Morrison, G. J. (2011). Book Review: Frederiek Depoortere, Christ in Postmodern Philosophy, T&T Clarke, London, 2008.. Heythrop Journal, 52 (1), 172-173.
The Leuven scholar Frederiek Depoortere has written a fascinating account of three contemporary postmodern thinkers, Gianni Vattimo, René Girard and Slavoj Žižek, and their attempts to do Christology. Depoortere writes in a very lucid fashion given the difficulty of his studies. The book critically reflects how these three unique philosophical approaches to Christology radically enforce a postmodern, even secular, outlook upon the Incarnation, Paschal Mystery and the Trinity. Immediately, the postmodern turn suggests a priority of cultural studies, politics, ideology, psychology and sociology over theology. For example rather than having a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Žižek seems to invoke Hegel the Father, Lacan the Son and Marx the Spirit. Vattimo too suppresses the heart of the Christian mysteries by suggesting that the event of the incarnation brings God's transcendence to an end to herald the awakening of a secular caritas. And Girard, although upholding Christianity's unique transcendent origin, takes up his postmodern brush to paint the Hebrew God as a divine phenomenon contaminated by violence. Together, all three share the perspective and danger of supercessionism in a way that seems to bring the spectre of Marcion back to theology. Žižek is perhaps the most haunting as he works hard to construct the mystery of Christ with pillars of ideology and history (Hegel), psychoanalysis (Lacan) and political economy (Marx); these three spectres even demonize Levinas' philosophy as a ‘vacuous Otherness’. Depoortere also leads the reader to encounter Vattimo's wrenching of Christology as a Freudian/Lacanian ‘objet petit a’ hell of frightful profanities. Could this then seem to reflect a disturbing trend in some forms of postmodern philosophy of hatred towards God and a despising of humankind in general? Or perhaps, does this represent the postmodern tendency towards exploring theology through a secular path?
Peer-reviewed, Christology, Postmodern Theology, Vattimo, Girard, Zizek, Levinas