What is really at stake in this book are the differences, and similarities, between a faithlessness that disguises some form of commitment, and a faithfulness that is also more modest in its claims and cautious in working out its implications and practices. If this is the case, then the question, for me, becomes that of the nature and extent of the differences between these two forms of faith. What are the differences between (Critchley’s) faith of the faithless and the less strident forms of the faith of the faithful?
“The Practice of Prophetic Imagination” (Fortress, 2011).
This new book is for me a continuation of my earlier book, The Prophetic Imagination (Fortress, 1978). It is an attempt to think about “prophetic preaching” in the context of the US church where any prophetic dimension to evangelical faith is mostly unwelcome.
I have wanted at the outset to correct two most unfortunate caricatures of the prophetic. On the one hand, there is a conservative tradition that thinks that the prophets are primarily in the business of “predicting Christ.” Of course there is no such thing in this context. On the other hand, liberals regularly associate “the prophetic” with social justice and social action. But it strikes me how rarely the ancient prophets take up any specific issue of social justice.
In Simon Critchley’s Wildean confraternity or consorority of the faithless, faith is a commitment, a proclamation of fidelity to an infinite ethical demand which enacts a new form of subjectivity. As such, faith is not related to belief in the existence of God but to an experience that is shared by agnostics, atheists and theists alike. Faith, we might say, is a/theistic, cutting across such distinctions.
The editors of Political Theology are pleased to announce that the latest issue is now available on the web. Issue 13.1 (January 2012) features a guest editorial by Gerald J. Beyer of St Joseph’s University, Philadelphia who looks at the connections between today’s Occupy Wall Street movement and Poland’s Solidarity trade union movement of the early 1980s, and points to what this new activist turn on issues of social justice could signal for American political life.
The editorial and the reviews section are – as always – open access. The issue also carries articles by Andrew Brower Latz, Thomas A. James, Joseph Ballan, Kristen Tobey and Patrik Hagman.
This is a schism. Just because it is being orchestrated by smart, tall-steeple pastors who are our friends and evangelical theologians whom we have all respected doesn’t make it any less of one.
Religious truth is like troth, the experience of fidelity where one is affianced and then betrothed. What is true, then, is an experience of faith, and this is as true for agnostics and atheists as it is for theists. Those who cannot believe still require religious truth and a framework of ritual in which they can believe. At the core of Wilde’s remark is the seemingly contradictory idea of the faith of the faithless and the belief of unbelievers, a faith which does not give up on the idea of truth, but transfigures its meaning.