Tracy’s Blessed Rage for Order Part I


I’m going to offer some reflections on Tracy’s Blessed Rage for Order. I’ll admit that I found this book incredibly boring. I understand it is an important work of theology, but the entire work is focused on theological methodology. Not one of my favorite topics. I’m going to focus on the five different models of doing theology that Tracy outlines in Chapter 2. According to Tracy, all theologies must interpret two things: 1) Christian tradition and 2) Human existence. Here are the five models he outlines:

A) Orthodox Theology: Believers and Beliefs – This theological approach ignores the questions of modernity and simply repeats the teachings of a particular church’s doctrine. Tracy believes the strength of this model is the way it develops complex and nuanced understandings of Christian beliefs. However, it suffers from irrelevancy because it is not in conversation with other scholarly disciplines. It can only address the specific believer and fails to take the seriously Tillichian “situation”.

B) Liberal Theology: Modern Secularity and Christian Belief – Liberal theology is convinced that we must “rethink the fundamental vision and values of traditional Christianity in harmony with the fundamental vision and values of modernity” (26).
Schleiermacher. However, Tracy is convinced the project was a failure and unsuccessful.

C) Neo-orthodox Theology: Radical Contemporary Christian Faith and the God of Jesus Christ – Tracy believes that liberal theology begat neo-orthodoxy. We must understand neo-orthodoxy as a reaction against the excesses of liberal theology. Neo-orthodox theology accepted the later critiques of modernity offered by Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. They questioned liberal naivety and utopian optimism. Tracy wonders if neo-orthodoxy did not properly criticize its own central convictions concerning revelation, Christology (29).

D) Radical Theology: Secular Affirmation and Theistic Negation – Contra neo-orthodoxy, radical theology proclaimed the death of the Wholly Other God. One should consider these theologians as being radically christocentric (or radical Barthian). Unsurprisingly, Tracy appreciates the emphasis on secularity but wonders if the entire enterprise is impossible. Can one continue to do theology if God has been evacuated?

E) Revisionist Model: A Critical Correlation – These theologians are committed to bring together Christian theology and post-modern thought. It intends to take seriously postmodern values and beliefs that will critique of Christian beliefs. Ultimately, “contemporary Christian theology is best understood as philosophical reflection upon the meanings present in common human experience and the meanings present in the Christian tradition” (34).


5 Responses to “Tracy’s Blessed Rage for Order Part I”

  1. Tracy’s Blessed Rage for Order Part II « JRidenour Says:

    […] JRidenour The Intersection of Psychoanalysis, Philosophy, and Theology « Tracy’s Blessed Rage for Order Part I […]

  2. Simon Lee Says:

    Interesting. I wonder if there are other paradigms that could be added. Not sure I fit any of these boxes.

  3. Jeremy Says:

    I certainly don’t think this an exhaustive list. One should also recognize that he wrote this book int he early 70s. Other theological paradigms might include liberation theology, post-liberal theology, and postmodern theology.

    How would you describe your own theological paradigm.

    • Simon Lee Says:

      That’s very difficult for me to say definitively. However, I suspect I would be closest to postmodern theology.

  4. Jeremy Says:

    Then again postmodern theology has a similar to methodology to correlational/liberal theology in many ways. I’m not sure it really offers anything new methodologically.

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