Again on retrieval: Radical Orthodoxy

Another short excerpt from my paper in New Orleans (at Earl’s request):

[S]ome theologies of retrieval offer fresh genealogies of modernity in order to reinvigorate the possibility that postmodern (or late modern) theology might find continuity with the classical Christian tradition. Radical Orthodoxy is one such path. While highly diverse, it shares a common refusal of the language of secularity and autonomy which finds its genesis, on its reading, in modernity.

As a form of ressourcement, the argument is not for a nostalgic return to the theology and politics of the middle ages, instead, it argues (according to Simon Oliver) that “the riches of the orthodox Christian tradition of faith and reason, theology and philosophy, can be deployed not only as a possible solution to the problems of late modernity, but as the only solution.” Theirs is clearly retrieval, but not of practices or even wisdom, but the recovery of relationships and priorities, one that can only be accomplished by a radical retrieval of premodern modes of Christian thinking that refuses marginalization by metaphysics.


7 thoughts on “Again on retrieval: Radical Orthodoxy

  1. What is meant by the phrase “marginalization by metaphysics”? (I may have missed an important aspect of this discussion published at an earlier date, if so, I apologize.) In this setting does that imply a denial of the miraculous as a part of Christian orthodoxy, or is this referring to a Platonic worldview?

  2. Ryan, I think this marginalization is probably the separation of the transcendent from the material. Milbank opens his “Theology and Social Theory” by saying “once there was no ‘secular.'” Milbank and other adherents of RO want to get away from the notion that the material world is not suspended from the transcendent, as Duns Scotus said was the case. RO wants Christians to affirm the world – to affirm the goodness of materiality.

    • Yes, precisely. This carries over into RO’s appraisal of what “secular” might mean as well. The critique applies to the myth that a “secular” might exist at all, that any way of seeing the world would be without its own religious dynamics.

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