"On Truth/Justice: Post-Secular Theology and the UK Emerging Church Milieu."
The cultural and philosophical contexts of the global emerging church, a diverse network interested in Christianity and the postmodern turn, have shaped the ways in which the nature, as well as the content, of religious truth is being conceived. Building upon qualitative data from the UK emerging church milieu, this thesis takes the notion of truth to be an exemplary site for the exploration of what I term “ordinary” phenomenology and theology. Phenomenologically, religious truth involves an event of the radical transformation of subjectivity and behaviour, the substantive evaluations of which are undecidable, contingent and fictive. Reflecting theologically on their determinate interpretations of truth, however, the two divergent strands within the data exhibit different levels of fictionality. The first strand operates with a determinately religious hermeneutic, stressing the possibility of nearing theological alethic realism through dialogue, while the second is more thoroughly a/theistic in relation to both religious and tragic hermeneutics, emphasising the auto-deconstructability of all interpretations.
These strands mirror two post-secular theological sensibilities that have been suggested as apt for the emerging church, James K.A. Smith’s Radically Orthodox ‘catholic postmodernism’ and John D. Caputo’s deconstructive ‘weak theology.’ The preceding discussions of truth raise and answer questions of Radical Orthodoxy’s out-narration of other religions and deconstructive theology’s practical viability. It is suggested that Caputo’s theology, embodied by the second strand in the data, is more fully fictionalist than Smith’s Milbankian post-secularism, and therefore preferable for the emerging church milieu, given the nature of participants’ common phenomenology of religious truth. This thesis contests the suggestion that such a thoroughgoing fictionalism entails alethic relativism, however, through emphasising participants’ exemplarism, following which it is uncertain whether truth is an example of justice, or justice an example of truth.
- continental philosophy of religion;
- deconstructive theology;
- emerging church;
- Radical Orthodoxy;