Charting a Course for Future Posts

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Sorry to disappoint, but this first post is just my attempt to lay out a sketch for future posts. I graduated from the University of Texas last December and have spent the last 7 months studying contintental philosophy, 20th century theology, and psychoanalysis.

I’ve become especially interested in the last 2 months in strengthening my background in the New Testament, especially studying the historical Jesus research. When I plan to discuss theology, I intend to map out theology that is firmly historical. I think much hope lies in reapplying Schweitzer’s insight of Jesus’ Jewish apocalyptic roots. I believe the Kingdom of God demands more of an explanation than merely being identified either with: a) Heaven (conservative), b) Egalitarian Utopia (liberal). Christianity must recognize its Jewish roots and embrace Jesus’ eschatological expectations or else we’ll fall prey to falling into the antisemitism that pervades the Gospel of John. Here is where I fully embrace much of Altizer’s apocalyptic death-of-God theology.

Also, I’ve found that although current continental theology has appropriated many insights from Derrida, but it lacks useful insights from the likes of Deleuze and Lacan. I don’t quite understand postmodern Christianity’s obession with Derrida, except that he wasn’t so dogmatic in his atheism as many of his fellow countrymen. I hope to be providing extended theological reflection over these 2 thinkers as well. Although, given Lacan’s penchant for being obtuse, it might take extra work to sort out his psychoanalytic insights.

With regards to postmodern theology I’ve become more and more discouraged recently that certain trends in the church (i.e. the emerging church), which has tended to (re)wrap Christianity with a silver bow without actually confronting the challenge deconstruction poses. Too many think all postmodern philosophy offers is a critique of certainty and an embrace of doubt.  Deconstruction is not negative theology! Much of this talk about finding a third way ends up looking like a (post)evangelical failed Hegelian synthesis where they are so fixated on the negation of conservatism that it cannot doubly negate the liberalism they so hope to transcend. Don’t mistake me, I don’t find the Hauerwas or Milbank’s radical orthodoxy attractive alternatives as the answer to the emerging church’s failure. I just fundamentally disagree with Tickle’s thesis in the Great Emergence (of what exactly?), but that’s for another day.

Other themes I hope to explore are Christology, atonement, eschatology, and hermeneutics. I want to bring back into conversation the likes of Pannenberg, Moltmann, Altizer, Mark C Taylor, and liberation theologians.

Finally, I’m tired of Christianity’s failure to embrace psychoanalysis as a helpful conversation partner along the way. I believe that it’s a hasty reading of Freud to assume he was a mere Enlightenment atheist with a critique of religion very much in line with Feuerbach’s (read the Other Freud by DiCenso). So, I plan to post my on reflections on the Death of God in relation to Freud’s myth in Totem and Taboo.
Look forward to this journey, hopefully it’ll be entertaining for some.

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8 Responses to “Charting a Course for Future Posts”

  1. Wesley Says:

    I, for one, am looking forward to this journey. Sometimes (and most unfortunately) philosophy over the phone doesn’t work out quite as well so maybe this will pose as a better alternative? I’m hopeful.

    Just a few thoughts… (Each thought is separated by paragraph.)

    The quest for the Historical Jesus is an interesting one. One of the New Testament professors at Westmont (and also the one I travelled to the Middle East with this summer) is particularly interested in this quest. Maybe when you post about this topic I can bring him in to the conversation?

    Deleuze & Lacan, I’m assuming these are psychoanatlytic types, but who (exactly) are they and what do they have to offer in the realm of Theology and Philosophy? (This among other topics I’m most interested in if it leads to a more full or better understand philosophy.)

    I’ve always had trouble directly equating postmodern theology and the emerging church (which I consider myself part of to some degree). Is the church, or more specifically the emerging church, afraid of Postmodernism to its fullest degree? And do we have any reason to be fearful? (By the way, have you read ‘Beyond Liberalism and Fundamentalism: How Modern and Postmodern Philosophy Set the Theological Agenda’ by Nancey Murphy?)

    Also, though I know you disagreed wholeheartedly with Tickle’s thoughts on ‘Emergence,’ I’d like you to really flesh out those grievances here. I’d love to respond and be in dialogue about that particular book because, from my perspective, it brought framing vision to the emerging church thus far.

    “Too many think all postmodern philosophy offers is a critique of certainty and an embrace of doubt” Are you saying ‘too many’ (I’m assuming Christians) have misjudged postmodern philosophy and therefore stop short of what it offers? Is there another ‘facet’ that remains unseen in Christian theology, and what would this facet be? Is the obsession with Derrida largely to blame for this?

    Anyways. Just some thoughts. I hope you are well. Peace brother.

    Wesley

  2. jbsrh18 Says:

    Yes, I’ve read a handful of books on the Historical Jesus and have a couple of more books to read until I start posting some thoughts. I’ve just read Pannenberg’s Jesus: God and Man, which is his famous work on a ‘Christology from below’.
    Lacan is a psychoanalyst while Deleuze offered some strong critiques of psychoanalysis along with capitalism. I plan on reading his books that deal more with his ontology in Difference and Repetition. Deleuze offers a strong critique of transcendence and Platonism with his belief that transcendence has been the cardinal sin of philosophy. Much along the lines of Nietzsche’s eternal ‘no’ to life that he lamented has ruined a Christianity that has died because of its obsession with life after death.
    I haven’t read Murphy’s book because it tends to be driven by her reflections on analytic philosophy, a type of philosophy I don’t find particularly engaging. Her post-liberal orientation looks similar to Hauewas and Lindbeck’s emphasis on narrative truth and non-foundationalism.
    I don’t think that emerging church=postmodern theology. Postmodern theology is much broader than that. However, the particular theology I have noticed the emerging church adopt has proven to be lacking in robustness. I’ll flesh that out in a later post.
    My issue with Tickle’s book is that she made mention of a parallel between McLaren’s Generous Orthodoxy and Luther’s 95 Theses. Perhaps she did not mention it in this book, but her theses of a revolution every 500 years seems romantic at best, arrogant at worst. Although I didn’t find her writing pretentious, the excitement with which it was promoted by different emergent types struck me as being a tad self-serving. What exactly is emerging? I don’t find the emerging church’s theology revolutionary enough. Again, I’ll return to this later.
    Yes, a critique of foundationalism is a large part of Derrida’s work on language. My point is this aspect looks more or less like negative theology. We cannot construct idols, because ultimately any conception of God falls short of describing his wonder. I’m trying to rethink a new way to understand theology.
    Also, I do admit that we have much to be fearful of from deconstruction. It seems that people have this notion that once we purify our faith of all its blemishes we can reconstruct a more holistic faith. The emerging church seems quick to criticize sola scriptura by supplementing the Bible with other important aspects liturgy, worship, social activism, and other communal activities. However, I fear that by emphasizing other aspects it has failed to embrace a true historically informed understanding of the Bible. I worry that its focus stays on the level of a denial of Biblical inerrancy/infallibility without taking a closer look at Biblical criticism.
    A question I plan on returning to is as much as the emerging church endeavors to distance itself from mainstream/liberal Protestantism, I sometimes fail to understand the difference.
    I believe it’s because much of traditional theology such as hermeneutics, eschatology, Christology, and atonement theories have not been adequately rethought. I’ll be referencing much of the death of God theology and deconstructive theology to offer fresh resources that the emerging church has mostly skirted over

    Jeremy

  3. Emily Says:

    Glad to see this started up, and I look forward to reading along.

  4. mosaictyler Says:

    Glad I found this! Looking forward to what you have to say!

  5. Collin Mac Says:

    I foresee most of this being over my head. Ill try to keep up but I dont have the time to read whats currently on my plate, much less the dozens of books I need to read to have any idea what your talking about.

  6. jbsrh18 Says:

    Theological reflections/schedule:

    atonement III – christus victor/salvation
    atonement IV – girard
    cross – moltmann
    cross – bonhoeffer
    cross – altizer
    historical jesus – misrepresentation/gospel of john
    historical jesus – jesus seminar (crossan/borg)
    historical jesus – apocalyptic prophet
    historical jesus – understanding jesus’ titles
    historical jesus – pannenberg’s christology
    hermeneutics – cherry-picking (gospel emphasis)
    hermeneutics – historically informed
    hermeneutics – jewish understanding/anti-judaism in gospels
    hermenetuics – kingdom of god
    theologians – 19th century liberal
    theologians – barth/bultmann
    theologians – tillich
    theologians – moltmann
    theologians – pannenberg
    theologians – altizer/bonhoeffer
    theologians – mark c taylor
    theologians – feminist/womanist
    theologians – cone/gutierrez
    theologians – hauerwas/yoder
    theologians – radical orthodoxy
    theologians – zizek/hegel
    theologians – caputo/rollins

  7. jbsrh18 Says:

    death of God – bonhoeffer, altizer, freud death of the father/darwin, nietzsche

  8. Reassessing the Purpose of This Blog « JRidenour Says:

    […] the Purpose of This Blog By Jeremy It’s been over half a year since my initial post where I charted the mission of this blog. In retrospect, I can say that I’m pretty happy with […]

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