The news of modernity’s death has been greatly exaggerated. The Enlightenment project lives on in the notion of “the secular”–a zone decontaminated of religious belief. But the postmodern critique of modernity also calls into question the very notion of the secular, presenting an opportunity for questions such as, If modernity is essentially linked to the secular, shouldn’t Christians welcome the advent of postmodernity?
In Introducing Radical Orthodoxy, James K. A. Smith plays the role of a cartographer, mapping the landscape of contemporary theology and culture in order to introduce the distinctive voice of Radical Orthodoxy, which is associated with John Milbank, Graham Ward, Catherine Pickstock, and others. Radical Orthodoxy, he argues, has important things to say to both the academy and the church.
Radical Orthodoxy affirms that there is no “secular.” All is religious. If that is the case, Smith maintains, then the intellectual framework of all academic disciplines must be distinctively Christian. To deny this, he writes, is to fall victim to the modernist siren song of objective reason, which, in fact, is a pagan song in disguise. Radical Orthodoxy also challenges the church to a radical discipleship, resisting accommodation to a culture dominated by consumerism and violence.
Drawing on Augustine and Aquinas, engaged through the lenses of the Reformed thought of Calvin, Kuyper, and Dooyeweerd, Smith argues that Radical Orthodoxy is in an ideal position to articulate an old-but-new postmodern theology that resonates with the Reformed tradition.
Introducing Radical Orthodoxy will prove to be an invaluable guide, introducing an intellectual movement that challenges the church to consider the role of biblical revelation for all areas of life. It will find its place on the bookshelves of professors, students, and pastors.
Smith, James K. A., (Author)
Paternoster Press (2005), 272 pages