This sparkling collection of essays invites readers to join a seasoned scholar on his journey to catch “radical theology" in action, both in the church and our culture at large.
Capturing a career’s worth of thought and erudition, this rich volume treats readers to creative thought, careful argumentation, and sophisticated analysis transmitted through the lucid, accessible prose that has earned the author a wide readership of academics and non-academics alike. In tackling “radical theology,” John D. Caputo has in mind the deeper stream that courses its way through various historical and confessional theologies, upon which these theologies draw even while it disturbs them from within. They are well served by this disturbance because it keeps them on their toes. When we read about professional theologians losing their job in confessional institutions, the chances are that, by earnestly digging into what is going on in their tradition, they have hit upon radical theological rock.
Under the flag of what he calls a “radicalization of the Catholic Principle,” Caputo offers an illuminating account of the resistance Catholicism throws up against its own idea of tradition and places it in juxtaposition to Paul Tillich’s “Protestant Principle.” Several essays examine the implications of Derrida for theology. Caputo compellingly argues that Derrida, who is his “favorite unofficial theologian” and “a devilish knight of faith,” is a perfect model for radical theology—and for radicalizing hope. Another fascinating piece takes up the unorthodox interest continental philosophers show in Augustine. Here Caputo addresses two camps of critics, some charging him with being an atheist, insinuating that radical theology does not take “real” religion seriously, while the other accuses him of not being an atheist, of just being Augustine redux.
One point running through all the essays is that, unlike modernist dismissals of religion, radical theology does not debunk but reinvents the theological tradition. Radical theology, Caputo says, is a double deconstruction—of supernatural theology on the one hand and of transcendental reason on the other, and therefore of the settled distinctions between the religious and the secular. Caputo also addresses the challenge for radical theology to earn a spot in the curriculum, given that the “radical” makes it suspect among the confessional seminaries while the “theology” renders it suspect among university seminars. Journeying from the academy to contemporary American culture, In Search of Radical Theology includes a captivating presentation of radical political theology for the time of Trump. This utterly unique volume not only brings readers on an enlightening tour of Caputo’s thought but invites us to accompany the author as he travels into intriguing new territories.