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Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-secular Theology Paperback – December 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic (December 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780801027352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801027352
  • ASIN: 0801027357
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #633,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James K. A. Smith (Ph.D., Villanova University) is the Gary & Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology & Worldview at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In addition, he is editor of Comment magazine and a senior fellow of the Colossian Forum. He formerly taught at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Active in both the church and the academy, Smith is the author of Speech and Theology (part of the Routledge Radical Orthodoxy series) and The Fall of Interpretation.

More About the Author

James K.A. Smith teaches philosophy and theology at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, having previously taught at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He has been a visiting professor at Fuller Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando and Regent College in Vancouver, BC. Originally trained in philosophical theology and contemporary French philosophy, Smith's work is focused on cultural criticism informed by the Christian theological tradition. His more popular writing has also appeared in magazines such as the Christian Century, Christianity Today, First Things, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, and others.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Tedd Steele on February 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
Over the last few years there have been many questions and conversations about Radical Orthodoxy. For many, it is a way of thinking that is as confusing as it is insightful. James K. A. Smith shows the promise of Radical Orthodoxy in this very accessible introduction.

Smith aims to summarize what the "theological sensibility" (most of the authors don't want to be considered a movement or school of thought) known as Radical Orthodoxy has been about. He also intends to point out deficiencies in "RO" and suggest avenues for future research. He does all of this from a Reformed point of view, one that is missing in much of RO's work. The book is divided into two parts. The first seeks to place RO within the greater theological and philosophical discussion. It does so by discussing other ways of thinking, outlining RO's main contentions, and giving a brief account of the history of philosophy as RO reads it. The second section more clearly articulates RO's contentions and points the way to future improvements. Chapters deal with politics, epistemology, ontology, and ecclesiology. Smith makes it clear that he finds RO's soteriology and understanding of sin particularly in need of repair.

If you are a student struggling with RO, this book is definately for you. If you are theologian interested in RO, this book will help summarize RO and give a brief critique. If you are involved in RO and want to see it move in different directions, this book is a useful part of the conversation. I highly recommend it.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Nathan P. Gilmour on January 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
I had the opportunity three years ago to read through John Milbank's Theology and Social Theory with a theology professor and a group of dedicated, intelligent seminarians. Without those resources, I would never have entered into the world of Radical Orthodoxy (RO). Now, for those who don't have the opportunity to study with Dr. Norris at Emmanuel School of Religion, James Smith has provided an entrance that is just as helpful (even if it lacks the entertainment value of a Norris class).

Smith, a theologian and philosopher claimed by the Reformed tradition, does a superb job locating RO's project, critique moves, and conceptual refinements among the trends of contemporary academic theology, taking care to include its relationships with oft-ignored intellectual movements such as fundamentalism and the emergent church. He notes the political, philosophical, metaphysical, and ecclesiological swerves that Ward and company make and gives ample attention to several critiques of the movement and to the content of their objections.

Most interesting is Smith's willingness to bring his own Reformed tradition, especially in the person of Dooyeweerd (sp?), into contact with RO and to let each correct the other. He thus presents an excellent model of what help theological traditions might offer one another.

The book itself had no major weaknesses that I could discern but invites much more work that would engage RO from other theological traditions. I can only hope that some Pentecostals and Episcopalians and Evangelicals take up Smith's challenge.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jacob on November 11, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
t is always interesting to find "coincidences" in theological movements. That is, when group A arrives at a theological position/conclusion that looks eerily similar to what group B believes. It is even stranger to find that they never borrowed from the same sources or even interacted. Such it is with the rise of Radical Orthodoxy (hereafter RO) and its critique of modernity.

Introduction
RO is a group of theologians who saw the bankruptcy of modernity, and the inability of post modernity to answer the tough questions, thus positing a critique that seeks to avoid both secularism and pre-modernity. It is similar to a Parisian Augustine. RO is sensitive to post-modernity's critiques of secularism. The book offers a multi-angled critique of secularalism: epistemological, ontological, and ecclesiological.

Once Upon a Time there was Plato
RO's epistemological critique of secularism is a retelling of the story of Western philosophy. According to RO, philosophy took a fatal turn with Duns Scotus. Scotus posited a univocity of being stating there is only one kind of being in everything real, though infinite in the case of God and finite in the case of creatures. According to RO, this flattened ontology, removing the transcendent and giving us a metaphysics of immanence. Smith writes, "The created, immanent order no longer participates in the divine and thus is no longer characterized by the depth of that which is stretched toward the transcendent (93)." In other words, man is now able to interpret reality apart from God or any notion of the transcendent. This opened the door to secularism.
The antidote to Scotus, then, is Plato. If Scotus unhooked ontology, Plato (or his Christian disciples) can reconnect it.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By N. Wood on October 8, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book two years ago during the summer before my senior year of college, and I found it utterly fascinating. Even at the level of learning I was at then (three years of college philosophy and theology courses), the book was rather difficult at times, so it's definitely only for those at advanced undergraduate or graduate levels. That said, it's still infinitely easier to read that any of John Milbank's own writings, so anyone wanting a relatively easy introduction to the thought of Milbank and other RO thinkers should definitely start hear before picking up any of the source texts themselves.

For those unfamiliar with RO, it is a movement combining the best of contemporary Christian theology, Continental and postmodern philosophy, and ancient and medieval thought, creating a new "post-secular" theology that doesn't simply parrot the findings of the social sciences and secular philosophy, but recasts them in a distinctively Christian mould. For those who, like myself, have looked for something in Continental philosophy of religion that doesn't end up with results that look disappointingly unorthodox, RO definitely merits a look.
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