Wednesday, 22 August 2012
Listening to Milbank: where does Anglicanism fit in?
This John Milbank lecture, delivered in Moscow earlier this year to an Orthodox audience, implicitly poses some important questions for Anglicanism. He begins to by setting the cultural and societal context for theology. The 'progressive' mode - shaped by 20th century liberal Protestant German theology - is, suggests Milbank, fundamentally stuck in the 1960s, failing to addressing a very changed context in which the relationship between state, market, society and church has radically altered.
A much more fruitful mode of theology, says Milbank, comes via creedal orthodoxy, nouvelle theologie and re-engagement with the Greek Patristic tradition, opening up the potential of a Church ironically better able to speak into a secular culture from the perspective of analogy, gift, beauty and imagination.
Towards the end of the lecture, Milbank interestingly notes the significance of the sacramentality of marriage to the Church's self-understanding. Notice also his reference to the importance of the exercise of the imagination by artists and literary figures in grasping the glory of Incarnation and Redemption.
Milbank is almost certainly the most influential and interesting theologian in the contemporary English-speaking world - and he's an Anglican. Anglicans should, then, be listening carefully to his insights and reflections. So what does the broad-sweep of theological trends given by Milbank in this lecture mean for Anglicanism? What does it mean that a significant portion of North Atlantic Anglicanism is still shaped by the passing paradigm of liberal Protestantism? What should be the theological focus for those seeking evangelical and catholic renewal within Anglicanism? And how can we as a Communion build on a school of theological renewal - Radical Orthodoxy - that offers much in service of the Church's mission and proclamation?
Posted by BC at 16:04