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Many Christians view relativism as the antithesis of absolute truth and take it to be the antithesis of the gospel. Smith argues that this reaction is a symptom of a deeper theological problem: an inability to honor the contingency and dependence of our creaturehood. Appreciating our created finitude as the condition under which we know (and were made to know) should compel us to appreciate the contingency of our knowledge without sliding into arbitrariness. Saying "It depends" is not the equivalent of saying "It's not true" or "I don't know." It is simply to recognize the conditions of our knowledge as finite, created, social beings. Pragmatism, says Smith, helps us recover a fundamental Christian appreciation of the contingency of creaturehood.
This addition to an acclaimed series engages key thinkers in modern philosophy with a view to ministry and addresses the challenge of relativism in a creative, original way.
The Church and Postmodern Culture series features high-profile theorists in continental philosophy and contemporary theology writing for a broad, nonspecialist audience interested in the impact of postmodern theory on the faith and practice of the church.
Number of Pages: 160
Vendor: Baker Academic
Publication Date: 2014
|Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)|
Series: Church and Postmodern Culture
Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church (The Church and Postmodern Culture)James K.A. SmithBaker Books / 2006 / Trade Paperback$12.99 Retail:5 Stars Out Of 5 2 Reviews
$19.99Save 35% ($7.00)
Whose Community? Which Interpretation? Philosophical Hermeneutics for the ChurchMerold WestphalBaker Academic / 2009 / Trade Paperback$27.50
The Economy of Desire: Christianity and Capitalism in a Postmodern WorldDaniel M. BellBaker Academic / 2012 / Trade Paperback$18.49 Retail:
$22.00Save 16% ($3.51)
-Ronald A. Kuipers,
author of Richard Rorty
BibliophileIndiana, PAAge: Over 65Gender: Male5 Stars Out Of 5Tired of being god?February 23, 2017BibliophileIndiana, PAAge: Over 65Gender: MaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5The idol of modernity's certainty will topple before the contingency of creaturely confession and humble truth claims.
Mr BultitudeVancouverAge: 18-24Gender: Male4 Stars Out Of 5Excellent Engagement With RelativismAugust 22, 2014Mr BultitudeVancouverAge: 18-24Gender: MaleQuality: 4Value: 5Meets Expectations: 4I am very grateful for James K.A. Smith's scholarship. Modeling St. Augustine's "looting of the Egyptians," Smith ably appropriates insights of non-Christian philosophers and thinkers and demonstrates how their thought can constructively impact and orient theology and Christian practice.
Overall, I preferred the earlier "Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?" to this book, largely because at the time I read it I was finishing up my undergrad in sociology and Foucault is one of that discipline's key contributors. "Who's Afraid of Relativism?" explores the work of Wittgenstein, Rorty and Brandom (I had never heard of Brandom until reading this book). Smith criticizes those who abhor any hint of sympathy with relativism because they claim it will lead to nihilism; Smith argues that admitting our relativism is NOT necessarily going to lead someone into nihilism. I think Smith makes convincing arguments for Christians to adopt "relativist" and "pragmatic" approaches although I he could have explained himself more succinctly. He effectively points to the Incarnation as the ultimate act of condescension to mankind, an act necessary because of our contingency and creaturehood. His main point is that we can't just have cognitive belief or ecstatic expression; Christians need to be in community and be taught practices that orient us to Christ. Chapter 5 is the KEY chapter in which all the insights of the three philosophers are brought together and woven together with how the Church should act. I was a bit wary that Smith would entirely withdraw "natural law" from the table (to the horror of apologists!) but he affirms that there ARE indeed universals but that they can only be understood by being gifted with the interpretive lens of faith. The relativism discussed here is not so much MORAL relativism but the fact that are knowledge and practices are dependent upon context and circumstances.
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