Book Review Wednesday

Right now I’m reading “Theology & Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason” by John Milbank.  Milbank is an Anglican theologian who is at the forefront of a theological movement called “Radical Orthodoxy.”  Radical Orthodoxy is more about reclaiming our Christian narrative in the face of, what Milbank calls, neo-pagan secular thought.

Already in the first 50 pages, Milbank has blown my mind.  Milbank makes two claims right off the bat that I love.  First, Christians must not fall prey to the modern notion of inherent property rights.  He claims that this is a misreading of God giving Adam dominion over creation.  Modern political theory has taken this dominion to mean property rights and “might makes right.”  This only leads to a desire to control, to set up ourselves as sovereign powers, when in fact God is the sovereign power.

Second, Milbank claims that we have been duped by language of “the guiding hand of the market.”  We hear this all the time: “the market works itself out,” “our capitalist economy is the best,” and “our free-market system empowers laborers and employers.”  These notions, however, are built upon an appropriation of the doctrine of providence.  For Christians, “you intended it for evil, but God intended it for good (Genesis 50:20).”  Modern political theory has simply taken God out and replaced Him with “the market.”

You can see the danger here.  The question is then – who do you rely upon?  Are you radically following God or the paganism of modern political theory?

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3 thoughts on “Book Review Wednesday

  1. The implications for “rights talk” are really significant. How much of our political discourse – the quest for “liberation” is bound up in this kind of highly suspect discourse? Jimmy will you repost this as a doc in our FP on FB group so everyone can appreciate your summary and insight?

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