D. Stephen Long on theology and culture

D. Stephen Long’s formulation of a live dispute on the question of theology and culture

[Kathryn] Tanner’s postmodern feminist theology is more of a “style” of theology than a distinct practice or culture. Christianity never has enough of its own substance such that it can be an “alternative society” or a distinct culture. […] But if postmodern feminist theology argues Christianity in no way functions as a culture with a logic intrinsic to its own language, it differs greatly from radical orthodoxy. Thus, Kathryn Tanner, one of the ablest proponents of postmodern feminist theology, finds that radical orthodoxy, like Lindbeck’s postliberal theology, assumes a too easily defined and stable Christian identity. Radical orthodox theologians would tend to find Tanner’s position too allied to certain trends in postmodernity that identify cultures only by what they oppose, that is to say, these postmodern accounts of culture tend to be “reactive.” Because they do not contain any inherent logic internal to their practices, they can only be identified by their adoption and opposition to the borrowed cultural products that can alone allow us to recognize them at all. This means that they are not only “mediating,” which is to say that they express theology by mediating it in and through available cultural forms, but they are also “accommodating,” they accommodate those cultural forms to such an extent that they finally subordinate the logic inherent in Christianity to the logic inherent in the secular rationality by which most accounts of culture are presented to us, especially as they are given to us by the social sciences.

from Theology and Culture: A Guide to the Discussion, (JamesClarke&Co, 2008), 100-101.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s