Graham Ward on the destructive effect of the Internet

Source: Graham Ward, ‘Theology and Postmodernism: Is It All Over? », Journal of the American Academy of Religion, vol.80, no.2, June 2012, 466-484

I used to be a heavy online game addict (and is still somewhat heavily addicted to the Internet). The decision of quitting online game for me is made out of a period of rational deliberation. After that I have always tried to organize these thoughts and share them with others, as a way to help people out.

In the 2012 June edition of the AAR journal, Graham Ward’s article on [the perpetuation of] postmodernity caught my eye. To be honest, this is not a particularly well-written piece, for he flapdoodles a lot in those philosophical jargons (from Habermas to Taylor to Jameson to Hegel to Zizek to Marx to Lacan to Lyotard to Badiou and Agamben and his radical orthodoxy folks) while his thought-flow remained somewhat high in the air (which I am not surprised at all, because this is an AAR journal and the entire AAR is currently under Kwok Pui-Lan’s direction).

However, I am intrigued by Ward’s analysis of the Internet, whereby the postmodern diverging and dissolute  trends, characterized by the perennial dialectics of communication and consumption, have finally found a common instrument of representation (p.470). Specifically, he applies what Zizek termed the ‘plague of fantasies’ (Slavoj Zizek, The Plague of Fantasies, London, 2009) to describe the atavistic and surrogate forms of living of postmodern human being on the virtual reality.

  • Atavisticappearance of a trait belonging to a distant ancestor that has been dormant in recent generations. Atavistic feelings or behaviour seem to be very primitive, like the feelings or behaviour of our earliest ancestors
  • surrogate: A figure of authority who takes the place of the father or mother in a person’s unconscious or emotional life.

Apparently, not every type of internet use can be described as an atavistic and surrogate form of living. This form of living is most intensified in online games (MMORPG).

In contrast to conventional technological « tools » (like an axe, a scissor, a computer, or a car), which is subject to our active use and is intimately associated with us like an ‘extension of our  body’, the online game/virtual reality has a highly alienating and technocratic tendency than anything Karl Marx could identify at his time because it is oppressive, life-denying, and sensuous (p.473).

According to Ward,

  1. It is oppressive because we  are handing ourselves over to be colonized by the server’s control, the programmer’s imagination, and to both their ideologies and pathologies. To understand this point, simply recall how the online games are designed: the fantasy world is controlled by their programmers, and we players have no power in changing (or not following) the rules. We players are buying into a tyranny whereby the game manager can twist the rule, create an unbeatable monster, or revamp the virtual monetary system anytime. We could also only play for the finite goals and value systems they put into the game (for example, an online game I played before had no fair-trading system.).

    bg0559pic-5

  2. It is life-denying because our virtual participation is vicarious: abstracted from the activity in the world that feeds our relationships with others, our sense of dependency and responsibility.Certainly this is not true to all kinds of internet activity. For example, my use of google+, facebook, academia.edu, goodreads, linkedin, and so on, is highly connected with my real life relationships with others.    It is not abstracted from my learning activity and my social concerns.But by contrast, the online game (again, I am specifically referring to the MMOPRGs) creates a nexus of identity and sense of belongings on its own. You are your avatar, and you build relationships there through your avatar with others in their avatars. This kinds of virtual participation leads to a sense of dependency and responsibility parallel to that of real life. Positively speaking, it could be an excellent training ground for youth and teenagers to practice their communication skills and virtues of mutual trust, honesty, cooperation, leadership, prudence, and so on. I know some MMORPGs are designed particularly well for serving such tasks (WoW & Second Life).
    萬頭鑽動
    However, the real problem lies in its « disconnection in over-connection »: by over-connecting and committing ourselves to such virtual reality, the game is no longer for just training or demonstrative purposes; it replaces our real life by disconnecting us from out real life dealings and accountability. We could care these friends more than our significant others, and fulling the tasks for the check points more than our jobs in real life.


    (The same can be said for sports games. Sports are perfect instruments to practice the virtues I mentioned above, especially for teenagers who are most suitable for « learning from plays ». But over-committing oneself in them would be a misplacement of one’s life priorities and could ruin one’s real life. The Internet is much more addictive and entertaining, so its potential disastrous effect needs to be considered with greater care.)
  3. It is a profound alienation because its oppression and life-denial is continually pack up by its sensual attraction and displaced by the aesthetic pleasures of being entertained. This point easily connects to most online gamers, as you see every avatar is sexy and unrealistically sexual. The equipment are dreamy, monsters are awesome and powerful, and scenery are magnificent and wonderful. It drags us deeper by feeding our desire with what things in reality can rarely offer to us.
    To a certain degree the world of silver screen and the Hollywood culture are also doing similar disservice to our generation.[文摘] Kevin Vanhoozer’s Interview with Gospel Coalition

If I am to organize a forum with a special topic on the Internet culture, these are the lines I am going to trace and explicate for the parents and the youth- with my personal testimony, for sure.

[Book Review] The Cambridge Companion to Karl Barth

 

 

edition price bookseller updated
The Cambridge Companion to Karl Barth Paperback
published by Cambridge University Press (2000)

0521585600 • 9780521585606
Paperback, 332 pages
Published October 5th 2000 by Cambridge University Press

To me, this book is quite an achievement and enjoyable to read.

But beginners (and non-professionals) may need some professional guidance to grapple with its advanced content.

For, on the one hand, it assumes basic acquaintanceship with Barth’s work per se and some formal training in the field of systematic theology.
And on the other, the contributors, though all sympathetic to Barth, hold some different perspectives in their approaches.

Painting with a broad stroke, there are four major voices in this book: postliberal, radical orthodox, neo-reformed, and the German tradition.

Personally, I am happy to see that Webster (the most influential Barth scholar in UK) drawing together these Barth interpreters from diverging school of thoughts. But you probably won’t be able to tell and slide through their differences and synthesize their views.)

I recommend ch.1, 10, 14, 15, 18 of this book for beginners that have not completed any single volume of CD themselves. They are accessible and written in good styles.

As for ch.2-9, 11-3, which each takes an aspect of Barth doctrine of theological prolegomena, revelation, Scripture, Trinity, Election, Creation, Christology, Soteriology, Pneumatology, liturgy, and ethics, you will need to be able to contrast Barth against the backdrop of the traditional (evangelical) and liberal understanding of these topics in order to appreciate what Barth is doing. The contributors here do not necessarily help you do this. This is not a problem to me, and some chapters really helped me to set Barth’s CD in order.
But it should be said that the section in this companion is not for any novice who wants to read Barth as their first and primary tutor about how to talk about God systematically.

Apparently, the most seminal and controversial piece in this companion is ch.6 ‘Grace and Being’ by Bruce McCormack, which sparkled a fierce debate over a decade since its publication (on the theological ontology of God’s immanence, aseity, and election).
His chapter is not only important but also very inspirational to read, especially for what is now known as ‘actualistic ontology’ in not just theological but philosophical circles as well.

Personally, I found ch.17 ‘Barth, modernity, postmodernity’ by Graham Ward a very wise inclusion in this companion. For up until now, the solution and inspiration Barth offers for overcoming the epistemological and ethical plight in the secular world are underappreciated by theologians unfamiliar with the larger picture of contemporary critical thinking.
And this is one of the reasons why conservative theology has lost its mic to speak publicly while liberal theology has lost its vowels to speak loudly.

Graham Ward is one among those (along with Stanley Hauerwas, Joseph Magina, Paul Dafydd Jones, Steven Long, Nicholas Adams) who are insightful and capable of bringing out the bearings of Barth’s theology unto this world which has never thought they want or need to think about theology.

In my opinion, these two chapters are for the more ‘advanced’, and they are also the most rewarding chapters to read.
All in all, this book is highly recommended.

[文摘] The Neo-Augustinian Temptation

Louis Comfort Tiffany, Window of St. Augustine...
St. Augustine

Source Link: The Neo-Augustinian Temptation

From First Things, March 1998 Issue

[前言] 本文針對後自由神學究竟想處理什麼教會的問題、想要對這個時代的教會和社會做些什麼,提出了我有史以來看過最淺白的說明(與質疑)。根據聖奧古斯丁的「上帝之城」,他把包含林貝克、侯活士、、海斯、葉果的後自由神學家、激進正統運動的米爾班、後改教運動的賴特等人都一同稱做「新奧古斯丁主義者」。我在段落之間提供我的插注或回應,並在倒數三四段處以較多文字對這篇 13年前的文章(主要是針對 90 年代後自由神學的疑義)闡述 21 世紀以來後自由神學的修正和展望。

The Neo-Augustinian Temptation

By Robert Benne

There is a rising strand of Christian social thought inspired by a fresh reading of Augustine’s City of God. Those involved are prolific, erudite, and, for the most part, quite young. Their intellectual seniors include George Lindbeck and Stanley Hauerwas, both of whom helped to bring ecclesiology back into Christian ethics. But the young ones have taken off from there. Names like John Milbank and David Yeago in theology, Reinhard Hütter in ethics, and Richard Hays and N. T. Wright, biblical scholars upon whom the others draw heavily, are representative of this increasingly visible trend.

The movement, if it is cohesive enough to be called that, is committed to the construction of an independent and distinct churchly culture based upon the full narrative of Israel and the Church as it has been carried through the ages by the Great Tradition. Theologically, the neo-Augustinians are anti-foundationalistswho believe that a religious tradition like Christianity is a cultural-linguistic system that cannot and should not be compromised by any standards not its own. They learned that from Lindbeck.

Another Tomorrow
Image by Earl-Wilkerson via Flickr

Biblically, they argue that the early Christianity depicted in the Pauline letters was a churchly “public” or culture of its own, flourishing alongside of but radically distinct from the Roman, Jewish, and Hellenistic cultures of the time. “Paul already regards the Church as a new public order in the midst of the nations with its own distinctive culture,” argues David Yeago. Christians who entered such a culture were “dying to the world” in the sense that they were entering a new ecclesial world.

Ethically, they contend that the practices of this distinct, living tradition form the Christian virtues that sustain such an ecclesial world. The Church’s worship, preaching, teaching, and communal life shape the virtues that maintain the practices of marriage and family life, charity, hospitality, governance, art, and thought that provide a real alternative to the dying world about us. The Church essentially needs no sources other than its own for the ethical task. Milbank asserts that the Church produces its own “ecclesial society,” with an attendant ontology, social theory, ethics, and economics.

Ecclesiology, that formerly unexciting branch of systematic theology, takes on urgency in the neo-Augustinians’ writings. The Church is a constitutive dimension of the Gospel, manifesting a comprehensive new life. It is the Body of Christ in a direct and literal way, a people in continuity with the people of Israel. It needs to live truly from its own sources and forget about worldly relevance. “The Church is a public in its own right,” says Hütter. “The world,” when pressed hard, is simply another religious vision of life that is a poison when ingested uncritically by the Church.

The neo-Augustinians are sharply polemical. Above all, they are contemptuous of the “modern settlement,” to use Yeago’s term, in which secular, liberal society, with its procedural definition of justice, has succeeded in marginalizing the religious vision. The modern settlement has insisted on a “naked public square” in which religion is relegated to the private sphere of life. Meanwhile, modernity’s own “scientific” way of understanding life is dogmatized as the only public meaning available.

  • This is mainly due to the immediate falsifiability available in the discipline of science and largely universal perceptibility of physical/material reality. Certainly we don’t buy into materialism or scientism (that the investigative methods of the physical sciences are applicable or justifiable in all fields of inquiry), but incommensurability between religion and science (in terms of at least falsifiability) must be acknowledged for meaningful mediating work to proceed.
    Spiral Staircase, Vatican
    Image by Christopher Chan via Flickr

Rather than being “objective” or “scientific,” secular social theories are, Milbank argues, “concealed theologies or anti-theologies.” In this “settlement,” Christian belief becomes a weekend hobby in no real competition with the really serious ways of understanding life in this world-sociology, psychology, economics, and political science.

A second object of the neo-Augustinians’ disdain is the religious individualism-both sophisticated and kitsch庸俗作品; 粗劣作品 -that has accepted the modern settlement. The sophisticated are the highly educated “new class” that Ernst Troeltsch typified many years ago as “mystics” (Church, Sect and Mysticism) who wouldn’t be caught dead (=would never; that something very bad would make even a dead person uncomfortable) identifying themselves with a specific tradition or belonging to a real church. The kitsch-devotees are the practioners of the popular religion that searches for contact with the “divine spark” in each individual. This is the gnostic element ingrained in so much American religion. It has, these critics say, little moral seriousness and no people-forming capacities.

  • Out of contempt of the denominational tradition, the mystics and popular folks are respectively akin to the postmodern [ecclesial] agnostics and new-agers. They disembody our ecclesiology.
Farmer with Horse
Image by h.koppdelaney via Flickr

Almost as objectionable are the desiccated religious bodies that have accepted the modern settlement, albeit unconsciously. Mainstream church bodies have tacitly bought the argument that politics and therapy are more important than Christian faith, and have allowed their theologies to become handmaidens of ideology or psychology.

  • It identifies politicized and moralized/therapeutic churches as the next two targets of postliberals.

They give sacred legitimation to secular knowledge and action and thereby become “relevant.” (Several of the neo-Augustinians have made the surprising charge that the theology of Reinhold Niebuhr is best understood as a religious legitimation of liberal democracy.)

  • I cannot wholeheartedly agree with this identification. Indeed, Milbank’s theology has a strong element of sacred legitimation of the autonomy. This takes a quite different shape than Neo-Reform’s pillarization. “Hunsinger/Milbank shows that a true postliberal position allows a genuine autonomy for the various sciences, whilst giving God the primacy, for there is to me no such thing as “pre-theological,” unless we accept a modernist typology of religion.
  • Hays does find fault with Reinhold Niebuhr’s divine sanction of liberal democracy. But this is an issue worthy of further investigation—on what a genuine postliberal political theology is. There is no denial that Niebuhr’s lacks a discernable Christian ecclesiology has erred in several other places (Hays’ critique), but this does not lead to a rejection of the possibility of a religious legitimation of the concept of liberal democracy at all. For example, Milbank would say that the true liberal democratic spirit can only be found and undergirded in the Christocentric orthodoxy (whether this “Christianized democracy” should take the form of Dutch reformed pillarization or other form in the post-secular society is of another question).

These mainstream bodies, though they think they are involved in “transformation,” are more likely being acculturated more deeply into the modern settlement. According to Hütter, such attempts ironically “deepen the Church’s irrelevance and undermine its public (political) nature by submitting and reconditioning the Church according to the saeculum’s understanding of itself as the ultimate and normative public.”
Other churches-represented by the church-growth movement-tacitly accept the notion that the religious needs and wants registered in the open market should be the guiding signals for religious practice. They become “relevant” in another way. But, as with the mainstream, they are no longer drinking from their own wells. In the church-growth world, according to Hütter, “religion itself increasingly becomes another commodity regulated by market forces.”

  • The next target is followed logically after the religious legitimation of the secular: [neo]-pragmatism that plagues the integrity of our ecclesiology in the form of church-growth movement.

The neo-Augustinian project strikes some critics as a new sectarianism, but it is far from that. Its proponents believe in culture—Christian culture. They are not inimical to the arts, music, politics, economic life, education. But these cultural activities, they insist, will have to be renewed-if not entirely rebuilt-on Christian assumptions. Culture under the modern settlement is depleting its inheritance from the Christian past and is gradually descending into perversion and chaos. A new culture must arise from the Church.

The neo-Augustinians are also catholic-even if they are Lutherans, Methodists, or Presbyterians. They transcend modern Christian divisions by attempting to retrieve a premodern Christian consensus. They have a “high” Christology, sacramentology, and ecclesiology and are committed to maintaining strong continuity with the great catholic tradition. They emphasize Catholic substance over Protestant principle.

There is much that is attractive and compelling in this movement. Its confidence in and clarity about orthodox Christianity is highly persuasive. It is refreshing to encounter serious thinkers who argue unabashedly that the Christian vision is true and trustworthy and that it matters ultimately.

This neo-Augustinian outlook is particularly tempting in moments when one is convinced that the current culture of the West is unraveling (FALL APART, fail, collapse, go wrong). Modernity’s commitment to individual rights and procedural justice seems to have no way of affirming substantive moral notions as to how we should live together in community. Indeed, “rights talk” is used as a trump card to override the inherited moral substance of our common life.

  • Volf’s analysis about contract and covenant in Exclusion and Embrace is an extraordinarily relevant piece.

The Protestant culture that provided the social glue for most of American history is in shambles肉店, 混亂, 屠宰場and shows scant prospect of being revived or renewed. What little remains of the Protestant Establishment indicates no commitment to such traditional Judeo-Christian notions as the sanctity of life at its beginning and end, of marriage as a lifelong covenant of fidelity between a man and a woman, of intrinsic, non-utilitarian moral norms, or of the grateful acceptance of given conditions of life.

  • Facing the neo-pragmatist trend, the big epistemic/analytic issue to reestablish moral realism and place the Bible in a proper ontological sanctuary where it can have its own say to both insiders and outsiders of the Christian covenant.

As one watches the moral norms that make for decency and restraint slowly erode, it is tempting to declare a pox on our national house and opt out of the struggle for a common culture. It would be pleasant to lose oneself in an ecclesial culture that affirms orthodox Christianity and is eagerly building a parallel culture, one built on the rock of faith instead of the endlessly shifting sands of modernity. In such circumstances, one could quit the perpetual struggle with those in both church and society who seem to have wholeheartedly bought into the modern settlement. Who wants always to appear reactionary or nostalgic?

This new vision offers the prospect of creating a genuine “people,” not merely a collection of political or psychological activists or, worse, religious consumers. It aims at incorporating full persons into a full ecclesial culture that can overcome the terrible fragmentation of modern life into semi-autonomous spheres of existence. One would have a coherent and cohesive “world” to live in alongside the decaying world around it. Wasn’t this in fact what the early Church provided at the beginning of the Common Era?

Ah, but wait. As attractive as this neo-Augustinian vision is, it is finally more a temptation than a real option. The main reason is theological. If God is indeed the creator and sustainer of the larger world of economics, politics, and culture, then we as Christians are called to witness there. Our salvation is not in that witness, but our obedience is. And though we know that much of contemporary culture is debased, we also know that it is not beyond redemption. Indeed, reminding ourselves of the illusions of perfectionism, we might even grant that, relatively speaking, it is not all that bad. In any case, modernity’s own norms of procedural justice and individual rights offer openings for Christian witness.

  • This is a valid critique of the “Hauerwasian mafia”, a mutated Christian species primarily to be found in the American South. Some have identified this mutation as resulting from the American South’s lacking of liberal backdrop and soil required to foster a robust postliberal theology. To put another way, Hauerwasian mafia read Hauerwas with their partial lenses, and their postliberal theology is a crippled version akin to a cynic sectarianism.
  • On the other hand, the “witness” [to the world] theme is very prominent in Hauerwas’ thoughts if you read them carefully. The problem is how to prevent our understanding of God as the Almighty sovereign over all creation from collapsing into those corresponding political/ethical visions of Christian Reconstruction, postmillennial Triumphalism, and/or the schizophrenic Two-Kingdom theology. Namely, this is the old “Christ and Culture” theme made prominent by Richard Niebuhr: if we all agree that the culture is not beyond redemption and God is still working with and in it, what else shall we believe and do [as an individual believer and corporate Christian church]?

From this theological perspective, it is better to side with those who are willing to struggle for a decent, common culture—even though success is by no means assured. The right-to-life groups, the Christian Coalition, Bread for the World, the American Family Association, and many others make a worthwhile difference in the struggle for America’s soul. And these religious groups have secular allies. The “principled pluralism” suggested by Os Guinness that aims at an overlapping moral consensus is not without prospects of success in the lively world of American politics. There is still much that is good-given and sustained by the Creator—in our common life outside the church.

  • The author has not yet really given a convincing critique of postliberal/ neo-Augustinian ecclesiology, but he now starts to applaud for those who practice the Catholic social thought/ethics of the “common good”. This is not good, for the difficult issue between the postliberal anti-foundationalism and the Catholic neo-foundaitonalism has not been outlined.
  • The issue of whether secular and pagan allies should be tolerated and even welcomed for a “common good” cause (such as fighting against poverty, AIDS, environmental exploitation, human trafficking, and so on) is debatable enough. You don’t need to be a postliberal to see the complications involved. A self-identified postliberal like me can also believe in a Christology-based secular rationality whereby people of different faiths can still work on morally good causes. The key is to distinguish the first-order (genreal) revelation and second-order (special) revelation 第一序的文本詮釋與第二序的方法論反思, and articulates the supervening relationship between them.
  • Theoretically, that would require a theological twist of Jurgen Haberamas’ communication theory, the “theological turn of phenomenology” by neo-foundaitonalist in particular like Jean-Luc Marion, the re-adaptation of the hermeneutical theory of another eminent Catholic neo-foundaitonalist David Tracy, and the concept of Scriptural reasoning project that is currently under the direction of postliberal foundationalist theologian David Ford.
  • Therefore I would prefer a discernment of those cases on a casuistic ground to overgeneralization.

We need also to remind ourselves how suffocating and stultifying it can be to inhabit an exclusively ecclesial reality. The ecclesial realities that have historically been constructed have often been as oppressive as their secular counterparts. When the neo-Augustinians write glowingly about ecclesial life, one wonders what church they are talking about. Even the strongest churches I have known could be characterized more aptly as bands of forgiven sinners than as shining knights in the Kingdom of God. Indeed, when one thinks of real, existing ecclesial publics, one thinks most immediately of the mega-churches that do in fact create a parallel culture for their members. Yet whatever the mega-churches’ contributions to Christian life and mission in the late twentieth century, they do not seem to measure up to what the neo-Augustinians have in mind. One wonders what church could measure up.

  • This would have been a valid critique. But I have several responses:
  1. 1)      Indeed, the church is not a static entity. You encounter people like “bands of forgiven sinners” as well as those like “shining knights in the Kingdom of God” in most churches. Moreover, to aptly perform the role of gospel witness to the world, we need to take up this dual identity—we are forgiven sinners as well as saints (Rom 6; 1 Cor 1; 2 Cor 5; Eph 6).
  2. 2)      Put in a deeper way, postliberals are not calling for a perfect church consisting of perfect Christian men and women. It strives for a visibly Christocentric corporate ecclesial culture that actively shape, rather than being easily degenerated and compromised (as if it was defenseless) by, the lives of its people.
  3. 3)      Therefore, we are awfully conscious about the fact that the Church is an ever changing and constantly self-renewing reality (instead of being perfect once for all), with her members in and out. Demographically speaking, old saints will leave this world and some will become reprobate or simply un-churched, while we have new born babies and children among us and surely new converts. Qualitatively and constructively speaking, the same group of people grows in the church in faith.
  4. 4)      This leads me to challenge the assumption that the mega-church with its well-established and extensive pastoral sectors is the best Christian counter-culture. I love mega-churches and I love what they are doing. There is a reason for such a statistic growth of them. However, it is insufficiently postliberal, for, firstly, the ecumenical dimension is lacking, and secondly, whatever the size of the mega-church is it cannot have the same reach into people’s public and everyday life (a necessary means for evangelism and witnessing through a God-honoring life) as a well-implemented pillarization (such as Christian high schools, universities, medical centers, insurance companies, business corporations, NGOs, grocery stores, farms, museums, artists, etc). We demand nothing less than a parallel structure for everything that a society has for Christians to be ‘conditioned’ to live a uncompromised Christian life, and hopefully this will create a healthy competition  and condition for a morally-uplifting societal culture as well.

There is much to be cherished in the neo-Augustinian vision. We do need to become more of a people shaped by a richer and more comprehensive ecclesiology. We do need to center on the Grand Narrative of the Great Tradition. We do need to march to the beat of a drum other than the world’s. But at the same time we need to witness in and struggle for that world. That is our calling. That is the Church’s calling.

Home Is A Fire
Image by Jack Louis Batchelor via Flickr
  • Thank you Dr. Benne, for your thoughtful analysis of the prospect of neo-Augustinian/postliberal political theology and ecclesiology, done 13 years ago.

Robert Benne is Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion at Roanoke College and author of The Paradoxical Vision: A Public Theology for the Twenty-First Century.

[文摘] Book Review:新新後現代神學──海曼的穿越情操

書評:新新後現代神學──海曼的穿越情操

Source: occr.christiantimes.org.hk/pdf/art_0064.pdf

作者:古斌

Hyman, Gavin The Predicament of Postmodern Theology: Radical Orthodoxy or Nihilist Textualism? Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press 2001, 176pp.

雖然書名是「後現代神學的困境」,但蓋文.海曼(Gavin Hyman)這本2001年問世的著作,並不是又一番對後現代思潮的鞭撻或嘲笑。相反,海曼是要比一眾後現代神學議程走得更遠,不是唐.庫比特(Don Cupitt)的非實在論(書中稱為「虛無文本主義」(nihilist textualism),不是馬可.泰勒(Mark Taylor)的反/神學(A/theology),也不是近年在英國劍橋冒起,以約翰.米爾班克(John Milbank)為代表的激進正統主義(Radical Orthodoxy,簡稱RO),而是借用法國理論家米歇.迪雪圖(Michel de Certeau)的觀念,不斷的穿過(move through),不斷的遠行。
雖然作者對RO和虛無文本主義皆作出批評,但明顯他與前者更為親和,至少他跟前者搭通頻道,多處對RO的診斷表示認同。相反,作者批評庫比特還是活在現代主義的框框裡,以為RO也是「活躍非實在論」(active non-realism)(頁62),沒有注意到,其實RO根本否定了現代的「實在論/非實在論」的框架

  • Radical Orthodoxy is a postmodern Christian theological movement founded by John Milbank that takes its name from the title of a collection of essays published by Routledge in 1999: Radical Orthodoxy, A New Theology, edited by John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock and Graham Ward. Radical Orthodoxy is a critique of modern secularism, and Kantian accounts of metaphysics. The name « Radical Orthodoxy » emphasizes the movement’s attempt to return to or revive traditional doctrine. « Radical » (lat. radix, « root »), « Orthodoxy » (gr. oρθός orthós « correct », and δόξα dóxa « teaching », [God-] »honoring », therefore, « correct faith »). The movement brings politics, ethics, culture, art, science, and philosophy in discussion with the sources of Christian theology. Its ontology has some similarities to the Neoplatonist account of participation.

    Henri de Lubac’s theological work on the distinction of nature and grace has been influential in the movement’s articulation of ontology. Hans Urs von Balthasar‘s
    theological aesthetics and literary criticism are also influential. The strong critique of liberalism found in much of Radical Orthodoxy has its origin in the work of
    Karl Barth
    . The Oxford movement and the Cambridge Platonists are also key influencers of Radical Orthodoxy.

    A form of Neoplatonism plays a significant role in Radical Orthodoxy. Syrian Iamblichus of Chalcis (ca. 245-325) and the Byzantine Proclus (412-485) are occasionally sourced, while the theology of Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Nicholas of Cusa and Meister Eckhart is often drawn upon.

    One of the key tasks of Radical Orthodoxy is to revisit the philosophy of Duns Scotus. Scotus’ (1265-1308) rejection of analogy
    is often presented as the precursor of modernity (including his optimistic view of reason’s ability to attain truth about the divine).

    The Druze, a religious community found primarily in Lebanon, Israel, and Syria, incorporate neoplatonic concepts into their beliefs.

    Central tenets of Neoplatonism, such as the absence of good being the source of evil, and that this absence of good comes from human sin, served as a philosophical interim for Augustine of Hippo, but he eventually decided to abandon Neoplatonism altogether in favor of a Christianity based on his own reading of Scripture.[22]

    In the Middle Ages, Neoplatonist ideas influenced Jewish thinkers, such as the Kabbalist Isaac the Blind, and the Jewish Neoplatonic philosopher Solomon ibn Gabirol, who modified it in the light of their own monotheism. Neoplatonist ideas also influenced Islamic and Sufi thinkers such as al Farabi and Avicenna. Neoplatonism survived in the Eastern Christian Church as an independent tradition and was reintroduced to the west by Plethon
    (他所撰述的《論亞里斯多德不同於柏拉圖》明確區分了柏拉圖與亞里斯多德思想的差異,喚起人文主義學者對柏拉圖的興趣,也對義大利文藝復興的哲學傾向產生決定性的影響).

不過,作者同樣對RO的議程保持距離,因為他察覺到米爾班克同樣是「打稻草人」(頁6),並且在否定了現代神話之後,有掉落另一個神話的危險。米爾班克所攻伐的,是尼采的虛無主義,因為它背後的本體論,引伸出暴力的倫理(頁113)。可是,尼采真的以為自己在談論真相嗎?兩個閱讀方向-自信為真理自覺為虛構,作者分別稱為「形上虛無主義」(metaphysical nihilism)和「虛構虛無主義」(fictional nihilism)。海德格便取前者,以尼采為「最後一位形上學家」(頁100),可是,德勒茲、德里達、吉安里.瓦蒂莫(Gianni Vattimo)等,都不認同海德格的詮釋。瓦蒂莫便不認為尼采相信永劫回歸是一種對現實的描述(頁102)。米爾班克認為,虛無主義拒絕依附傳統,可是那只是前者的閱讀方向,虛構虛無主義剛剛相反,由於削弱了自身的本體論位置,開放了對傳統委身之路(頁114)。

  • 後現代神學因為放下了絕對的形上學和本體論等暴力作法,因而才能在真理的詮釋和認識上做出貢獻!這裡「虛無主義」一詞不好,有誤導混淆之嫌。

海曼這本只有百來頁的著作,內容卻出奇地豐富。正如作者所說,後現代神學家都是「敘事」神學家(頁23),並且用游說來取信(頁66),作者也不例外,他也在敘述後/現代,敘述後現代神學,並且透過修辭來進行游說。在作者的敘事中,有幾點是特別動聽的,值得大家去注意:

01 敘事回來了

第一,作者視後現代為回歸的舊模態,而非新的時代。作者認為,我們早已活在一個稱為「後現代」的文化狀況之中(頁10)。他引用李歐塔的話:後現代不是一個時代,而是一個模態(mode),或者說,後現代是一種情感(sensibility)(頁12)。現代是要統攝現實的慾望,手段是理性與科學,它是排他的和壓迫性的。可是它並不穩定,被排斥的或是被壓抑的會回來,後現代不是現代之後,而是那一直被壓抑的回來。同樣,德里達也不是說,形上學和話語中心主義結束了,而是閉上了(closure)(頁13)。因此,被壓抑的,永遠在那裡,這很有精神分析的味道

  • 不是被壓抑就不在了!以本體論來說,它一直在那裡!

     

那麼所壓抑的是甚麼呢?李歐塔指出,後現代是現代性所壓抑的敘事模態的回歸(頁15)。他又提出「元敘事」(meta-narrative)的觀念,那是所有小敘事(petit récit)合法位置的仲裁者,實現了現代宰制現實的慾望。如今元敘事不再,只有小敘事。對於現代抬舉理性與科學模態,壓抑敘事模態,還是尼采攻擊得最深。他認為,真理只是虛構,它的虛構性已被忘記(頁19)。
其實後現代有不同的反應。李歐塔聲稱元敘事結束了,可是,這個宣告本身就是
面對元敘事,元敘事。這一點,李歐塔和跟隨他的庫比特也注意到(頁25)。作者認為,他們只是「沒有主體的笛卡兒主義」,思路跟笛卡兒沒有兩樣(頁23)。回應這種自相矛盾,米爾班克認為,與其宣告元敘事結束,不如宣告它的無可避免。這樣,所結束的不是所有的元敘事,而是「世俗理性」這一個元敘事,它的終結讓路給「基督教神學」這一個元敘事的回歸。(頁28)如此,庫比特和米爾班克都接受敘事性。前者是在一個實在論/非實在論的框架下,由標誌著實在論的自由主義,躍進非實在論並以「表現主義者」(expressionist)(頁 23)自居,否定宗教的獨一性和統一性。後者則以神學取代世俗理性,並認為所有知識皆敘事知識,這裡沒有一個現實要處理,沒有要解釋的(自然科學框架)也沒有要理解的(人文科學框架),這裡只有敘事(頁27)。對於RO來說,我們只能敘述一個社會現象,並且只能在更大的脈絡裡敘述它。這裡的敘事,更加接近後自由主義(post-liberalism)的傳統。作者如米爾班克般重視敘事的脈絡性,但他堅持要在沒有元敘事的情況下完成這項工作,這一點下文再述。

02 現代是神學異端?

第二點值得注意的,是作者對現代二元對分思想模態的溯源。RO跟隨巴爾塔撒(Balthasar),視現代的開端為一個十四世紀的神學轉向,乃是對亞奎那神學本體論的離棄。作者同意這一點,但不同意RO認為現代是異端式的「誤轉向」,而是一個學術上所出現的一個破口,主張我們仍要繼續前行。(頁33)

  • 大正確!阿奎那的本體論自然神學本來就缺陷重重,現代性只是因應需要而生,並反應了經院哲學的失敗和不足。現在若要回應現代性,我們所需要的不是回歸,而是繼續前進。

巴爾塔撒指出,亞奎那認為存有(being, esse)只是「從神而出」,神對於存有具優先性,神與一切存有都不同屬,一切對神的言說都是類比的,即是說,不全對,但有點對。可是,一二五○年代阿威洛伊主義(Averroism)興起,之後司各脫(Duns Scotus)接受它,他把「存有」同樣地用來指涉創造者與被造。這樣做有兩個結果:一、「存有」比神更優先,神與人同樣是存有,只是程度不同罷了,神因此失去了本體論的超越性。二、同時,神人之間有一個形上學的無限距離,如此,一個本體論的超越,轉換成為一個認識論的超越。正是因為神與人在存有上失去了差異,類比反而成為不可能。因此,司各脫同時把神拉近了(本體上)和拉遠了(認知上)

  • 見注一。另外這點就可以理解田立克說 »god is not exist; god is the ground of being. » 是要回復上帝(Ultimate concern)之於存有的超越與先驗性。

如此,存有成了先驗的,神成為形上學的對象,禮儀敘事類比,讓位給指涉、科學和再現(頁37)。再現(representation) 成了絕對的東西,從而產生主體和客體的區別,客體需要主體去感知和再現。這樣,作者指出,原來司各脫才是現代的創建人。日後的康德和希克(John Hick),也是跟隨他的。神的不可知性,對希克來說是指存在上的,不再是本質上的。這樣,神的超越性,使祂越來越不真實。

  • 太精彩了這段…it pithily brings out what Hauerwasian post-liberal project is all about and at the same time allude to the fact that the agenda of ever-dominant RCC Thomism/natural theology and the Enlightenment humanistic optimism/modernism basically share the same ideology!!
  • 然後這樣的再現神話要直到後結構(Barthes’ Mythology)、後現代時才被破除(and then the constructive theology/post-liberal theology again makes constructive model in response to what deconstruction has torn apart.)
  • Hick 這段我頗為懷疑。從某種角度說「不可知性」應該既是本質上又是存在上的。因為在存在上意味著我們無法經歷、就更不可能對本質做出任何描述。而這還關係到我們是否依循存在主義「存在先於本質」的立場。以Hick來說,他是大量繼承了康德的認識論轉向,但他希望淡化其中的唯心論色彩。所以結果是他的新自由神學,其實已經從前現代走得很遠了。Hick認為禮儀、敘事、類比不過是無法反應上帝本質的「宗教現象學」的內容。他既不願授與它們本體論的地位,又不想否定宗教經驗的真實性,結果就是把它們安置於「存在」的位置(現象界)。但另一方面來說,指涉、科學和再現更不是Hick所信任的,這就當然地把他和康德區分了開來:康德認定純粹理性中的超驗統覺,但Hick(跟隨 Wittgenstein)指出理性也不過是大腦對事物經驗的一種詮釋過程。結論是,當他在「宗教之解釋」一書中說「絕對者」(The Real)是無法指涉(ineffable)的時候,說他「意指存在上的神不可知,而不再是本質上的神不可知」並不正確。Hick想要說的是:所有的宗教都是在嘗試敬拜一位不可知之神;敬拜本身是真的,但「有沒有敬拜到神」卻是不可知的。是神本質上的不可知,導致了他存有上的不可知。

為甚麼RO反對現代呢?因為米爾班克認為,現代就是司各脫的反神學走向,因而是「異端的、偶像的和世俗的」(頁49),RO要做的是制勝現代,而不是發展現代;而且,只有神學才是唯一可以制勝現代的後現代。米爾班克批評道,康德肯定界限以外的他者,但不知道這他者的內容;可是,他怎知道有限一定不能推及到界限以外之地呢?他的肯定是教條式的,他正正相信自己知道永恆是甚麼。(頁50)如果所知的僅限於有限,與無限隔斷,我們又怎知道這所知的不是主觀的,而無限不是一種投射呢(頁51)RO的立論是,在之所以在,在於其多於所是all there is only is because it is more than it is)(頁69)。他們的邏輯是:元敘事造就了本體性超越,本體性超越造就了參予,而參予造就了類比

  • Hick 跟 Kant做出了相同的推斷(這不能說一定錯誤):肯定界限以外的他者,但不知道這他者的內容。the question we must ask is: isn’t there any better working assumption?
  • 簡單來說,存有最大,其為無限,超越一切本體論實在界的總和。這說法在讀過von Balthasar之後我覺得是相當含混的。對他來說,神學是「上帝的本體性超越造就了參予,而參予造就了類比,而類比造就了元敘事」。但人類心智在能夠進行神學性思考之前,一切卻必須由類比開始:由類比開始,我們慢慢建立一個敘事框架,以此我們方覺察了上帝的本體性超越(例如由數字觀念的無限來類比上帝的無限)。

03 由虛假到虛構

第三點值得注意的,是作者的答辯,他為RO辯護,然後再為虛無主義辯護。首先,RO不是非實在論。維根斯坦曾說,觀念論(即非實在論)和實在論都相信自己可以為世界的本質說些甚麼(頁56)。非實在論相信,一切的再現只是再現的再現,這個「只」字,也是相信自己在談論真相。米爾班克曾說,「他的工作是要 『說服』別人出於『文學口味』而認定基督教所講的故事更動聽。」(頁165,註31)。RO的Rowan Williams則說,「語言是人用來跟環境打交道(negotiating)的東西,是找路走,而不是以再現的問題為中心。」(頁60)

  • Milbank’s approach is narrative theology that truths depend on the strength of hermeneutical weight, given there is nothing outside of text (Derrida) and the narratability of human existence (Ricoeur). R. William則指向敘事和詩學對於「符號本質」與再現理論的根本差異。詩的關注在於符號本身,觀念界理念的能指遊戲。

海曼對庫比特的批評,是其誤解RO。庫比特以實在論/非實在論的框架,以再現作為關懷,同時也抗拒他者,那是一個「在場」有優先性和再現作為「在場」之表現的現代範式。它相信「在場」就是真的,不在場就是沒有東西,沒有東西就叫作缺席(頁63)。這麼說,庫比特的框架可說是「現代」後現代主義,骨子裡仍然很笛卡兒。

  • …以及logocentrism!
  • 必須重新記憶的是don Cupitt理解為「真」的,不過也就是經驗表現和再現上的真(例如:活出一副天國是真的存在的樣子,意義上遠大於天國是否實存)。以Descartes二元論來貶抑這套系統,完全是合理的批判。

如果RO只是在敘事,不是再現,同樣,虛無主義也不是在再現。海曼提出的「虛構虛無主義」,是虛無主義的貫徹

  • Fictional nihilism如我說過,是個很誤導的名稱。它的消極形式是解構,就是Derrida的破壞,本身必須不停地游牧(沒錯,你忽略了Deleuze)和迂迴;但其也具備積極形式,就是RO、敘事神學的後自由神學。Metaphysical nihilism則按照Heidegger說法,以Nietzsche為最後一個代表(事實上我個人認為在他之後還有Sartre),其虛無的方式是暴力的,because the way he « represented » « le neant » is still logocentric!! 然而Deleuze本身承襲了Nietzsche,所以他否定Heidegger說法。必須注意的是,Deleuze之所以難搞,是因為(如我在別處說過的)他本身在進行的就是「本體論的後現代」。所以一方面來說Deleuze是Foucault- Derrida (Heidegger excluded- being himself the « Ground of postmodernism », he does not belong to it.) 那派同樣作為Fictional nihilism的重大代表—Foucault破壞了倫理學(and Levinas built a lame version on top of the ruin);Derrida破壞了認識論(and Rorty built a lame model on top of its ruin);Deleuze(嚴格歷史意義上說來是Heidegger & Wittgenstein)破壞了本體論(but he himself built an ill-defined model on top of the very ruin),但另一層面意義上,what Deleuze is doing is exactly the resumption of the Nietzschean project, i.e., A « Metaphysical nihilism »。在本體論這層面上Deleuze的工作是雙重的!Fictional nihilism和Metaphysical nihilism的分類標準變成完全不適用。

當虛無主義要再現時,它沒有反省自身,它還是哲學的實在論、現代的高漲。可是,虛無主義要再現的是甚麼?是「純粹」的虛無主義。可是,後者並不可能再現,沒有東西若被再現的話,那麼再現本身便是虛構的了。既然沒有東西,再現便只能沉默,可是沉默無言亦是「片語」(李歐塔語)!一但意識到追尋純粹虛無主義的不可能,便進入虛構虛無主義,是為由形上學走向虛構的「離開運動」。(頁105)

04 「不是這個……不是這個……不是這個……」

最後亦是最重要的,當然便是海曼如何建構他的第三條路。由於還是用再現框架,庫比特的方案不在考慮之列。那麼RO為何不可取呢?為何必須拒絕元敘事呢?作者提出兩個原因:一、神學元敘事又是唯我獨尊;二、這種元敘事有不穩定性從內部解構的情況(頁6)。

作者指出,RO雖然反對現代二元論,處處流露另一種二元對立,一種前現代的二元論:神學優先於哲學,神聖優先於世俗(頁72)。元敘事本身就是暴力的, 它要定位(position)別人,把被定位的話語扭曲和施暴,共冶一爐,沒有他者

  • Milbank的RO敘事真的很有辯證結構主義的況味,這其實已經違反了敘事的精神。This is the reason why I think it will not outrun postliberal theology.

他批評,米爾班克缺少後現代作者的遊戲性格,言語又溫馴又沉重,而且 充滿全知、理性和護教的色彩,這通通都是神話系統的特色

米爾班克說,基督教內在有一種後現代性,作者批評說那肯定不是內在的,而是被建構的。作者指出,其實是米爾班克在重讀教義,他的說服力並非源自「基督教話語」,而是他那隱藏的理論、「米爾班克式」的元敘事,正在補充基督教敘事。米爾班克的反哲學神學,本身就是某一哲學所定位的,那裡是海德格─德里達─維根斯坦的空間(頁89)。作者又說,米爾班克的爭戰式敘事,也是為另一個元敘事所補充,那就是虛無主義,他的戰鬥策略無非是虛無主義的。

  • But I also part my company with Hyman at this point. 如果回到遊戲、游牧、穿梭、懸宕這些中庸狀態就是海曼神學的結論的話,那樣根本就不是有建設性的基督教神學。從學術上說來也不過就是用微波爐加熱回收De Certeau [in sociology]、Deleuze [in continental philosophy] 的哲學冷飯罷了。
  • 我對海曼失望了。你自己那套還不是De Certeau、Deleuze式的後現代?拿來說嘴更沒意義。事實上你還忽略了Milbank擁有Gadamer、Ricoeur這邊的力量。基督教內在有一種後現代性一語事實上已經夠大膽了。海德格等人所做的,不過是還原並定向人類能夠詮釋真理的確切框架(背景請播放胡塞爾現象學動畫謝謝)

海曼認為,元敘事必須從外面補充,提醒其虛構性(頁66)。他不認為元敘事是必要的,雖然它有回歸的可能,但它並不穩定。如果元敘事不是必要的,虛無主義便不是必須被棄的了(頁69)。他認為,虛構虛無主義需要神學的補充,神學亦需要虛構虛無主義的補充

  • 補充兩字也用得很妙。In fact it is only in the Derridian Différance that the messianic hope is given the ultimate substance and the exclusivity.

那是一個終極優先性被無限推延的空間,一個神學並虛無主義的空間(頁114)。因為,虛無主義使形上學之上帝死了,讓出空間,使信仰之上帝的回歸成為可能。作者又提出創造與虛無的關係作類比:沒有虛無,無從掌握創造,而且,虛無不是一次性地被克服,所有被造都有「走向虛無」的傾向。這顯然是奧古斯丁的創造神學,一種直線的時間觀

最後,海曼引入迪雪圖的概念,提出不斷的「非此…非此…非此…」,這個運動受著一個不可命名、不可再現的他者所引動,這個他者就是純粹虛無主義。這裡的邏輯是「非此/非彼」,不同於現代的「非此/即彼」,或是「現代後現代主義」的「亦此/亦彼」(頁119)。

  • 這邊應該是還有觀念發展的空間,我不想急於否定。然而他還是有一種「存在與虛無」二元對立的味道,也類似中世紀和早期現代已經用過的否定神學:因為無從指涉,便用雙重否定的方式來間接肯定現象界線外的他者。但這套進路跟Hick的應用思維實在太像了。問題同樣是:沒有人希望自己的信仰是建立在虛無主義上的。

雖然迪雪圖和泰勒都是談論「非此/非彼」,都存在著他者,但泰勒只肯定了「否定」,卻拒絕涉入,最終只能被放逐到沙漠(頁127)。相反,迪雪圖要求我們回到肉身、群體,而不是走到沙漠。海曼的方案是:「亦離開亦回歸……亦虛無主義亦上帝……亦始亦終……亦反/神學亦神學……」(頁22)。不是RO的「上帝之城」,不是庫比特的實現終末,不是泰勒的沙漠,而是被逐到一個「中間地帶」(頁148),沒有終站,只有中途站。

  • Lame.

由此可見,「後現代」作為模態,也不是單一的模態,它的內部存在著矛盾而競逐的敘事,評論它時根本不能一概而論。它可以是高呼一切皆相對,可以是打倒一切 傳統,也可以是破除偶像,或是對「他者」的執著。至於「所有知識皆敘事知識」或者「終極優先性被無限推延」是不是你那杯茶,海曼的敘事又是否動聽,那就留給讀者們去選擇了,畢竟後現代就是一個只有口味的世代。

  • 終極優先性是被無限推延,但也是無限地逼近。天國已近,現在就是了。同時復活的盼望已經賜下,初熟的果子已經可嚐。這是神結的果子,不是人選的口味。

[文摘] 新正統運動Neo-orthodoxy (from Wikipedia)

Neo-orthodoxy,

in Europe also known as theology of crisis and dialectical theology,[1][2] is an approach to theology in Protestantism that was developed in the aftermath of the First World War (1914-1918). It is characterized as a reaction against doctrines of 19th century liberal theology and a more positive reevaluation of the teachings of the Reformation, much of which had been in decline (especially in western Europe) since the late 18th century.[3] It is primarily associated with two Swiss professors and pastors, Karl Barth[4](1886-1968) and Emil Brunner (1899-1966),[1][2] even though Barth himself expressed his unease in the use of the term.[5]

Revelation

There is a strong emphasis on the revelation of God by God as the source of Christian doctrine. Natural theology, whose proponents include Thomas Aquinas (13th Century) states that knowledge of God can be gained through a combination of observation of nature and human reason. It is a very controversial topic within contemporary Christianity. Barth totally rejected natural theology because he believed our vision is clouded by the distortions of our transgressions, or sins. Brunner, on the other hand, believed that natural theology still had an important, although not decisive, role. This led to a sharp disagreement between the two men, the first of several controversies that prevented the movement from acquiring a monolithic, homogeneous character, unusual given the tendency of theological systems to produce conformity to precepts established by a revered founding figure (but somewhat akin to the relationship of Sigmund Freud to his disciples).

  • But Hauerwas’ account of Thomistic natural theology says that natural law can be never divorced from virtue and practices of faith. For Aquinas this is non-issue. Now if it really has to be separated, then I am for Brunner’s idea in terms of the function of natural law.

Transcendence of God

Most neo-orthodox thinkers stressed the transcendence of God. Barth believed that the emphasis on the immanence of God had led human beings to imagine God to amount to nothing more than humanity writ large
(特筆)大書されて;大規模に. He stressed the « infinite qualitative distinction » between the human and the divine, a reversion to older Protestant teachings on the nature of God and a rebuttal against the intellectual heritage of philosophical idealism. This led to a general devaluation of philosophical and metaphysical approaches to the faith, although some thinkers, notably Paul Tillich, attempted a median course between strict transcendence and ontological analysis of the human condition, a stand that caused a further division in the movement.

Existentialism

Some of the neo-orthodox theologians made use of existentialism. Rudolf Bultmann (who was associated with Barth and Brunner in the 1920s in particular) was strongly influenced by his sometime colleague at Marburg, the German existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger. Reinhold Niebuhr and (to a lesser extent, and mostly in his earlier writings尼布爾後來轉向高派文化批判,也是以此聞名。卻想不到早年是個體存在主義者!) Karl Barth were influenced by the writings of the 19th century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard was a critic of the then-fashionable liberal Christian modernist effort to rationalise Christianity, to make it palatable to those whom Friedrich Schleiermacher, a liberal, deemed the « cultured despisers of religion. » Instead, under pseudonymous names such as Johannes Climacus, he maintained that Christianity is absurd (transcends human understanding) and presents the individual with paradoxical choices. The decision to become a Christian is not fundamentally a rational decision but a leap of faith. Opponents of Kierkegaard’s approach and neo-orthodoxy in general have termed this fideism, a blatant refusal to find support for the faith outside its own circles. For the most part, proponents rebut that no such support exists, that supposed reasons and evidences for faith are fabrications of fallen human imagination, in effect constituting idolatry, a grave sin consistently condemned in the Bible. Some neo-orthodox has gone so far as to claim greater affinity with atheists in that regard than with the theological and cultural trappings外部標誌; 服飾, 禮服; 外表的裝飾 of so-called « Christendom, » which Kierkegaard venomously denounced in his later works.

  • Hauerwas在這點上整合了Barth, Kierkegaard, and Thomas。他發覺基督王國本身是具有唯信基礎(只是後來在大部分神職人員中間喪失了)的自然神學。

Sin and human nature

In neo-orthodoxy, sin is not seen as mere error or ignorance; it is not something than can be overcome by reason, intellectual reflection, or social institutions (e.g., schools); it can only be overcome by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Sin is seen as something unholy within human nature itself.[6] This amounts to a renovation of historical teachings about original sin (especially drawing upon Augustine of Hippo), although [Neo-orthodox] thinkers generally avoided forensic interpretations of it and consequential elaborations about total depravity, as was favored by past generations in formulating dogma and—by extension—hierarchical systems of ecclesiastical domination. The means of supposed transmission of sin is not anywhere as important as its pervasive reality, to neo-orthodox minds.

  • 例如說Niebuhr從結構上著手。而如果稱義的本質無法在任何人類經驗層面上被再現,那麼它就是一種唯信的神學形上學!可是憑什麼非基督徒們會要接受這種無法被再現的說法呢?一定是因為經驗和理性說服了他們、告訴他們現下的生活缺少了些什麼、是不完美的(在神學語言上,這樣經驗理性結構傳統的複合人格轉化被稱為聖靈的工作)。而如果信與不信的人在宣教與傳福音的對話中是有語言可以使用的(as opposed to merely through love and action),那麼唯信的神學形上學就很難站得住腳—因為一個跨越信仰藩籬的普遍性基礎才是你們宣教的本質信仰(working assumption of mission)。
  • Hauerwas的合一進路在這點上顯得非常地不明確。也就是說,這樣的教會即是對內取得了大公性、合一性,也無法說明它在公眾領域的參與上該如何才能取得更大的突破。我們能確信一個高度合一的教會能給社會帶來很大的影響力,然而在不願放棄唯信基礎的前提下,它的終極形式將是Constantinism–但這樣政教合一的「下一個基督王國」(the next Christendom)會是你想要試圖再現的嗎?
  • It seems to me right now the way to solve the problem mentioned in first paragraph lies on the introduction of the idea of ‘analogy’, ‘narrative theology’, and the ‘kerygmatic’ aspect of Missio Dei. 這樣看來,是必須沖淡唯信色彩的。導入「類比」、「敘事」、「神透過宣講工作」等觀念,可以解釋基督信仰明明是唯信式的,和異教徒溝通信仰卻仍然是可能的。

As such, the association of original sin with sexuality produces nothing but moralism, a rectitude that is overly optimistic and quite delusional about human capabilities to resist the power of unfaith and disobedience in all areas of life, not just sexual behavior. This core conviction about the universality and intransigence of sin has elements of determinism, and thus has caused considerable offense to those holding that human beings are capable of effecting their salvation wholly or in part (i.e., synergism). In other words, neo-orthodoxy might be said to have a greater appreciation of tragedy in human existence than either conservatism or liberalism, a point emphasized by a latter-day interpreter of the movement, Canadian theologian Douglas John Hall.

  • 唯信主義既堅持「聖靈工作」這樣的神學語言是更基礎的社會心理學描述,就無可避免地要接納「命定論」、排斥「雙工論」。

Relation to Other Theologies

Neo-orthodoxy is distinct from both liberal Protestantism and evangelicalism, but it cannot properly be considered a mediating position between the two, although some interpreters have tried to press it into that role. Neo-orthodoxy draws from various Protestant theological heritages (primarily Lutheran and Calvinist ones) in an attempt to rehabilitate Christian dogmas largely outside the restraints of Enlightenment thought. However, its adherents saw no value at all in rehabilitating tradition for its own sake, unlike confessionalist or fundamentalist reactions to subjectivist, individualist approaches (past or present) to the Christian faith. The doctrinal heritage of Protestantism’s past is used only to the degree that said tradition affirms the living Word of God in Jesus Christ; propositions in and of themselves, whether from the Biblical text or from human statements of faith, are not sufficient to build theology upon, in their eyes (hensce « post-propositionalism »). Also, in the political pursuit of social justice and intellectual freedom and honesty, the neo-orthodox, unlike the conservatives they were accused by detractors of resembling, often made practical alliances with liberals, as both groups shared a deep hostility to authoritarianism of any kind, in both church and state.

  • 這段有點過度概括…。對Tillich and Niebuhr來說是如此,對Barth就絕對不適用。而把這三人同樣歸在Neo-orthodoxy的標題下本身就是荒謬。

The broadness of the term « neo-orthodox », however, has led to its abandonment as a useful classification, especially after new emphases in mainline Protestant theology appeared during the 1960s. These included 1) the « Death of God » movement, which attacked the linguistic and cultural foundations of all previous theology, and 2) a renewal of interest among Biblical scholars in the so-called « historical Jesus, » something which neo-orthodox theologians largely dismissed as irrelevant to serious Christian faith. However, some of the movement’s positions and worldviews would inform later movements such as 3) liberation theology during the 1970s and 1980s從and 4) postliberalism during the 1990s and 2000s, although distinct theologically and ethically from both (i.e., liberationist use of Marxist conceptual analysis and narrativist dependence upon virtue theory, none of which is found in most older neo-orthodox thought).

  • 這邊忽略了福音派的聖經神學運動。
  • Liberation theology(Tillich and Niebuhr這一派高等社會批判神學衍生+Marxism)和post-liberal theology(從Barth and Brunner這一派唯信主義和新啟示論中衍生+ narrative theology+ new hermeneutical movement+ virtue theory)兩者如果能整合就太棒了!儘管曾慶豹是我看到最接近這個神學願景的人,然而其徹底的「語言轉向」卻不啻於在Lindbeck最脆弱的cultural-linguistic沙堡上繼續建構語言巴別塔。
  • 在我看來,從「關係神學」才能最完整地取兩者之長。Bonhoeffer, Hans Frei, and von Balthasar會是更適合的橋樑、根基。

Influence upon American Protestantism

From its inception, this school of thought has largely been unacceptable to Protestant evangelicalism, since neo-orthodoxy generally accepts biblical criticism and has remained mostly silent on the perceived conflicts caused by evolutionary science, and in espousing these two viewpoints, it retains at least some aspects of 19th-century liberal theology.[7] This is in keeping with its stated aim not to commit to specific theories of verbal inspiration of the Bible, seeing them utterly subordinate (if important at all) to the transformative event of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Although a few evangelicals have sought a rapport with neo-orthodoxy, most notably the Americans Donald Bloesch (PhD of U of C) and Bernard Ramm (see Vanhoozer’s academic engagement with him in « The Voice and the Actor: A Dramatic Proposal about the Ministry of Theology » in Evangelical Futures, 2000 ed. John Stackhouse), they have convinced very few on either side that the two positions are compatible enough to form a working relationship. One reason for this is that evangelicalism, in keeping with its aims to produce conversion experiences, is far more concerned with the accessibility of its ideas to a large audience, as opposed to the primarily academic approach (i.e., paradox, irony), and thus intellectual difficulty, which neo-orthodoxy espouses.

  • 只要想:對一般初入門的信徒來說,相信「聖經有絕對無上正確性和權威」,比起解釋「其背後複雜的詮釋學效應(交響神學、詮釋循環、啟示載體)」來得容易許多就知道了。
  • 可惜福音派在哲學上取巧的簡便作法,也使其在社會批判上無力、不到位、對高知識份子和權要人士欠缺對話支點和說服力。

In fact, some neo-orthodox thinkers such as Reinhold Niebuhr have accused evangelicals of over-simplifying biblical interpretation and complex doctrines in order to intimidate hearers into accepting the faith. In so doing, they [Evangelicals] are accused of often totally ignoring aspects of the Bible not immediately related to soteriology or personal morality, such as the prophets’ denunciation of Israel’s pride and spiritual complacency and the Pauline understanding of the human predicament, of human inability to measure up fully to the standards of divine righteousness and justice.

The movement achieved its greatest receptivity in the U.S. during the mid-20th century, primarily within denominational traditions stemming from Reformation heritages such as Presbyterianism, those bodies of Lutheranism not professing strict confessionalism, and, to a lesser extent, the predecessor denominations of the present United Church of Christ. It was less influential among mainline Protestant groups with an Arminian theological orientation, such as the Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the Northern Baptists, with many pastors in these denominations opting to continue the traditions of American religious liberalism (while others firmly took their stands with evangelicalism). Generally speaking, along with other strands of liberal-oriented Protestantism, it had a far greater following among ministers than laypeople, and within the clergy ranks, primarily among theological educators.

  • 真有趣。通常只要瞭解詮釋本質和聖經內容的複雜性後,對從前天真的信仰觀念就有重新定位的必要。然而在講道時,很少有傳道人能把這樣的心路歷程誠實清晰地說出來。

Recent critical scholarship

German scholars have recently begun to warn English-speaking (i.e., « the Anglo-American world ») scholarship against too serious an application of neo-orthodoxy as a theological paradigm, calling such use a « neo-orthodox reading » or « neo-orthodox misreading » of a theologian’s work, especially that of the always well-respected Karl Barth.[8] Viewing Barth, his predecessors, and his contemporaries’ work in terms of historical forces and in relation to various earlier, shared, or later theological movements (e.g., theological paradigms) has, however, been and remains a valid method of scholarship.[9]

  • 從德國發起的一種重讀Barth運動。不過這個發展可以在也Stephen Long追溯Radical Orthodoxy的發展( »Radical Orthodoxy », Cambridge Introduction of Postmodern theology, 2003, ed. Vanhoozer)中看到。

Important Figures of the Movement