•  42
    Why the World Needs Negative Political Theology
    Modern Theology 36 (1): 5-12. 2020.
    Some theorists argue that religion relates to politics in one of two ways: either it asserts its authority over the public sphere or it withdraws from the world in preference for spiritual concerns. In response, this special issue offers an expanded vision of what political theology can contribute to public reflection. Against those who appropriate divine authority in support of a given regime, Jewish and Christian negative theology argues that God is radically elusive. Where resistance movement…Read more
  •  6
    This book argues that hope is the indispensable precondition of religious practice and secular politics. Against dogmatic complacency and despairing resignation, David Newheiser argues that hope sustains commitments that remain vulnerable to disappointment. Since the discipline of hope is shared by believers and unbelievers alike, its persistence indicates that faith has a future in a secular age. Drawing on premodern theology and postmodern theory, Newheiser shows that atheism and Christianity …Read more
  •  12
    “Religion” and Its Other
    Philosophy Today 62 (4): 1277-1282. 2018.
    Like Lambert, my instincts are informed by Derrida, but I think Derrida points toward an alternative approach. In my reading, although Derrida complicates the concept of religion in terms that intersect with recent scholarship in religious studies. Even though he is not “religious” in any obvious sense, Derrida draws on upon Jewish and Christian texts (among others) in developing his project. In this way, he suggests that the relation between these traditions and modernity is too complex to be c…Read more
  •  44
    Giorgio Agamben argues that Christian thought provides the paradigm of modern governmental power, which reinforces mundane government by investing it with glory. Agamben claims that Dionysius the Areopagite exemplifies this structure; in his view, Dionysian negative theology serves to sacralize ecclesiastical power. In response, I argue that Dionysius desacralizes every authority, affirming that some things are sacred even as he subjects that affirmation to thoroughgoing critique. Against both d…Read more
  •  26
    Derrida, Jacques. I. Derrida and Jewishness
    In D. Allison, V. Leppin, C. Seow, H. Spieckermann, B. D. Walfish & E. Ziolkowski (eds.), The Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception, Volume 6, Walter De Gruyter. 2013.
    Dictionary entry on Jacques Derrida's relation to Judaism.
  •  45
    Theology and the Secular
    Political Theology 17 378-89. 2016.
    Sarah Coakley’s God, Sexuality, and the Self constitutes a major intervention in the debate over the role of religion in the modern world. Coakley criticizes Christians who reject modernity altogether, arguing that Christian thought should remain in conversation with secular sources. At the same time, she claims that only theology can solve difficulties of widespread concern - for instance, concerning gender and sexuality. Where this suggests that theology is still superior, I argue that the str…Read more
  •  137
    Normative Political Theology as Intensified Critique
    Political Theology 19 (8): 669-674. 2018.
    Some theorists are suspicious of normative political theology because they believe it undermines critical rationality. In my view, these theorists neglect theological traditions that resist dogmatism through intensified critique. Because authoritarian dogma is not unique to religion, theology offers sophisticated techniques that may be useful for those who are not themselves religious. A normative theology that intensifies critique represents a valuable resource for political reflection, and not…Read more
  •  144
    Derrida and the Danger of Religion
    Journal of the American Academy of Religion 1 (86): 42-61. 2018.
    This paper argues that Jacques Derrida provides a compelling rebuttal to a secularism that seeks to exclude religion from the public sphere. Political theorists such as Mark Lilla claim that religion is a source of violence, and so they conclude that religion and politics should be strictly separated. In my reading, Derrida’s work entails that a secularism of this kind is both impossible (because religion remains influential in the wake of secularization) and unnecessary …Read more
  •  17
    review of Time and Philosophy: A History of Continental Thought. By John McCumber. Pp. x, 424, Acumen, 2011, $27.95
  •  23
    There is a tension in the Dionysian corpus between the resolute negativity of the Mystical Theology and Divine Names, on the one hand, and the affirmative confidence of the hierarchical treatises. Where the former works insist that God is entirely beyond created symbols, the latter speaks of "mediation" of the divine (CH XIII.4) and "a correlation between visible signs and invisible reality" (CH XV.5). Whereas the debate surrounding the Corpus tends to exaggerate one of these poles at the expens…Read more
  •  13
    Foucault and the Practice of Patristics
    In Markus Vinzent (ed.), Studia Patristica LXII, Peeters. 2013.
    This paper argues that, among the many ways in which the work of Michel Foucault may usefully contribute to the field of Patristics, his attention to the invention of concepts represents a valuable corrective to the tendency to read ancient texts through the lens of later settlements. The temptation to construe the history of doctrine as an harmonious process of development is frequently motivated by the conviction that tradition represents a sort of continuity; in response, Foucault's method he…Read more
  •  15
    Ambivalence in Dionysius the Areopagite: The Limitations of a Liturgical Reading
    In J. Baun, A. Cameron, M. Edwards & M. Vinzent (eds.), Studia Patristica XLVIII, Peeters. 2010.
    A growing number of scholars claim that the significance of the Corpus Areopagiticum is determined by an ecclesiastical context. When Dionysius demands the negation of every symbol in The Mystical Theology, Andrew Louth and Alexander Golitzin argue that this simply refers to the Christian liturgy. Yet although this reading has helped correct the tendency to reduce the Corpus to a manual for abstracted dogmatics, it obscures Dionysius's often radical negativity. On the one hand, Dionysius somet…Read more
  •  163
    Foucault, Gary Becker and the Critique of Neoliberalism
    Theory, Culture and Society 33 (5): 3-21. 2016.
    Although Foucault’s 1979 lectures on The Birth of Biopolitics promised to treat the theme of biopolitics, the course deals at length with neoliberalism while mentioning biopolitics hardly at all. Some scholars account for this elision by claiming that Foucault sympathized with neoliberalism; I argue on the contrary that Foucault develops a penetrating critique of the neoliberal claim to preserve individual liberty. Following Foucault, I show that the Chicago economist Gary Becker exemplifies wha…Read more
  •  20
    Gianni Vattimo describes a postmodern Christian faith, centered upon love to the exclusion of dogma, that takes its orientation from Joachim’s practice of spiritual interpretation and his view of historical progress towards the age of the Spirit; however, he misconstrues Joachim on both counts. Whereas Vattimo supposes that Joachim's spiritual interpretation of scripture replaces literal readings, Joachim thinks they operate harmoniously together. Likewise, where Vattimo supposes that the Age of…Read more
  •  188
    Sexuality and Christian Tradition
    Journal of Religious Ethics 43 (1): 122-145. 2015.
    This essay aims to clarify the debate over same-sex unions by comparing it to the fourth-century conflict concerning the nature of Jesus Christ. Although some suppose that the council of Nicaea reiterated what Christians had always believed, the Nicene theology championed by Athanasius was a dramatic innovation that only won out through protracted struggle. Similarly, despite the widespread assumption that Christian tradition univocally condemns homosexuality, the concept of sexuality is a ninet…Read more
  •  102
    Eckhart, Derrida, and The Gift of Love
    Heythrop Journal 56 (6): 1010-1021. 2015.
    This paper argues that Jacques Derrida and Meister Eckhart both construe love as a gift that is entirely free of economic exchange, and both conclude on this basis that love cannot be grasped or identified. In my reading, Eckhart and Derrida do not rule out consideration of one’s own well-being, but their accounts do entail that calculated self-protection is external to love. For this reason, they suggest, lovers should not expect to balance love against a prudential restraint: although both dem…Read more