John Milbank’s Nazarene Heritage

The Church of the Nazarene (CoN) arose  out of the American Holiness Movement, and the Anglo-Catholic British theologian, John Milbank, has roots in it. I find this to be a pretty interesting fact in itself. I imagine the young John Milbank (who in my mind looks exactly the way he does now, only shorter), sitting cross-armed at a revival service while ladies with big hair and no jewelry run up and down the aisle shouting, “Glory!”  Continue reading “John Milbank’s Nazarene Heritage”

The Kingdoms of God and Constantine

So now I am going to sum up Part II of Orthodoxy without Empire. Last time I talked about the church-culture limen and two inadequate ways of relating to it. In Part II, I argue that a more coherent account of this limen can actually be found in the rubble of the Byzantine Empire. I know that sounds counterintuitive when you consider that one of the options I criticize is a kind of neo-imperialism, but hear me out, because I think what I am working toward is actually an anti-imperialistic. It’s this socio-political ideal called symphonia.

Continue reading “The Kingdoms of God and Constantine”

The Funny Thing About Limens…

This post started with me trying to sum up Part 2, but then it turned into one great big digression, which made me realize that I needed to spend a bit more time talking about why I feel the need to criticize Milbank and Hauerwas, and why I really don’t want to.

Read this!
Read this!

Here is the thing about Milbank and Hauerwas: I like them! I want to agree with them! The trouble is that, when it comes to Hauerwas, the communities he describes don’t actually seem to exist. The narrative power of the tradition does not work the way he says it does, even granting the imperfections inherent in a fallen world. As for Milbank, I actually find his theology a bit too liberal. This is an insight I owe to Paul DeHart’s book Trial of the Witnesses. (Full disclosure: Prof. DeHart was on my dissertation committee, he is a hardass of a teacher in the best way, and one of the most capable readers I have ever met.) The book is more or less about how everybody is misreading Lindbeck. One takeaway is that Lindbeck is actually pretty liberal because what is “real” is less important than what we believe is real. (His point is much more nuanced than that, but what do you expect? This is a blog.) That is what I get from Milbank. Everything seems to boil down to the stories that you tell, which to me seems just a step to the right of somebody like Paul Tillich, who subordinates the truth of narratives to the meaning we find in them. Continue reading “The Funny Thing About Limens…”