On his nicely redesigned blog, Aaron discusses Yale and Chicago approaches to doctrine: “Which came first, the mature chicken that is developed religious tradition, or the nascent egg of potentially-meaningful experience?”
As a student of Paul Ricoeur, I get ranked with the Chicago experientialists, but Ricoeur was also a major contributor to narrative theologies and recognized that shared narratives shaped experience as much as vice versa. There is much in the Yalies I like, but I always get uneasy thinking of theology as only a grammatical game.
Vanhoozer is another student of Ricoeur who appreciates the postliberal emphasis on narrative - but he diverges from them on the whole anti-realism thing. His newest theology tries to tie together narrative (drama of redemption) with experience (improvisation within the drama) and propositionalism (bible as script, theologian as director). I don't know if he pulls it off yet, but it sounds pretty good.
Here is where Paul DeHart's new - and splendid - The Trial of the Witnesses: The Rise and Decline of Postliberal Theology (reviewed recently by Ben) becomes essential reading. "The best image for the ongoing influence of the originary Yale thinkers is that of a river delta," suggests DeHart. And he also alerts all Yanks to the "quite indigenous [British] reaction against the liberalism of the 1960s and 1970s, one associated with such names as Rowan Williams, Nicholas Lash, Andrew Louth, Oliver O'Donovan, and Colin Gunton" - and, of course, John Webster. The basic point being: Chicago? Definitely not! But Yale? Not as we know it, Scottie! Tertium, quartum, . . . datur!
Thanks for all of these great comments -- lots more for me to think about and read.Thanks, Ben, for the link!
This "Yank" (hard for a Southerner to use the term for himself!) is certainly familiar with Nicholas Lash, O'Donovan, Gunton (we had many fascinating conversations in 2000 when we were both visiting profs @ Fuller in the strange country of Southern California!) and Webster. I don't know Louth. I need to read more Webster and Gunton, it's clear. I am far more suspicious of O'Donovan. Also, I would think Paul Fiddes to be an important voice among the UK non-Yale Postliberals, wouldn't you?
Sorry about the "Yank" bit, Michael, but as you have studied in the UK I know you are aware of its catch-all meaning. And I agree with you about O'Donovan (negatively) and Fiddes (positively). And I wish that I too didn't know Louth - he once skewered me over Augustine at a viva at Oxford!By the way, my father was born in New York and my mother in Georgia. Can I be saved?
Kim, with God all things are possible:--camels going through needle eyes, Yankees marrying Southerners and their offspring being saved, etc. :-) I'll bet your family reunions were interesting. No wonder you moved to the UK.Yes, in my brief time at Oxford (I'd love to figure out a way for a return visit some day) I got used to being "the Yank," --but I made everyone who called me such buy the next round at the pub! :-) (How did I accomplish this? Well, it helps that I am 6'3" and, at the time, was in fairly good shape and failed to mention my pacifism at precisely the right time to intimidate. :-) )
Suspicious about O'Donovan? !pourquoi? Has Just War/Pacificism become the ONLY issue?
Hi Michael J.Touché! O'Donovan is not just a "political" theologian, and has written some very good stuff outside its orbit, e.g. Resurrection and the Moral Order. Thanks for the slap!Kim
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