Cultural theorists, a broad term for academics in the humanities considered to be post-modern and post-Marxist, “are now turning to analysis and exposition of the conceptual resources and classic texts of Christianity as prompts and supports for their own work.”
In First Things magazine (August/September), Paul Griffiths writes that such prominent cultural theorists as Terry Eagleton, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek have attempted to rehabilitate Christian themes and writings to breathe new life into their cultural criticism and theories. Eagleton has moved beyond Marxism to reclaim concepts and language from Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas to sustain his theories on justice and virtue in a world dominated by the free market.
Badiou has turned to St. Paul to elucidate his concepts of political freedom and universalism to counter particular ideologies. Griffiths notes, however, that Badiou has little use for the traditional Christian content in Paul’s writings. In contrast, Zizek sees biblical Christianity as depicting a “community of those free from political and economic domination,” even if he makes little room for the organized church.
He also views Christ’s death as a “self-sacrificial gesture of renunciation.” Griffiths concludes that “these yearnings of pagan or half-pagan cultural theorists for a Christianity half-forgotten or never properly known,” fall outside the parameters of orthodox Christianity, yet Christians need to engage such thinkers.
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