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Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-secular Theology Paperback – December 1, 2004
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About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Don’t let the title fool you — this is some heady stuff. It will be a tough read for non-philosophers. The first and last chapters were excellent. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Teddy Ray
James Smith assumes too much of the uninitiated, namely that they will understand his short hand way of referencing various theologians as a means to having to avoid the long... Read morePublished on June 2, 2013 by Robert B. Culhane
Radical Orthodoxy (RO) is a relatively new current within Christian theology. Despite its name, it has nothing in common with the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Read morePublished on February 2, 2013 by Ashtar Command
James K.A. Smith teaches philosophy and theology at Calvin College; he previously taught at Loyola Marymount University, Fuller Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Regent... Read morePublished on May 10, 2012 by Steven H Propp
Jamie Smith attempts to meld Continental philosophy with Christianity to come up with a new take on theology coined Radical Orthodoxy. Read morePublished on August 1, 2009 by Kevin Pilot