear that all ideas of God's compassion need result in this kind of caricature of the sympathetic counselor in the sky. For God to allow himself to be affected by creation can be seen as an expression of divine freedom, as strengthening the dignity and worth of creation. God takes the risk of creating life other than his own, life which is fragile, mortal and tempted to evil .....

(pp. 177-8) ... The Christian God is made up of relationships, and the giving and receiving of love. Compassion is not alien to the Trinity. And the fact of the world, of there being something which is not God, invites us to imagine how God enjoys and suffers creation.

Radical Orthodoxy is right to warn us against the constant temptation to project all-too-human ideas of existence and relationship on to God. If God becomes nothing more than the reflection of our own insecurities and desires, then God is little more than an idol. However, this does not mean that classical ideas of God's self-sufficiency and immunity from change and suffering can simply be allowed to pass without challenge. It is ironic that a theology which sets so much store by theology's ability to take over all of philosophy's functions should still be so under the spell of Plato and the Greeks.

It is important to ask what difference creation, sin, history, incarnation and resurrection make to God, even if we are aware that our words are broken and fumbling. The God of the Bible and Christian tradition longs for his beloved, is grieved by sin. Through Christ, God takes on himself the vulnerability of the servant and is exposed to the reality of death. The Spirit is sent to be an ongoing guide for the Church in its geographical, historical and cultural journeying. In other words, God doesn't remain confined within the borders of our definitions of what is appropriate to the divine, any more than the father of the prodigal son bowed to the dictates of convention when running to meet his lost offspring on the road (Luke 15.20), or Jesus kept himself separate from the dirt, pain and celebration of human life. The scriptural stories do not offer a metaphysical blueprint of God, but they must inform a Christian understanding of God's nature. Perhaps one of the great weaknesses of Radical Orthodoxy is its inattention to this biblical challenge.

The Christian community that is formed in response to this revelation is called to embody a living compassion for and solidarity with creation. If it works toward mutuality and reconciliation between its members, it cannot turn its back on the world. As Ward suggests, it must always risk itself beyond its borders. That risk entails the possibility that it will have to learn its own wounds, how it has caused violence to and received grace from others. Radical Orthodoxy is too ready to gloss over the ambiguities and failings of the premodern Church, and so has not done enough to convince its feminist and liberationist critics that it really has learnt the lessons of imperialism and patriarchy. A discipline of compassion might prevent us from rushing in to categorize people and tell their story for them, and free us to learn new lessons about how deep and wide the freedom of the gospel runs. Radical Orthodoxy itself has proved capable of moving beyond the established traditions of the Church to open up a more inclusive stance towards same-sex unions. Perhaps it needs to reflect upon what has motivated this move - one likely to make it deeply unpopular in conservative Christian quarters.

Compassion is therefore not a weak masochism, but a mature, confident humanity. It does not wish away the realities of human mortality and fear with speculative doctrines, but lives with and learns from them. An ethic of compassion does not mean applying sticking plaster to the world's pains, but entering into them creatively, discerning the power of resurrection to transform lives and situations. However, to proclaim resurrection cannot mean to bypass the passion and cross, and the silence of the tomb.



Anonymous Victor said...

I think this post might be of help to my Hotel of Fools, if you know what I mean?

Well crystal, I don't know if you've ever had the time and/or strength to read some of the skits that sinner vic has conscienced me into writing but between you and me I've given everything to Our Lord and Savior Jesus The Christ and asked HIM to spare me the trouble but some of my spiritual/reality cells for some reason(s) still seem to want to follow these imaginary friends of mine from The Hotel of Fools and who am I to tell them what to do? :)

IT's not funny Victor and I wish I could wipe that smile from your face right now, if you know what I mean?

"NO!" I don't "NO" what you mean sinner vic and please don't tell U>S cause you're off topic again and I'm sure that Crystal and her readers have better things to do than listen to a bunch of skitsos, especially on Holloween Night.

Ok Victor, I'll try and make "IT" short if I can! Those two Alpha Boys are deternined to become your gods and "IT" is not funny anymore cause they won't let any body sit on the throne any longer and their are feces all over the place making "IT".............

Ok Stop "IT" right there sinner vic, What part of "NO" didn't you understand? You're not going to spoil Holloween for Christal, I mean crystal and her readers if I can help "IT".

Fine, if "IT" will keep you quiet for NOW, I'll write about "IT" sometime before I close my blog cause some body has got to write "IT" and you guys don't have a licence to drive people crazy in this world! Do ya? :)

Now in the mean time and as we all know time can often be pretty mean but if I could just see a burning bush "IT" might be of help!

I hear ya! You're beyond help Victor!

Really! You think?

Happy Holloween to you too. :)

God Bless Peace

1:46 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Victor,

Happy halloween :)

6:25 PM  

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