Radical Preaching

Can preaching again have something to say?
This blog marks the attempt to bring the theological vision of Radical Orthodoxy into the worship and preaching of the local church.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Autonomous Reason & Public Discourse

First, I want to thank those of you who gave me some recommended reading for pomo/continental philosophy... for starters, I got Smith's "Who's Afraid of Radical Orthodoxy?", and it's been very helpful (I have read his intro to RO, but I might have to re-read parts of it).

What I'd like to discuss here flows from that reading, and the other reading I've done in RO (and elsewhere: e.g. MacIntyre) to this point. If I've understood what I've read, one modern concept which comes under heavy fire is the notion of autonomous reason.

The critiques I've read of this notion are compelling to me, but I'm not yet completely sold. Among other concerns, I'm worried that one consequence of these critiques is that public political discourse among those with differing presuppositions is -- for all intents and purposes -- impossible. And with the highly partisan political atmosphere we already have, the idea that I can't appeal to someone's reason is disconcerting and troubling one. If there is no autonomous reason which acts as arbiter, how can I say, "come, let us reason together"?

What am I missing?

8 Comments:

Blogger Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

With regard to preaching, especially as a way to move beyond the deductive reasoning that is at the base of much Protestant preaching, you might check out the work of Fred Craddock, the father of inductive preaching. Craddock is a Disciples pastor/teacher -- one of the best. Also check out Mike Graves, Sermons as Symphonies, Judson Press.

May 11, 2006 7:37 PM  
Blogger Deep Furrows said...

Chris,
I was surprised by a claim about reason made recently in the Japery.

The post cites Eric Vogelin:
"The unfolding of noetic consciousness in the psyche of the classic philosophers is not an 'idea,' or a 'tradition,' but an event in the history of mankind. The symbols developed in its course are 'true' in the sense that they intelligibly articulate the experience of existential unrest in the process of becoming cognitively luminous."

What do you think of this quote from Voegelin?

June 16, 2006 3:37 PM  
Anonymous James Church said...

I think 'come let us reason together' presupposes the kind of community that can sustain Christian ideas as possible. MacIntyre is not doing away with our ability to reason but challenging the extent to which our ability to reason can provide us as individuals with the access to the truth. Truth exists in relation to concrete life and practices and must be sought within that life. It is not only our ability to reason with one another that will provide the answers to our questions but rather it is our ability to live with one another and witness each others confessions, practices, discipline. The weakness in RO is its tendency to divorse us as Christians from concrete practises and disiplines, ecclesiastical authority and inherited doctrines which make our faith intelligible. I am afraid that Milbank's 'speculative grasp' simply returns us to Kant's potency of moral choice. I hate to say it but I think RO as new theology looks decidedly old.

July 21, 2006 10:40 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

"The weakness in RO is its tendency to divorse us as Christians from concrete practises and disiplines, ecclesiastical authority and inherited doctrines which make our faith intelligible."

James,
I am unsure about your reading of RO. It is specifically in these areas that RO stakes its claim. The speculative aspects of RO are made to counter the fierce determinism of much of liberal Protestantism.

Where do you see this claim in RO?

July 25, 2006 10:36 AM  
Anonymous James Church said...

You require me to be specific- read 'the word made strange' by Milbank. In this book, Milbank makes it clear that instead of being addressed by God in Scripture we have to become co-creators of revelatory meaning. In doing so RO's tends towards spiritualising the carnal and real.

You may say fine that is your issue with RO's approach to scripture but what of tradition and church order? Well, consider the editor's introduction to 'Radical Orthodoxy' in which is written 'Christianity has never sufficiently valued the mediating participatory sphere which alone can lead us to God'. RO then is engaged in the theological practice of re-visioning Christian faith and thus theology becomes creative (and the theologian a redemptive visionary) rather than receptive and reiterative.

Do you see why I am uncomfortable with these aspects of Radical Orthodoxy? I am not being intentionally disagreeable just grappling with the issues and as a theologian I am aware of my own 'will to power' in the process.

July 30, 2006 1:40 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

I think you are reading to much in to what Milbank says. The ideas that Milbank brings forward in The Word Made Strange is participatory, but I do not see how he abandons the address of God. Indeed, if you read Catherine Pickstock's After Writing, you will find that it is in the revelation of God that comes in the liturgy and especially the Eucharistic liturgy that gives meaning to all words. However, once we have been addressed by God, we are called to participate in that address. I believe this is much closer to Milbank's position. I'm not sure where we see any of the great Christian theologians as reiterative. They were all creative. I'm wondering whether or not you come from a Reformed perspective?

July 30, 2006 7:11 PM  
Anonymous james church said...

I was converted within a pentecostal church, nurtured within an evangelical reformed church, served as a youth and childrens worker in an anglican church, and trained at an evangelical methodist bible college, but my theology has been greatly influenced by the anabaptists through the writings of John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas.

July 31, 2006 5:55 AM  
Anonymous James Church said...

I was thinking about your comment about no great theologians being reiterative and I'm not sure you are right- all Christian theology rests on the work of God in history to some extent great theology is about claiming the authority of that witness. The trick is to apply repeat or evoke scripture within the correct context claiming its authority rather than relying on your own- I do not disagree with the idea that such engagement requires creative engagement but if it is merely creative then I think we have strayed too far.

August 01, 2006 3:49 AM  

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