A Month of Radical Theology

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February will be a month of radical theology here at my blog. Starting tomorrow, I will begin a two-week review of Clayton Crockett’s excellent work Interstices of the Sublime: Theology and Psychoanalytic Theory. I will divide the book into six different sections posting a blog post every other day. Next, I will begin doing a book review on my favorite work of Altizer’s, Genesis and Apocalypse (starting Feb 16). This is Altizer’s most mature and systematic apocalyptic theology. I look forward to reviewing the chapters on Barth’s apocalyptic Christology, and Altizer’s analysis of the similarities between Nietzsche and Augustine. Altizer claimed this to be his most deeply Augustinian work. I will split up Genesis and Apocalypses into 7 sections and hopefully finish at the end of the month. After that, I should be blogging my way through Altizer’s obscure work The Self-Embodiment of God. Both Altizer and Mark C. Taylor recognize this to be his greatest work. It’s an attempt to understand Biblical revelation through an analysis of language. Altizer considers this work to be a “meditational and not an academic or scholastic theology”. This will hopefully be completed around the second week of March.

Before I move further I want to answer the question, what is radical theology? Altizer and Hamilton both credit Tillich as the grandfather of radical theology. Although, I suspect Tillich would never embrace such a title, I do think it helps explain Tillich’s rather ambivalent reception by orthodox theologians. Tillich was, first and foremost, an apologist to the intellectuals. He wanted to offer a modern theology that could address man’s needs while also remaining faithful to the tradition. Tillich was never anti-ecclesial. However, he did open up new modes of theological thinking that opened the conditions of possibility for other thinkers to radicalize Tillich’s latent theological insights. In fact, I think this is a helpful place to begin understanding radical theology. Radical theologians are wholly working outside of the church community. Consequently, radical theology has had much freedom in exploring different, often heretical theological insights without the interference of the local congregants. I also think radical theology has reassessed the way in which man understand God after modernism. The death of God has been an important topic for radical theologians. Whether God actually died in history (Altizer) or he has been dissolved into the text (Taylor), or he has been reduced to the call that solicits and calls us unconditionally (Caputo), all have attempted to do theology after the death of the onto-theological God. If this first generation of theologians has rethought our understanding of the concept of God, then the newer generations have tried to construct theologies that  intersect constructively with other disciplines (Goodchild or Crockett) I’m especially inclined to embrace Roland Boer’s understanding of theology. Boer said, “[O]nce we move past the assumption that religious belief [in a god?] is the core or perhaps the overarching unity of theology and realize that it is one part and by no means a necessary one, then theology shows all its other colors. It deals with nature and the environment (creation), with the human condition (anthropology), why the world is the way it is (harmatology), the problem of suffering, the nature of the human subject (via Christology), the nature of history, hopes for the future, how human beings might live together (ecclesiology), and the nature of mythology (the central stories with which theology deals).”

Looking further into the future, Dave, AJ, Robert, and I will do a book review of Santner’s work The Psychotheology of Everyday Life. Starting March 22nd, we will extend the discussion over two weeks. I’m really looking forward to this collaboration, and I hope others will join in on the fun. The book event will be hosted over on Dave’s blog.

For those of you interested, I’m still up to date on Barth’s Church Dogmatics. Right now, though, I must admit being rather bored. Today it dawned on me why it doesn’t generally take the average theologian 9000 pages to write a systematic theology: they tend to not repeat themselves over and over. I’m mostly just frustrated with the pacing right now. Not to mention today Barth claimed that Matthew had better interpreted Jesus’ statement in the Sermon on the Mount where he said “blessed are the poor in spirit”. Luke’s Jesus merely says blessed are the poor. Not only do I not agree theologically with the privileging of Matthew’s text, I also doubt its historical accuracy. If this statement was likely found in the lost gospel Q, what’s more likely that Matthew spiritualized the material or that Luke materialized the spiritual? I think it’s rather obvious. I’m also planning on making time for posts on Deleuze and Lacan especially considering that I’m soon to start reading Deleuze’s The Logic of Sense.

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4 Responses to “A Month of Radical Theology”

  1. cmoody91 Says:

    Looking forward to the Radical Theology month as well as the Book Review in March! Hopefully i can find some time to read along and join the fun.

  2. Radical Theology Announcement « Sola Intellectum Says:

    […] to begin what is sure to be an exciting month-long series on radical theology, beginning with a two-week review of Clayon Crokett’s psychoanalytic engagement with theology entitled Interstices of the Sublime: […]

  3. Book Summaries: Link Post « An und für sich Says:

    […] other recent philosophy/theology books by regular AUFS commenters. Jeremy Ridenour is kicking off a series of poss on Radical Theology, starting off with two posts Clayton Crockett’s Interstices of the Sublime (1 and 2). And […]

  4. Two Announcments « Sola Intellectum Says:

    […] review of On the Psychotheology of Everyday Life: Reflections of Freud and Rosenweig along with Jeremy, Dave, and Robert around the middle to the end of March. More information as to the exact timing, […]

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