Most of the time, I try not to engage in blog debates.  But there is one that has come to a head over the past couple of days and one that I can’t resist: the debate between those who side with an ecclesiocentric theology vs. an apocalyptic strain.  The later position claims that the former remains too committed to a particular site and cannot account for ‘other’ positions or the deconstruction of dichotomies, such as church/world or sacred/secular.  It might be right to see the apocalyptic position as offering “a kind of avante-garde humanity” (so says a recent post by A. Kotsko).  But what’s more interesting is that the apocalyptic crusaders’ arguments come to resemble a nascent Hegelianism and somehow Barth plays a part in this, as Steve Long points out (he briefly posted a response at The Church and Postmodern Culture, which seems to have been pulled).  The maintaining of a particular site, such as a church, needs to be overcome (or better yet, evacuated) and once within its emptied shell we can at last welcome the in-breaking of the Kingdom.  You can take Barth out of Germany, but you can’t take the German influence out of Barth, or so it seems.   

This is way too brief of a summary.  But what I find so underdeveloped in the apocalyptic position is that it’s begun to border on a mere method, and a abstract one at that.  Apocalyptic, insofar as it has become a method, is abstract because it’s still championed in a divisive Protestant mode.  What I mean is that apocalyptic becomes emptied of it’s metaphysical content; there’s a direct refusal of mystagogy and a wariness around (Catholic/Eastern Orthodox?) modes of liturgical worship.  Consider Thesis 4: “To seek a direct correspondence between leitourgia (“the work of the people”) and divine action is to forget that worship itself is a “perpetual factory of idols” (Calvin).”  Wow.   

At the end of the day, this form of apocalyptic seems little more than an empty shell referring back to a by gone era, much like the burned and dilapidated parish churches that tarnish the utterly immanent landscape in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.  It’s still unclear to me how one can champion an apocalypsed universe, but want to do without the cosmological baggage that goes with it; such as sacraments, teleology, the natural desire for the supernatural, intermediary powers and yes, the analogia entis.  Ryan Hansen comments that apocalyptic means more than a new revelation, it also means a new ontology: “it is not just that we perceive the cosmos differently, but the cosmos is and has been revealed to be actually ontologically different” (Paul, Philosophy and Theopolitical Vision, 216).  It remains to be seen if the apocalyptic camp will see apocalyptic itself as something more than nominal.

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