9.5 Theses on the Emergent Church

In the tradition of someone else, Wheaton professor David Milliner has posted 9.5 Theses against the Emergent Church (that variety of the church growth movement that tries to be postmodernist).   Here are some of them:

1. I’ll say it again: He who marries the spirit of the age will soon become a widower. Do those who married postmodernity realize their spouse is in a nursing home?

1.5 Christians who cater their theology to accommodate deconstruction are comparable to sub-rate CCM bands who copy Green Day five years after they’ve ceased being cool. They’ll sell, but to a subset of evangelicalism who want to be “relevant” – which is the only group they’ll ever be relevant to.

2. Yes Paul said he sees through a glass darkly – but he still saw. Don’t forget to keep reading.

2.5 Paul did not end his speech at the Areopagus by saying “the Unknown God” is a great idea, sorry I bothered you. Nice statue. Can I have a copy? . . . .

NEW! 4.75 POP QUIZ! What is wrong with the following Biblical quotation? “Seek and you shall seek.”

Revised! 5. Protestantism’s only hope is to cling to its birthright, a passionate focus on the written Word of God, the unique, authoritative avenue to the Word of God in Christ. Protestants are an order of the written Word (in very sad condition) within God’s woefully divided church. Our guide in stewarding this threatened charism is not the “spirit of protest” but the Holy Spirit. There’s a difference. . . .

6.5 Speaking of big words, consider this one: “And.” It’s especially helpful when confronted with polarizing rhetoric shortsighted enough to suggest one must choose propositional/factual truth or narrative/aesthetic truth.7. It does not “puncture the hegemony of logic” to deny the central tenets of the Christian faith. The central tenets of the Christian faith do a fine job of that already. It is not humility to deny what God has done by impenetrable obscurity masquerading as “nuance.” It is pride.

7.5 To correct abuses of rationality (which are legion) by neutering epistemology is like correcting poor carpentry by outlawing tools.

NEW! 7.75 The most radical postmodern epistemology appears numbingly Newtonian next to the first few verses of 1 Corinthians 8: You can’t know this kind of knowledge (verse 3), this Knowledge knows you.

8. Heresy is boring, not exciting because it eviscerates mystery. If you’re attracted to heresy because it makes you feel naughty then that’s kinda creepy. If you’re attracted to it because you don’t want to “limit God,” then the religion that serves a God who became a particular first-century Palestinian Jew might not be for you.

via millinerd.com: 9.5 Theses.

HT:David Mills

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

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  • Cincinnatus

    A bit unfair. I think there are things to be fruitfully gleaned from postmodern theology.

  • Cincinnatus

    A bit unfair. I think there are things to be fruitfully gleaned from postmodern theology.

  • Shane A

    We should probably distinguish between thoughtful individuals who recognize the fallacy of modernity’s claim to absolute objectivity–say, Owen Barfield or Martin Heidegger–and pop-protestants who follow the fad of the decade (or year). Both may be called “postmodern.” But point 1.5 helps clarify point 1.

  • Shane A

    We should probably distinguish between thoughtful individuals who recognize the fallacy of modernity’s claim to absolute objectivity–say, Owen Barfield or Martin Heidegger–and pop-protestants who follow the fad of the decade (or year). Both may be called “postmodern.” But point 1.5 helps clarify point 1.

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  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    So Cincinnatus, perhaps you are right, maybe there is something we could fruitfully glean from “postmodern” theology. But saying so doesn’t quite make it so. And there is only so much B.S. I can pick through looking for kernels of corn that have made it through the digestive tract. Maybe you could help by pointing them out to me? I find much more fruitful picking to be found elsewhere, and unless there is a real gem that can be found only there and no where else, I don’t think I’m interested.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    So Cincinnatus, perhaps you are right, maybe there is something we could fruitfully glean from “postmodern” theology. But saying so doesn’t quite make it so. And there is only so much B.S. I can pick through looking for kernels of corn that have made it through the digestive tract. Maybe you could help by pointing them out to me? I find much more fruitful picking to be found elsewhere, and unless there is a real gem that can be found only there and no where else, I don’t think I’m interested.

  • Jonathan

    “Revised! 5. Protestantism’s only hope is to cling to its birthright, a passionate focus on the written Word of God, the unique, authoritative avenue to the Word of God in Christ.”

    Yes, evidenced by the arguments (in miniature, on this blog occasionally) about the validity of the sacraments. What’s the value of biblicism if every Protestant faction can cite a verse to prove their mutually contrary points that Christ is or is not in, for example, the Eucharist? Further, neither side agrees on, for another example, the meaning of the basic Christian rite of baptism. Yet everyone has a verse to prove his point. Protestantism’s only hope, indeed.

  • Jonathan

    “Revised! 5. Protestantism’s only hope is to cling to its birthright, a passionate focus on the written Word of God, the unique, authoritative avenue to the Word of God in Christ.”

    Yes, evidenced by the arguments (in miniature, on this blog occasionally) about the validity of the sacraments. What’s the value of biblicism if every Protestant faction can cite a verse to prove their mutually contrary points that Christ is or is not in, for example, the Eucharist? Further, neither side agrees on, for another example, the meaning of the basic Christian rite of baptism. Yet everyone has a verse to prove his point. Protestantism’s only hope, indeed.

  • Mockingbird

    Like.

  • Mockingbird

    Like.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I enjoyed the 9.5 Theses, especially the style in which they were written, though I couldn’t help but notice that the article is over four years old. (Criminy, what does that mean about how long it’s been since Green Day has been cool?!)

    Jonathan (@4), might as well also blame a cookbook for all the lousy food made by people who read it (or claim to have done so).

    And I, too (@3) would like Cincinnatus (@1) to follow up on his comment.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I enjoyed the 9.5 Theses, especially the style in which they were written, though I couldn’t help but notice that the article is over four years old. (Criminy, what does that mean about how long it’s been since Green Day has been cool?!)

    Jonathan (@4), might as well also blame a cookbook for all the lousy food made by people who read it (or claim to have done so).

    And I, too (@3) would like Cincinnatus (@1) to follow up on his comment.

  • http://millinerd.com Matthew Milliner

    Cincinnatus: For the record, I too think there is much good to be gleaned from postmodern theology. The point of my frustration in that post was its sloppy use by Christians. My theses, written almost five years ago, were not even directly aimed at the emergent church. I certainly hope there are strands of what’s left of the emergent church that would be immune to this critique (though I’m not holding my breath).

    Best,

    Matt

  • http://millinerd.com Matthew Milliner

    Cincinnatus: For the record, I too think there is much good to be gleaned from postmodern theology. The point of my frustration in that post was its sloppy use by Christians. My theses, written almost five years ago, were not even directly aimed at the emergent church. I certainly hope there are strands of what’s left of the emergent church that would be immune to this critique (though I’m not holding my breath).

    Best,

    Matt

  • Jonathan

    @6 tODD, I’d wonder about a cookbook whose sole recipe habitually, over centuries, resulted in thousands of starkly different dishes. Particularly so, if all the cooks producing these different dishes firmly insisted that they were literally following only the recipe.

  • Jonathan

    @6 tODD, I’d wonder about a cookbook whose sole recipe habitually, over centuries, resulted in thousands of starkly different dishes. Particularly so, if all the cooks producing these different dishes firmly insisted that they were literally following only the recipe.

  • kenneth

    Hey, Ithink the 9.5 theses should have been a10! Whatever that can be gleaned from the emerging non-Gsosped of postmodernism it can not be anthing worth having. Objective knowledge is what we protestants have. With out it we are literally blowing in the wind. Hopeless at that! The emergent church is like a man who built his house on sand, And there was a great crash.

  • kenneth

    Hey, Ithink the 9.5 theses should have been a10! Whatever that can be gleaned from the emerging non-Gsosped of postmodernism it can not be anthing worth having. Objective knowledge is what we protestants have. With out it we are literally blowing in the wind. Hopeless at that! The emergent church is like a man who built his house on sand, And there was a great crash.

  • Joe

    Jonathan – the fact that some of the cooks can’t read does not mean the recipe is to be faulted.

  • Joe

    Jonathan – the fact that some of the cooks can’t read does not mean the recipe is to be faulted.

  • Jonathan

    @10 Is a cook who can’t read a recipe (and, presumably, for that reason unable to follow it) really a cook?

  • Jonathan

    @10 Is a cook who can’t read a recipe (and, presumably, for that reason unable to follow it) really a cook?

  • Cincinnatus

    Shane@2, in fact, largely clarified my (admittedly ambiguous) objection. All of us thus far have been employing the term “postmodern” loosely, carelessly, pejoratively (without consideration), and, worst, incorrectly.

    To wit, the Emergent Church, which I presume to be the primary target of these theses (though Matthew Milliner protesteth much), is little better than a bastardized corruption of postmodernism. Brian McLaren and his ilk have cribbed various terms from postmodern thought–authenticity, narratives, hermeneutics, etc.–and patched together a ridiculous popular version of Christianity not unlike other popular Christianities floating about in Christian bookstores for its stunning lack of sophistication. Popular theologies, of course, are always rather ridiculous, and postmodernism in particular has taken on a comical visage when welcomed into the vulgar clamor of popular discourse. In short, I scoff at Brian McClaren and the emerging church. “Generous orthodoxy” is hogwash.

    What isn’t hogwash, however, is postmodernism itself. First of all, I think we confuse ourselves. Postmodernism isn’t a coherent philosophy like “existentialism” or “communism” or “liberalism.” Rather, it is an historical demonym. All of us are postmodern in that we live in the postmodern epoch. We cannot escape our historical circumstances, and we cannot escape the terminology introduced by the various luminaries who have recognized (but not “invented” or “popularized”) the postmodern condition. Indeed, if you’ve ever used the word “worldview,” you are postmodern. Period. All lamentations regarding tempus et mores aside, it would be rather silly and simpleminded to discard the entirely of our historico-philosophical condition. In short, we live and think in an age after modernism, or at least in the ruins of a swiftly collapsing modernism.

    But let’s talk about those “luminaries” who have most clearly articulated our condition. I speak of Derrida, of Heidegger, of Arendt, Levinas, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, and Gadamer (among others). None of these thinkers boasts a “lock” on the truth. Indeed, the entire point of their projects is to deny the possibility of grasping the entirety of the truth, starting with their own works. In some cases, they are disastrously and damnably “wrong.” But what all of them have done is a) to recognize our condition and b) to raise certain crucial questions and critiques in response to the crumbling edifice of modernity–long may it rest in peace.

    I need not delineate their specific contributions here, but Christianity has much to gain (and has gained already) from postmodernism, the dilettantish posturing of McLaren et al. notwithstanding. The suspicion of systematic theologies is useful. The rebirth of negative theology is useful. “Authenticity” is actually a useful concept. The elision of modernity’s subject/object distinction is useful. Epistemological humility is useful. An emphasis upon the personal experience of Christ in the Sacraments, etc., is useful. An emphasis upon “narrative” and “discourse,” particularly the indispensable traditional narratives (cf. Gadamer), is useful.

    I could go on, but we dismiss postmodernist concepts at our peril. My general point is that postmodernism is not merely the facile rejection of truth as such, and we’re doing ourselves no favors when we repeat such talking points. Speaking from personal experience, the texts of the so-called “radical orthodoxy” movement, not to mention the texts of authors I listed above, have been immensely influential in the development of my own faith.

    Obviously, this comment is impressionistic and shallow, and amounts to little more than an expanded but equally blunt assertion of “Nuh uh! Postmodernism is valuable!” For that, I apologize, but to do better would require much more time, space, and energy than I have at the moment.

  • Cincinnatus

    Shane@2, in fact, largely clarified my (admittedly ambiguous) objection. All of us thus far have been employing the term “postmodern” loosely, carelessly, pejoratively (without consideration), and, worst, incorrectly.

    To wit, the Emergent Church, which I presume to be the primary target of these theses (though Matthew Milliner protesteth much), is little better than a bastardized corruption of postmodernism. Brian McLaren and his ilk have cribbed various terms from postmodern thought–authenticity, narratives, hermeneutics, etc.–and patched together a ridiculous popular version of Christianity not unlike other popular Christianities floating about in Christian bookstores for its stunning lack of sophistication. Popular theologies, of course, are always rather ridiculous, and postmodernism in particular has taken on a comical visage when welcomed into the vulgar clamor of popular discourse. In short, I scoff at Brian McClaren and the emerging church. “Generous orthodoxy” is hogwash.

    What isn’t hogwash, however, is postmodernism itself. First of all, I think we confuse ourselves. Postmodernism isn’t a coherent philosophy like “existentialism” or “communism” or “liberalism.” Rather, it is an historical demonym. All of us are postmodern in that we live in the postmodern epoch. We cannot escape our historical circumstances, and we cannot escape the terminology introduced by the various luminaries who have recognized (but not “invented” or “popularized”) the postmodern condition. Indeed, if you’ve ever used the word “worldview,” you are postmodern. Period. All lamentations regarding tempus et mores aside, it would be rather silly and simpleminded to discard the entirely of our historico-philosophical condition. In short, we live and think in an age after modernism, or at least in the ruins of a swiftly collapsing modernism.

    But let’s talk about those “luminaries” who have most clearly articulated our condition. I speak of Derrida, of Heidegger, of Arendt, Levinas, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, and Gadamer (among others). None of these thinkers boasts a “lock” on the truth. Indeed, the entire point of their projects is to deny the possibility of grasping the entirety of the truth, starting with their own works. In some cases, they are disastrously and damnably “wrong.” But what all of them have done is a) to recognize our condition and b) to raise certain crucial questions and critiques in response to the crumbling edifice of modernity–long may it rest in peace.

    I need not delineate their specific contributions here, but Christianity has much to gain (and has gained already) from postmodernism, the dilettantish posturing of McLaren et al. notwithstanding. The suspicion of systematic theologies is useful. The rebirth of negative theology is useful. “Authenticity” is actually a useful concept. The elision of modernity’s subject/object distinction is useful. Epistemological humility is useful. An emphasis upon the personal experience of Christ in the Sacraments, etc., is useful. An emphasis upon “narrative” and “discourse,” particularly the indispensable traditional narratives (cf. Gadamer), is useful.

    I could go on, but we dismiss postmodernist concepts at our peril. My general point is that postmodernism is not merely the facile rejection of truth as such, and we’re doing ourselves no favors when we repeat such talking points. Speaking from personal experience, the texts of the so-called “radical orthodoxy” movement, not to mention the texts of authors I listed above, have been immensely influential in the development of my own faith.

    Obviously, this comment is impressionistic and shallow, and amounts to little more than an expanded but equally blunt assertion of “Nuh uh! Postmodernism is valuable!” For that, I apologize, but to do better would require much more time, space, and energy than I have at the moment.

  • Cincinnatus

    And even if we regard postmodernism as “enemy” rather than, as I do, ambivalent friend, we shouldn’t merely reject it out of hand. Nietzsche, arguably the first postmodern, truly declared that “God is dead,” though he was only repeating Hegel. We often misunderstand Nietzsche’s intention here. Nietzsche hasn’t killed God, we have killed him. This is unprecedented. What shall we say? How does the church navigate an age in which someone has “taken a sponge to wipe away the horizon”? How does the church proffer its message without merely appearing to be another advertises attempting to foist another equally invalid meta-power-narrative upon the people?

    Hence, again, the value of more postmodernist lingo: post-Christian, post-secular, post-human, etc.

  • Cincinnatus

    And even if we regard postmodernism as “enemy” rather than, as I do, ambivalent friend, we shouldn’t merely reject it out of hand. Nietzsche, arguably the first postmodern, truly declared that “God is dead,” though he was only repeating Hegel. We often misunderstand Nietzsche’s intention here. Nietzsche hasn’t killed God, we have killed him. This is unprecedented. What shall we say? How does the church navigate an age in which someone has “taken a sponge to wipe away the horizon”? How does the church proffer its message without merely appearing to be another advertises attempting to foist another equally invalid meta-power-narrative upon the people?

    Hence, again, the value of more postmodernist lingo: post-Christian, post-secular, post-human, etc.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Jonathan,
    I’m presuming from your comments you are a Roman Catholic?
    Have you studied your own church’s history? You might be surprised, but having a pope hasn’t really uniformed the recipe very well. Hell, history? the cacaphony coming from that direction today is hardly a unified voice. So I suggest taking care of that camel before you come over here to strain a gnat.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Jonathan,
    I’m presuming from your comments you are a Roman Catholic?
    Have you studied your own church’s history? You might be surprised, but having a pope hasn’t really uniformed the recipe very well. Hell, history? the cacaphony coming from that direction today is hardly a unified voice. So I suggest taking care of that camel before you come over here to strain a gnat.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror@14: …Huh? No, I’m not a Catholic. And for the life of me, I have no idea what you’re saying either way. Apparently you don’t like the pope? And this relates to postmodernism…how, exactly?

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror@14: …Huh? No, I’m not a Catholic. And for the life of me, I have no idea what you’re saying either way. Apparently you don’t like the pope? And this relates to postmodernism…how, exactly?

  • Cincinnatus

    Oh, I see you were addressing Jonathan. My mistake. Still, though. I get the impression Jonathan’s trying (and failing) to play devil’s advocate.

  • Cincinnatus

    Oh, I see you were addressing Jonathan. My mistake. Still, though. I get the impression Jonathan’s trying (and failing) to play devil’s advocate.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus,
    that is why I wrote Jonnathan at the top of that comment, and not Cincinnatus.
    I’m still waiting for you to pick out the kernels of corn I cant get from a different pile of B.S.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus,
    that is why I wrote Jonnathan at the top of that comment, and not Cincinnatus.
    I’m still waiting for you to pick out the kernels of corn I cant get from a different pile of B.S.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror: I provided the rudiments of a list above. I consider them to be slightly more than kernels of corn.

    But since you assume the posture of “it’s all B.S. anyway,” I doubt there’s much I could say that you would find convincing!

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror: I provided the rudiments of a list above. I consider them to be slightly more than kernels of corn.

    But since you assume the posture of “it’s all B.S. anyway,” I doubt there’s much I could say that you would find convincing!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@12), I asked you (@6) to explain, and you did — though, as expected, I didn’t really understand most of what you said. That’s my problem, however, not yours. I simply haven’t read much on this topic, and you’re not really explaining what you have read. But, again, that’s fine.

    Still, something in your response caught my eye. You appear to attribute to postmodernism “an emphasis upon the personal experience of Christ in the Sacraments”. Now, perhaps all you’re saying is that postmodernism reinforces this pre-existing concept, or returns us to a proper understanding of it that was previously lacking in modernism. Or maybe I’ve completely failed to understand your point because I’m sorely ignorant in this area. Care to help me out? You know our Lutheran ears prick up whenever anyone mentions the Sacraments.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@12), I asked you (@6) to explain, and you did — though, as expected, I didn’t really understand most of what you said. That’s my problem, however, not yours. I simply haven’t read much on this topic, and you’re not really explaining what you have read. But, again, that’s fine.

    Still, something in your response caught my eye. You appear to attribute to postmodernism “an emphasis upon the personal experience of Christ in the Sacraments”. Now, perhaps all you’re saying is that postmodernism reinforces this pre-existing concept, or returns us to a proper understanding of it that was previously lacking in modernism. Or maybe I’ve completely failed to understand your point because I’m sorely ignorant in this area. Care to help me out? You know our Lutheran ears prick up whenever anyone mentions the Sacraments.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus,
    As I see this conversation, several shifts have taken place, I guess that is postmodernism. First the original submission by Vieth had a peace lampooning the Emergent Church, Brian Mclaren and his ilk. Then you said it was unfair and said we had much to learn from “Postmodern Theology” given the original submission I assumed you were labeling Brian Mclaren and the “theologians” of the Emergent church as Postmodern theologians from whom we could learn much. But no, that was not what you meant. And when pressed you referenced in passing many postmodern concepts and Philosophers for whom I have little enough patience as it is. But you have not identified postmodern theologians or any kernels of corn that can be gleaned from their waste.
    My thing is, I don’t doubt you could find a few things worth while in what the emergent church leaders write, I just don’t like to dig through waste material to find dinner. I’d rather go to a corn field and get it fresh.
    As for post modernism? well yes we live in a post modern age, and so we are postmodern, thank you for that observation… I still find the writings of Thomas Nagel, and Karl Popper to be more beneficial than Heidegger. Just saying. I like Philosophy, I read it. But I like logic, and believe most people inevitably use it even if they write philosophies trying to say it is useless. I believe Truth is out there, and though we might not ever have a complete picture, and things might change our “weltanschaung” or Worldview, a term that had plenty of use in modernism, first coined by another philosopher I have little sympathy for, one schliermacher, I do believe you can use the truth you know and the rule of non contradiction to further shape your world view, and it is not all relative in the end.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus,
    As I see this conversation, several shifts have taken place, I guess that is postmodernism. First the original submission by Vieth had a peace lampooning the Emergent Church, Brian Mclaren and his ilk. Then you said it was unfair and said we had much to learn from “Postmodern Theology” given the original submission I assumed you were labeling Brian Mclaren and the “theologians” of the Emergent church as Postmodern theologians from whom we could learn much. But no, that was not what you meant. And when pressed you referenced in passing many postmodern concepts and Philosophers for whom I have little enough patience as it is. But you have not identified postmodern theologians or any kernels of corn that can be gleaned from their waste.
    My thing is, I don’t doubt you could find a few things worth while in what the emergent church leaders write, I just don’t like to dig through waste material to find dinner. I’d rather go to a corn field and get it fresh.
    As for post modernism? well yes we live in a post modern age, and so we are postmodern, thank you for that observation… I still find the writings of Thomas Nagel, and Karl Popper to be more beneficial than Heidegger. Just saying. I like Philosophy, I read it. But I like logic, and believe most people inevitably use it even if they write philosophies trying to say it is useless. I believe Truth is out there, and though we might not ever have a complete picture, and things might change our “weltanschaung” or Worldview, a term that had plenty of use in modernism, first coined by another philosopher I have little sympathy for, one schliermacher, I do believe you can use the truth you know and the rule of non contradiction to further shape your world view, and it is not all relative in the end.

  • Joe

    I second tODD’s request @ 19. I was unaware that an emphasis on the personal experience of Christ in the Sacraments is somehow connected to post modernism. Lutheran teaching has always emphasized that Christ is truly present for you in the Sacraments. So, I am not so sure what you are driving at with that comment.

  • Joe

    I second tODD’s request @ 19. I was unaware that an emphasis on the personal experience of Christ in the Sacraments is somehow connected to post modernism. Lutheran teaching has always emphasized that Christ is truly present for you in the Sacraments. So, I am not so sure what you are driving at with that comment.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    As for this “personal experience of Christ in the Sacraments” I’ll join the chorus here a little, what do you mean by that.
    I will say though, I doubt this has anything to do with an orthodox Lutheran understanding of the sacraments, though I suspect it was meant to be so. To me it sounds just a bit more like Schleiermacher. The sacraments aren’t about “personal experiences” this is why they are offered in a community of believers, the meaning transcends the “personal.” And as for experience, slippy sloppy language. Sometimes there is a feeling that accompanies it, sometimes not. it’s always an “experience” i suppose. But Christ is there, and the experience of him is far more than personal, it is communal. He is there apart from our faith, for blessing and for judgment, and he gives us his body and blood regardless of faith, for blessing or judgment. He wills it to be for forgiveness.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    As for this “personal experience of Christ in the Sacraments” I’ll join the chorus here a little, what do you mean by that.
    I will say though, I doubt this has anything to do with an orthodox Lutheran understanding of the sacraments, though I suspect it was meant to be so. To me it sounds just a bit more like Schleiermacher. The sacraments aren’t about “personal experiences” this is why they are offered in a community of believers, the meaning transcends the “personal.” And as for experience, slippy sloppy language. Sometimes there is a feeling that accompanies it, sometimes not. it’s always an “experience” i suppose. But Christ is there, and the experience of him is far more than personal, it is communal. He is there apart from our faith, for blessing and for judgment, and he gives us his body and blood regardless of faith, for blessing or judgment. He wills it to be for forgiveness.

  • Cincinnatus

    Good question(s), all. Of course, the experience of the Sacrament is nothing new and is not specifically postmodern. On the other hand, postmodernism is often and for good reason associated with a return of “premodern” concepts.

    I’ll try to clarify a bit. Modernism is, of course, associated with objectivism and objective truth. Of course, Reformation Protestantism is quintessentially modern: an emphasis upon the strong subject who is his own priest and his own objective hermeneut of the Scriptures. These are tenets near and dear to Lutheranism, I understand. Anyway, postmodernism calls all this into question. Whereas modernist Christianity could be associated with rigid creeds, systematic theologies, and confessions that claimed to present objective, complete pictures of religious truth, postmodernism can refocus our attention to the inherently internal, personal, experiential, narrative qualities of faith and the religious experience. Of course, we shouldn’t dispense with the creeds, etc., but postmodern Christianity, in my experience/reading, is much more associated with a resurrection of liturgical worship and “ways of being” as opposed to constructing “systems of theology”–the hallmark of modernity. The liturgy, as we note, culminates in the sacrament of the Eucharist, the consummation of all theology, worship, and experience. The objection regarding personal vs. communal experience is, I think, inapposite: postmodernism doesn’t deny the validity or even priority of communal experiences. How much modernist theology emphasizes the real experience of grace and rebirth in the sacraments? Answer: not much, if any. I would add that Bror claims that “Christ is there” regardless of personal belief and experience. That may be so, but is he meaningful? Meaning requires an experiencing recipient, a participatory communion. This too is something postmodern thought can clarify for us.

    Yes, all this language of “experience” and “narrative” is “slippery,” to borrow Bror’s accusation. Yes, it probably coheres better with my Anglicanism than your Lutheranism. But my point is only that reading Gadamer, Heidegger, Derrida, etc., and the theologians who commence from the platform they offer is not simply a matter of sifting through vast pits of mud in search of rare, tiny pearls of insight. For his part, Heidegger is surely the finest and most important philosopher of the twentieth century. Significantly, he draws very much from two of your own: Rudolph Otto and Karl Barth.

    While Veith claimed that the theses were originally penned in response to the “emergent church” specifically, the author of the theses himself denies it in a comment above. More significant is that the emergent church, in Veith’s own words, is that emergent church “tries to be postmodernist.” What I wanted to do was insist that the emergent church both fails to be postmodernist (or succeeds in the wrong way) and that we critics of the emergent church also understand postmodernism badly. James K.A. Smith (kind of a “meh” philosopher and theologian, but whatever) recently authored a book entitled Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? Indeed.

  • Cincinnatus

    Good question(s), all. Of course, the experience of the Sacrament is nothing new and is not specifically postmodern. On the other hand, postmodernism is often and for good reason associated with a return of “premodern” concepts.

    I’ll try to clarify a bit. Modernism is, of course, associated with objectivism and objective truth. Of course, Reformation Protestantism is quintessentially modern: an emphasis upon the strong subject who is his own priest and his own objective hermeneut of the Scriptures. These are tenets near and dear to Lutheranism, I understand. Anyway, postmodernism calls all this into question. Whereas modernist Christianity could be associated with rigid creeds, systematic theologies, and confessions that claimed to present objective, complete pictures of religious truth, postmodernism can refocus our attention to the inherently internal, personal, experiential, narrative qualities of faith and the religious experience. Of course, we shouldn’t dispense with the creeds, etc., but postmodern Christianity, in my experience/reading, is much more associated with a resurrection of liturgical worship and “ways of being” as opposed to constructing “systems of theology”–the hallmark of modernity. The liturgy, as we note, culminates in the sacrament of the Eucharist, the consummation of all theology, worship, and experience. The objection regarding personal vs. communal experience is, I think, inapposite: postmodernism doesn’t deny the validity or even priority of communal experiences. How much modernist theology emphasizes the real experience of grace and rebirth in the sacraments? Answer: not much, if any. I would add that Bror claims that “Christ is there” regardless of personal belief and experience. That may be so, but is he meaningful? Meaning requires an experiencing recipient, a participatory communion. This too is something postmodern thought can clarify for us.

    Yes, all this language of “experience” and “narrative” is “slippery,” to borrow Bror’s accusation. Yes, it probably coheres better with my Anglicanism than your Lutheranism. But my point is only that reading Gadamer, Heidegger, Derrida, etc., and the theologians who commence from the platform they offer is not simply a matter of sifting through vast pits of mud in search of rare, tiny pearls of insight. For his part, Heidegger is surely the finest and most important philosopher of the twentieth century. Significantly, he draws very much from two of your own: Rudolph Otto and Karl Barth.

    While Veith claimed that the theses were originally penned in response to the “emergent church” specifically, the author of the theses himself denies it in a comment above. More significant is that the emergent church, in Veith’s own words, is that emergent church “tries to be postmodernist.” What I wanted to do was insist that the emergent church both fails to be postmodernist (or succeeds in the wrong way) and that we critics of the emergent church also understand postmodernism badly. James K.A. Smith (kind of a “meh” philosopher and theologian, but whatever) recently authored a book entitled Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? Indeed.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus,
    Oh boy….
    In what sense is Karl barth “ours” you mean the man who hid his volumes of “Luther’s Works” from view with a tie die curtain because he found them to be nauseating, is some how “ours” as in a Lutheran?
    I’ll leave Otto alone for now. haven’t read any of his stuff, so if he is influential in Lutheranism, it must be a different strain….
    And Heiddegger the Best Philosopher of the Twentiteht century? Really I think I’ll just disagree, no accounting for taste, but your statement there says more about you than it does Heidegger. I’m just not that great a fan of that line of Philosophy. Does it bother you at all that he was an outspoken supporter of the Third Reich? When one’s Philosophy leads on in that direction I get just a bit suspicious of its usefulness. I’d rather read Bertrand Russel!
    “Christ is there, but is he meaningful?’ would you like to ask your question again? Really? didn’t we have that discussion yesterday on God’s approval rating? you know how presumptuous that sounds, right?
    He is there, and he is doing something whether you like it, or recognize it. And this is the whole problem when it comes to orthodox Lutherans talking to reformed on Communion, even when the reformed are talking of a “real presence” etc. I have my appreciation for anglicanism, but seriously Cincinnatus, when you ask questions like that my appreciation declines as my understanding grows.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus,
    Oh boy….
    In what sense is Karl barth “ours” you mean the man who hid his volumes of “Luther’s Works” from view with a tie die curtain because he found them to be nauseating, is some how “ours” as in a Lutheran?
    I’ll leave Otto alone for now. haven’t read any of his stuff, so if he is influential in Lutheranism, it must be a different strain….
    And Heiddegger the Best Philosopher of the Twentiteht century? Really I think I’ll just disagree, no accounting for taste, but your statement there says more about you than it does Heidegger. I’m just not that great a fan of that line of Philosophy. Does it bother you at all that he was an outspoken supporter of the Third Reich? When one’s Philosophy leads on in that direction I get just a bit suspicious of its usefulness. I’d rather read Bertrand Russel!
    “Christ is there, but is he meaningful?’ would you like to ask your question again? Really? didn’t we have that discussion yesterday on God’s approval rating? you know how presumptuous that sounds, right?
    He is there, and he is doing something whether you like it, or recognize it. And this is the whole problem when it comes to orthodox Lutherans talking to reformed on Communion, even when the reformed are talking of a “real presence” etc. I have my appreciation for anglicanism, but seriously Cincinnatus, when you ask questions like that my appreciation declines as my understanding grows.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror: Meaning is relational and communal. Something is only meaningful if there is someone (not merely something!) present to accept/receive the meaning. This isn’t an Anglican or a Lutheran statement. It’s simply a philosophical assertion that, in my opinion, is incontrovertible. A tree falls in the woods but no one is there to hear it. Sure, objectively (ontically) speaking, the tree emits vibrations through the earth and air as it thuds to the ground. But effectively there is no meaningful (ontological) sound as there is no hearer. See what I’m saying? It’s not really a remarkable statement, but we moderns always balk at it for some reason. Isn’t there a reason that, prior to partaking of communion, we pray that our hearts be properly disposed? It’s the Lutherans here, after all, who often point out that taking communion in a condition of heresy or unrepentance damages the soul. Worse, it’s a meaningless act. Ontic vs. ontological = Heideggerian insight

    As for the rest–the first part–of your comment, way to miss the point spectacularly. You did, however, notice a rather prominent error: Barth was Reformed, not Lutheran. My mistake. But Rudolph Otto was Lutheran whether you like it or not. In his youth, Heidegger was a Lutheran theologian, though he later departed that path. In any case, who cares? I was merely making an historical observation. As for Heidegger’s “outspoken” support for the Nazi regime, this is a huge debate that spans all manner of possible answers to your question. For the purposes of this discussion, I’ll say that, no, in fact, his advocacy doesn’t bother me from a philosophical standpoint. It does from a moral standpoint, but whatever. It is my position that Heidegger’s unfortunate personal political preferences are not inevitable consequences of his philosophical insights. Way to go for the ad hominem, though. And you’re one to talk, appealing to Bertrand Russel, arch-atheist and arch-socialist. (But from an aesthetic standpoint, you’d really rather read Russell? Ick.)

    Also–and I feel petty even continuing this little argument–it is admittedly the case that identifying the “greatest” philosophy of x period or movement is founded in opinion and not fact. Nonetheless, my identification of Heidegger as the greatest philosopher of the twentieth century is not merely me effusing about my favorite author. This is a widely-held opinion based upon his a) extraordinary depth and originality and b) his influence upon later trends in 20th and 21st century philosophy. Also, note that I said “greatest,” not “rightest.”

    Finally, I note that you seem to think this time I am “reformed.” This, too, is not the case.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror: Meaning is relational and communal. Something is only meaningful if there is someone (not merely something!) present to accept/receive the meaning. This isn’t an Anglican or a Lutheran statement. It’s simply a philosophical assertion that, in my opinion, is incontrovertible. A tree falls in the woods but no one is there to hear it. Sure, objectively (ontically) speaking, the tree emits vibrations through the earth and air as it thuds to the ground. But effectively there is no meaningful (ontological) sound as there is no hearer. See what I’m saying? It’s not really a remarkable statement, but we moderns always balk at it for some reason. Isn’t there a reason that, prior to partaking of communion, we pray that our hearts be properly disposed? It’s the Lutherans here, after all, who often point out that taking communion in a condition of heresy or unrepentance damages the soul. Worse, it’s a meaningless act. Ontic vs. ontological = Heideggerian insight

    As for the rest–the first part–of your comment, way to miss the point spectacularly. You did, however, notice a rather prominent error: Barth was Reformed, not Lutheran. My mistake. But Rudolph Otto was Lutheran whether you like it or not. In his youth, Heidegger was a Lutheran theologian, though he later departed that path. In any case, who cares? I was merely making an historical observation. As for Heidegger’s “outspoken” support for the Nazi regime, this is a huge debate that spans all manner of possible answers to your question. For the purposes of this discussion, I’ll say that, no, in fact, his advocacy doesn’t bother me from a philosophical standpoint. It does from a moral standpoint, but whatever. It is my position that Heidegger’s unfortunate personal political preferences are not inevitable consequences of his philosophical insights. Way to go for the ad hominem, though. And you’re one to talk, appealing to Bertrand Russel, arch-atheist and arch-socialist. (But from an aesthetic standpoint, you’d really rather read Russell? Ick.)

    Also–and I feel petty even continuing this little argument–it is admittedly the case that identifying the “greatest” philosophy of x period or movement is founded in opinion and not fact. Nonetheless, my identification of Heidegger as the greatest philosopher of the twentieth century is not merely me effusing about my favorite author. This is a widely-held opinion based upon his a) extraordinary depth and originality and b) his influence upon later trends in 20th and 21st century philosophy. Also, note that I said “greatest,” not “rightest.”

    Finally, I note that you seem to think this time I am “reformed.” This, too, is not the case.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror, allow me to clarify my first paragraph a bit with a thought experiment.

    Imagine that a priest enters a church that is totally empty except for himself. He walks to the front and positions himself behind the communion table. There, he gathers the Elements. He speaks the words of institution. He breaks the bread and mingles the water with the wine. “The gifts of God for the people of God,” he finally proclaims.

    And? Is Christ “there” in the Lutheran sense? I suppose so; to be honest, I don’t actually know. But who cares? Literally no one. The priest has committed a meaningless act. The sacrament does not occur unless there is a present and participatory community. Yes, perhaps Christ is present in the elements in that empty church, but his presence is meaningless unless there is someone there to receive meaning, someone there to receive and partake of the elements. Yes?

    To take an even simpler example, the priest earlier in his solo liturgy announces, “Peace be with you!” To which an ordinary congregation would respond “And with thy spirit” or “And also with you!” But no one is there. What meaningless words this priest has spoken! Indeed, they are words. He spoke them. They vibrated through the air. We can assume that had someone else been present, they would have understood. But no one was there and they were not understood. He may as well have spouted gibberish.

    This is, in fact, a point that Heidegger makes quite clearly. Perhaps I’ve merely been reading him for too long, but I fail to see how this point is controversial.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror, allow me to clarify my first paragraph a bit with a thought experiment.

    Imagine that a priest enters a church that is totally empty except for himself. He walks to the front and positions himself behind the communion table. There, he gathers the Elements. He speaks the words of institution. He breaks the bread and mingles the water with the wine. “The gifts of God for the people of God,” he finally proclaims.

    And? Is Christ “there” in the Lutheran sense? I suppose so; to be honest, I don’t actually know. But who cares? Literally no one. The priest has committed a meaningless act. The sacrament does not occur unless there is a present and participatory community. Yes, perhaps Christ is present in the elements in that empty church, but his presence is meaningless unless there is someone there to receive meaning, someone there to receive and partake of the elements. Yes?

    To take an even simpler example, the priest earlier in his solo liturgy announces, “Peace be with you!” To which an ordinary congregation would respond “And with thy spirit” or “And also with you!” But no one is there. What meaningless words this priest has spoken! Indeed, they are words. He spoke them. They vibrated through the air. We can assume that had someone else been present, they would have understood. But no one was there and they were not understood. He may as well have spouted gibberish.

    This is, in fact, a point that Heidegger makes quite clearly. Perhaps I’ve merely been reading him for too long, but I fail to see how this point is controversial.

  • Joe

    “Worse, it’s a meaningless act.” It is not meaningless. It is impossible for this act to me meaningless. Whether you realize that this act is profound and that it is impacting you in a very substantial way is irrelevant to its actually meaning or efficacy.

    And, the tree makes a sound regardless of who is around. Sound does not only have meaning if you happen to hear it. To assume it does is to assume that there is no other purpose for sound under the sun, than for you to hear it. I am not arrogant enough to hold that belief.

  • Joe

    “Worse, it’s a meaningless act.” It is not meaningless. It is impossible for this act to me meaningless. Whether you realize that this act is profound and that it is impacting you in a very substantial way is irrelevant to its actually meaning or efficacy.

    And, the tree makes a sound regardless of who is around. Sound does not only have meaning if you happen to hear it. To assume it does is to assume that there is no other purpose for sound under the sun, than for you to hear it. I am not arrogant enough to hold that belief.

  • Cincinnatus

    Joe@27: You fundamentally misunderstood my point, not to mention the meaning of the word “meaning.”

  • Cincinnatus

    Joe@27: You fundamentally misunderstood my point, not to mention the meaning of the word “meaning.”

  • Jonathan

    @28, keep digging; no one here has ears to hear you.

  • Jonathan

    @28, keep digging; no one here has ears to hear you.

  • kenneth

    Postmosdernism never did have nor never will have a lock on the scarcity of epistemological foundations. The patristic fathers new much of “negative theology” but say starting with Aquinas he well refuted nonsensical philosophy affirming “positive knowlege” (read objective). Thomas Reid did a fine job also of putting to rest the too far extreme epistemology that leasves us in thin air (some poem about “spread eagle in the midst of nothing ” if I might deconstruct Ferlinggeti’s poem of the 60′s)?

    It is that univocal knowledge claims of Christianity are the foundation for knowledge, the content of faith in Christ. Postmodernism could be thought of as nothing more than equivocal lashings about , again nothing. The anological aspect is also a good check on our very real limitations regaring objective claims that border on modernist epistemology.

    Hey, I am just glad to be on solid earth rather than flailing about with so the called “freeing” assertions of the likes of Foucalt or Derrrida. Very glad of the presence of
    christ in the Lords”s supper. the means of Grace for miserable sinners.

  • kenneth

    Postmosdernism never did have nor never will have a lock on the scarcity of epistemological foundations. The patristic fathers new much of “negative theology” but say starting with Aquinas he well refuted nonsensical philosophy affirming “positive knowlege” (read objective). Thomas Reid did a fine job also of putting to rest the too far extreme epistemology that leasves us in thin air (some poem about “spread eagle in the midst of nothing ” if I might deconstruct Ferlinggeti’s poem of the 60′s)?

    It is that univocal knowledge claims of Christianity are the foundation for knowledge, the content of faith in Christ. Postmodernism could be thought of as nothing more than equivocal lashings about , again nothing. The anological aspect is also a good check on our very real limitations regaring objective claims that border on modernist epistemology.

    Hey, I am just glad to be on solid earth rather than flailing about with so the called “freeing” assertions of the likes of Foucalt or Derrrida. Very glad of the presence of
    christ in the Lords”s supper. the means of Grace for miserable sinners.

  • Stephen

    Cinncinatus knows what he’s talking about.

    Pieper taught that Mormon baptism is not a Christian baptism, even though it is done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit just like any Christian baptism (which all Lutherans recognize from any number of heterodox sects simply because it is done). Why? Because a Mormon baptism is done apart from the teaching of the true church – that is, the Trinity, which is the only dogma that defines Christians as actually Christian, orthodox and heterodox. Without that relationship to the claim of faith in Christ as the one, true God, there is no faith, and none is created in baptism.

    Agree or disagree with Pieper, but the point is that meaning is fundementally relational. This is both biblical and – surprise! – a postmodern insight. Take the Blessed Incarnation as an example. In the same way, as I have bitched about following rules as opposed to doing mercy, whatever rules they are or where they come from (like the written biblical text) is meaningless unless love is done to the neighbor. This is the end product God desires. How do we know? Christ on the cross, given for you. The whole of the law (love) is defined and given meaning through relationship – to God and to others. Otherwise, doing what is commanded is useless, an attempt to please God with sacrificial works, replacing Christ with our works, as the Lutheran Confessions teach in line with the Sermon on the Mount, et. al.

    “Go and learn what this means – I desire mercy no sacrifice.” Maybe Jesus was the first postmodernist. Actually, I think it “officially” started with Kierkegaard. Or maybe Haman. And they were a Lutherans!

    How’s that for some appeals to authority,eh?

  • Stephen

    Cinncinatus knows what he’s talking about.

    Pieper taught that Mormon baptism is not a Christian baptism, even though it is done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit just like any Christian baptism (which all Lutherans recognize from any number of heterodox sects simply because it is done). Why? Because a Mormon baptism is done apart from the teaching of the true church – that is, the Trinity, which is the only dogma that defines Christians as actually Christian, orthodox and heterodox. Without that relationship to the claim of faith in Christ as the one, true God, there is no faith, and none is created in baptism.

    Agree or disagree with Pieper, but the point is that meaning is fundementally relational. This is both biblical and – surprise! – a postmodern insight. Take the Blessed Incarnation as an example. In the same way, as I have bitched about following rules as opposed to doing mercy, whatever rules they are or where they come from (like the written biblical text) is meaningless unless love is done to the neighbor. This is the end product God desires. How do we know? Christ on the cross, given for you. The whole of the law (love) is defined and given meaning through relationship – to God and to others. Otherwise, doing what is commanded is useless, an attempt to please God with sacrificial works, replacing Christ with our works, as the Lutheran Confessions teach in line with the Sermon on the Mount, et. al.

    “Go and learn what this means – I desire mercy no sacrifice.” Maybe Jesus was the first postmodernist. Actually, I think it “officially” started with Kierkegaard. Or maybe Haman. And they were a Lutherans!

    How’s that for some appeals to authority,eh?

  • Shane A

    @Joe,

    I don’t think Cincinnatus’ position on the necessity for human consciousness to lend meaning to matter–or trees falling and not making a sound–is really that radical. C.S. Lewis pointed out that matter cannot have any meaning outside consciousness in Letters to Malcolm. His friend and fellow Inkling Owen Barfield effectively proved as much, if you ask me, in his work Saving the Appearances–and Bror, there is a kernel of corn for your crap heap. C.S. Lewis said of Barfield that “He towers above us.” Indeed, many of Lewis’s own thoughts were borrowed from Barfield but made accessible through being distilled in Lewis.

    But back to trees. When we speak of a tree falling and no one hearing it, we quickly default to talk about a falling tree causing vibrations in the air. So be it; we have admitted there is no such thing as unheard sound. But, then, what basis do we have for unfelt, or unmeasured, vibrations? Furthermore, there is no such thing as unfelt solidty. It’s an easy point to see, but an incredibly difficult point to hold on to simply because it eludes us seconds after we have grasp it; modernity has been conditioning us for generations to forget this and to think of the world in purely objective, and thus scientifically knowable, terms. And this is the subject-object distinction which Cincinnatus mentioned. The subject-object distinction necessary for modernity must always and forever forget that “objective” information is only relevant to a human consciousness. To cloak this in biblical language: the garden was made for man’s dwelling.

  • Shane A

    @Joe,

    I don’t think Cincinnatus’ position on the necessity for human consciousness to lend meaning to matter–or trees falling and not making a sound–is really that radical. C.S. Lewis pointed out that matter cannot have any meaning outside consciousness in Letters to Malcolm. His friend and fellow Inkling Owen Barfield effectively proved as much, if you ask me, in his work Saving the Appearances–and Bror, there is a kernel of corn for your crap heap. C.S. Lewis said of Barfield that “He towers above us.” Indeed, many of Lewis’s own thoughts were borrowed from Barfield but made accessible through being distilled in Lewis.

    But back to trees. When we speak of a tree falling and no one hearing it, we quickly default to talk about a falling tree causing vibrations in the air. So be it; we have admitted there is no such thing as unheard sound. But, then, what basis do we have for unfelt, or unmeasured, vibrations? Furthermore, there is no such thing as unfelt solidty. It’s an easy point to see, but an incredibly difficult point to hold on to simply because it eludes us seconds after we have grasp it; modernity has been conditioning us for generations to forget this and to think of the world in purely objective, and thus scientifically knowable, terms. And this is the subject-object distinction which Cincinnatus mentioned. The subject-object distinction necessary for modernity must always and forever forget that “objective” information is only relevant to a human consciousness. To cloak this in biblical language: the garden was made for man’s dwelling.

  • trotk

    To further cloak this in Biblical language, Christ gave His body for us, not in a vacuum. Thus it is right to understand the event not just in its objective particulars, but also in its subjective experience. And subjective experience does not mean solitary experience.

    Cincinnatus is right that post-modernity has rediscovered much that was premodern. It is strange to me how, in listening to Christians, it seems that many want to dwell in modernity, as if that age was the pinnacle of humanity’s understanding of epistemology and truth. The apostles weren’t modern, nor was Christ. They weren’t postmodern either. They believed in objective reality and subjective responses to it. They wrote their gospels as narratives that oftentimes left facts out. They presented theology with rational justifications and authoritative justifications for their claims.

    We ought to be able to learn from each age and not fall into the trap of believing that one is what Christ is most pleased with.

  • trotk

    To further cloak this in Biblical language, Christ gave His body for us, not in a vacuum. Thus it is right to understand the event not just in its objective particulars, but also in its subjective experience. And subjective experience does not mean solitary experience.

    Cincinnatus is right that post-modernity has rediscovered much that was premodern. It is strange to me how, in listening to Christians, it seems that many want to dwell in modernity, as if that age was the pinnacle of humanity’s understanding of epistemology and truth. The apostles weren’t modern, nor was Christ. They weren’t postmodern either. They believed in objective reality and subjective responses to it. They wrote their gospels as narratives that oftentimes left facts out. They presented theology with rational justifications and authoritative justifications for their claims.

    We ought to be able to learn from each age and not fall into the trap of believing that one is what Christ is most pleased with.

  • helen

    Jonathan @ 11
    @10 Is a cook who can’t read a recipe (and, presumably, for that reason unable to follow it) really a cook?

    Cooks, I assure you, came before recipe books. The best recipes I remember as a kid are lost to me because they were never written down.

  • helen

    Jonathan @ 11
    @10 Is a cook who can’t read a recipe (and, presumably, for that reason unable to follow it) really a cook?

    Cooks, I assure you, came before recipe books. The best recipes I remember as a kid are lost to me because they were never written down.

  • Joe

    Cinncy said, “Joe@27: You fundamentally misunderstood my point, not to mention the meaning of the word “meaning.””

    Nope, my response is just the expression of the meaning I found in your point. :)

  • Joe

    Cinncy said, “Joe@27: You fundamentally misunderstood my point, not to mention the meaning of the word “meaning.””

    Nope, my response is just the expression of the meaning I found in your point. :)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinntus,
    Really, why must you dwell on hypotheticals. I couldn’t care what happens in an empty church.
    In any case I have taken some time to respond here. There are a few things. One, I read Heidegger this morning “on the way back into the ground of Metaphysics” this is his own commentary and synopsis of Being and Time, which he himself chose for the anthology of Twentieth century Philosophy in my library. I also re read the commentary I have of him in “A History of Western Philosophy, V.” by W.T. Jones, I did not break out Coppelston, though I have read both. My opinion has not changed, but when I say I would rather read Bertrand Russel, it by no means implies I like reading Russel, rather it is meant to convey the utter distaste I have for Heidegger. But at least Russel is able to write a coherent sentence, boring and dry as it might be.
    Two, some think that some how I have some sort of great affinity for “modernism” because I offer a criticism of “Post modernism.” We do not have to be trapped in Kierkegaard’s either or here. I have my own criticism of Modernism too. My problem with “post modernism” is that I see it as an overreaction, and often completely nonsensical, as I found Heidegger this morning. someone suggested I read him with beer and reassess. I’ll decline.
    The question here is not “Do subjects receive meaning” but is there objective meaning. I tend to go with the Philosophers that pursue the objective, rather than delve into navel gazing subjectivity.
    And this is what I and others are saying about Holy Communion, it has meaning apart from you. It has objectivity that is outside of you. Meaning is relational, what ever. Is that some sort of great insight?
    What this postmodern navel gazing does, is actually ignore the relational, by concentrating so much on the subjective as to ignore the objective. I’m saying the subjective does not determine what the meaning is that it receives, but Christ, the objective does.
    In any case, I needed not Heidegger or Post modern, “theology” or Philosophy, (which is what you have been talking about after asserting that postmodern theology had much good in it, Philosophy and theology are two different things though sometimes related.) to recover meaning in the sacraments. There is something called Scripture that does a great deal of talking about what it is that I am receiving in the sacraments, and impregnate them with much meaning apart from any help Heidegger might try to offer. I understand that reformed, and Anglicans, which really aren’t all that different from the reformed as they like to posit today, (Read N.T Wright lately? Sure he isn’t Piper, but what you have is degrees or strands of reformed, and the differences aren’t as great as they make out!).

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinntus,
    Really, why must you dwell on hypotheticals. I couldn’t care what happens in an empty church.
    In any case I have taken some time to respond here. There are a few things. One, I read Heidegger this morning “on the way back into the ground of Metaphysics” this is his own commentary and synopsis of Being and Time, which he himself chose for the anthology of Twentieth century Philosophy in my library. I also re read the commentary I have of him in “A History of Western Philosophy, V.” by W.T. Jones, I did not break out Coppelston, though I have read both. My opinion has not changed, but when I say I would rather read Bertrand Russel, it by no means implies I like reading Russel, rather it is meant to convey the utter distaste I have for Heidegger. But at least Russel is able to write a coherent sentence, boring and dry as it might be.
    Two, some think that some how I have some sort of great affinity for “modernism” because I offer a criticism of “Post modernism.” We do not have to be trapped in Kierkegaard’s either or here. I have my own criticism of Modernism too. My problem with “post modernism” is that I see it as an overreaction, and often completely nonsensical, as I found Heidegger this morning. someone suggested I read him with beer and reassess. I’ll decline.
    The question here is not “Do subjects receive meaning” but is there objective meaning. I tend to go with the Philosophers that pursue the objective, rather than delve into navel gazing subjectivity.
    And this is what I and others are saying about Holy Communion, it has meaning apart from you. It has objectivity that is outside of you. Meaning is relational, what ever. Is that some sort of great insight?
    What this postmodern navel gazing does, is actually ignore the relational, by concentrating so much on the subjective as to ignore the objective. I’m saying the subjective does not determine what the meaning is that it receives, but Christ, the objective does.
    In any case, I needed not Heidegger or Post modern, “theology” or Philosophy, (which is what you have been talking about after asserting that postmodern theology had much good in it, Philosophy and theology are two different things though sometimes related.) to recover meaning in the sacraments. There is something called Scripture that does a great deal of talking about what it is that I am receiving in the sacraments, and impregnate them with much meaning apart from any help Heidegger might try to offer. I understand that reformed, and Anglicans, which really aren’t all that different from the reformed as they like to posit today, (Read N.T Wright lately? Sure he isn’t Piper, but what you have is degrees or strands of reformed, and the differences aren’t as great as they make out!).

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Joe at 35, Right!

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Joe at 35, Right!

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Stephen @ 31,
    Pieper would be horrified at such a confusion regarding this conversation, and such a confusion as to what he meant.
    This “meaning is relational” bit isn’t being denied by those who disagree with Cincinnatus. What is being posited is that there is an objective meaning outside the subjective reception, and that one’s experience is not the determining factor of the meaning. Now, Pieper has his problems in a few places, but he does not deny the objectivity inherent in the sacraments or the word of God, and he would not say that one’s reception or experience of it is the determining factor of the meaning of them or the word of God.
    So you can “bitch” about love, all you want, but that is not our discussion here, and it does not pertain. We are all familiar with the idea that people don’t care what you know, until they know you care. That is another conversation.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Stephen @ 31,
    Pieper would be horrified at such a confusion regarding this conversation, and such a confusion as to what he meant.
    This “meaning is relational” bit isn’t being denied by those who disagree with Cincinnatus. What is being posited is that there is an objective meaning outside the subjective reception, and that one’s experience is not the determining factor of the meaning. Now, Pieper has his problems in a few places, but he does not deny the objectivity inherent in the sacraments or the word of God, and he would not say that one’s reception or experience of it is the determining factor of the meaning of them or the word of God.
    So you can “bitch” about love, all you want, but that is not our discussion here, and it does not pertain. We are all familiar with the idea that people don’t care what you know, until they know you care. That is another conversation.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror, kudos for breaking out your Heidegger! Of course, ultimately, a particular person’s taste for a particular philosopher is just that–a taste shaped by personal preferences and idiosyncrasies. But you’ve admitted that you don’t understand Heidegger and thus find him “boring.” While this is perfectly acceptable, and a common reaction upon a first read of Heidegger, it also means you aren’t eligible to critique his work. Similarly, I’ve not read enough Bertrand Russell to critique his work authoritatively. The little I have read I found to be boring “logic-chopping,” and, as it is, I have precious little time to waste on analytic philosophy due to my personal academic interests. But that’s not a substantial critique. That’s just a gut reaction. Though if you’re ever inclined to attempt Heidegger again, you might try “The Question Concerning Technology” or the “Introduction” to What Is Metaphysics–a bit more accessible.

    “Two,” I didn’t accuse you of a predilection for modernity, only a shallow understanding of postmodernity.

    Third, postmodernism is not about subjectivity in response to modernity’s obsession with objectivity. Quite the contrary–or rather, quite different altogether. Postmodernism collapses the subject/object distinction, denies it altogether. Our experience of the world is not, as Descartes claimed, an independent subject observing the objects of the world impartially. Rather, all of us participate in a common world (or worlds) that is pre-rationally understood and in which the distinction between subject and object is blurred, obscured, or even eliminated altogether. I think Christian theology, liturgy, and ecclesiology have much to gain from this insight–which, as kerner aptly points out, is not so much novel as it is a return to premodern notions of the person and his place in the world. In short, postmodernism is not about navel-gazing. Perhaps you’re thinking of adolescent forms of existentialism or the bastardized conceptions of postmodernism that float around Christian magazines and such. See point “two,” above.

    Fourth, I never said that we “need” postmodernism to recover meaning in the sacraments. The real problem here is that we misunderstand the concept of “meaning” altogether. Postmodernism helps us reclaim a proper understanding of this concept. Meaning is not an object that stands on its own. I.e., there is no “meaning” in the universe apart from someone searching for meaning, apart from someone there to receive or discern that meaning. No object is “intrinsically meaningful.” The elements of the communion, for example, just are in the absence of a congregation to participate in the sacrament. They are ontic facts, but they have no ontological meaning. This does not mean that meaning is merely whatever I experience and say it to be. But meaning fundamentally requires human presence and participation. The elements of communion are literally meaningless to a dog, for example, because a dog is not an intelligent, participatory presence. Christ’s death on the cross is merely a blunt and meaningless historical fact unless his saving work is experienced in the individual soul and re-enacted each week in the sacrament. This is the intention behind the age-old inquiry about trees falling in vacant forests: yes, our knowledge of natural laws allows us to assume that vibrations are caused that would tickle the eardrum of a nearby human. But if there is no audience, there is no meaningful sound. Vibrations are a scientific and measurable fact; “sound” is a specifically human category that is mediated by sense-perception. Make sense? Again, I think, due to ingrained modernist prejudices (the prejudice against prejudices, as Gadamer calls it), we tend to react viscerally to this claim. But it’s really neither remarkable nor controversial. Facticity requires no input or experience from anyone–something either is or it is not; meaning, however, is a specifically human category that requires human presence and participation. Does the data in a computer’s hard drive mean anything without an interpreter? Does a book mean anything without an intelligent reader who is fluent in the language in which it is written? In short, no.

    Finally, let’s not get into the Anglican debate. I had this debate with another (non-Anglican) person recently. In brief, yes, many Anglicans share “reformed” theological preferences, but reformed theology is neither essential or intrinsic to historic Anglicanism. The question is irrelevant here anyway.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror, kudos for breaking out your Heidegger! Of course, ultimately, a particular person’s taste for a particular philosopher is just that–a taste shaped by personal preferences and idiosyncrasies. But you’ve admitted that you don’t understand Heidegger and thus find him “boring.” While this is perfectly acceptable, and a common reaction upon a first read of Heidegger, it also means you aren’t eligible to critique his work. Similarly, I’ve not read enough Bertrand Russell to critique his work authoritatively. The little I have read I found to be boring “logic-chopping,” and, as it is, I have precious little time to waste on analytic philosophy due to my personal academic interests. But that’s not a substantial critique. That’s just a gut reaction. Though if you’re ever inclined to attempt Heidegger again, you might try “The Question Concerning Technology” or the “Introduction” to What Is Metaphysics–a bit more accessible.

    “Two,” I didn’t accuse you of a predilection for modernity, only a shallow understanding of postmodernity.

    Third, postmodernism is not about subjectivity in response to modernity’s obsession with objectivity. Quite the contrary–or rather, quite different altogether. Postmodernism collapses the subject/object distinction, denies it altogether. Our experience of the world is not, as Descartes claimed, an independent subject observing the objects of the world impartially. Rather, all of us participate in a common world (or worlds) that is pre-rationally understood and in which the distinction between subject and object is blurred, obscured, or even eliminated altogether. I think Christian theology, liturgy, and ecclesiology have much to gain from this insight–which, as kerner aptly points out, is not so much novel as it is a return to premodern notions of the person and his place in the world. In short, postmodernism is not about navel-gazing. Perhaps you’re thinking of adolescent forms of existentialism or the bastardized conceptions of postmodernism that float around Christian magazines and such. See point “two,” above.

    Fourth, I never said that we “need” postmodernism to recover meaning in the sacraments. The real problem here is that we misunderstand the concept of “meaning” altogether. Postmodernism helps us reclaim a proper understanding of this concept. Meaning is not an object that stands on its own. I.e., there is no “meaning” in the universe apart from someone searching for meaning, apart from someone there to receive or discern that meaning. No object is “intrinsically meaningful.” The elements of the communion, for example, just are in the absence of a congregation to participate in the sacrament. They are ontic facts, but they have no ontological meaning. This does not mean that meaning is merely whatever I experience and say it to be. But meaning fundamentally requires human presence and participation. The elements of communion are literally meaningless to a dog, for example, because a dog is not an intelligent, participatory presence. Christ’s death on the cross is merely a blunt and meaningless historical fact unless his saving work is experienced in the individual soul and re-enacted each week in the sacrament. This is the intention behind the age-old inquiry about trees falling in vacant forests: yes, our knowledge of natural laws allows us to assume that vibrations are caused that would tickle the eardrum of a nearby human. But if there is no audience, there is no meaningful sound. Vibrations are a scientific and measurable fact; “sound” is a specifically human category that is mediated by sense-perception. Make sense? Again, I think, due to ingrained modernist prejudices (the prejudice against prejudices, as Gadamer calls it), we tend to react viscerally to this claim. But it’s really neither remarkable nor controversial. Facticity requires no input or experience from anyone–something either is or it is not; meaning, however, is a specifically human category that requires human presence and participation. Does the data in a computer’s hard drive mean anything without an interpreter? Does a book mean anything without an intelligent reader who is fluent in the language in which it is written? In short, no.

    Finally, let’s not get into the Anglican debate. I had this debate with another (non-Anglican) person recently. In brief, yes, many Anglicans share “reformed” theological preferences, but reformed theology is neither essential or intrinsic to historic Anglicanism. The question is irrelevant here anyway.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus,
    Where did I say I do not understand Heidegger? I read him, I understood what he was writing, but paradoxically there was nothing there to understand. It is meaningless gibberish that collapses upon itself. In the end it says nothing, it solves nothing, it contributes nothing to rational discourse. Perhaps he was trying to say something, he might have done better had he not absorbed so much gibberish from Husserl.
    I’m not asking you to read BR. I find him to be a bore, and not as great a philosopher as some have tried to assert. The statement was meant to treat the distaste I have for Heidegger. You got me to read him once, shame on you….
    Philosophers I find enjoyable are Thomas Nagel, and Popper for the most part. I’ve enjoyed Wittgenstein, Antony Flew, and Quine.
    But you are going to have a hard time convincing me that Heidegger has much to offer for the church to learn from. But yes this is why the discussion of your own theological predilections come in to play. Because you keep asserting that we as a church have much to learn from this post modern bluring between object subject, which is to say, again, no matter how you cut it, reducing everything to the subjective, you don’t get out of that.
    To quote G.E. Moor, “here’s a hand, here’s another one.” perhaps you can grab hold and pull yourself out of this solipsist mess.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus,
    Where did I say I do not understand Heidegger? I read him, I understood what he was writing, but paradoxically there was nothing there to understand. It is meaningless gibberish that collapses upon itself. In the end it says nothing, it solves nothing, it contributes nothing to rational discourse. Perhaps he was trying to say something, he might have done better had he not absorbed so much gibberish from Husserl.
    I’m not asking you to read BR. I find him to be a bore, and not as great a philosopher as some have tried to assert. The statement was meant to treat the distaste I have for Heidegger. You got me to read him once, shame on you….
    Philosophers I find enjoyable are Thomas Nagel, and Popper for the most part. I’ve enjoyed Wittgenstein, Antony Flew, and Quine.
    But you are going to have a hard time convincing me that Heidegger has much to offer for the church to learn from. But yes this is why the discussion of your own theological predilections come in to play. Because you keep asserting that we as a church have much to learn from this post modern bluring between object subject, which is to say, again, no matter how you cut it, reducing everything to the subjective, you don’t get out of that.
    To quote G.E. Moor, “here’s a hand, here’s another one.” perhaps you can grab hold and pull yourself out of this solipsist mess.

  • Stephen

    Bror,

    Jesus said “Apart from me you can do nothing.” What I am talking about relates to this. I think it is essentially what Pieper means. Apart from the Body of Christ, those who confess the Creed through time, regardless of heterodoxy. Mormons, however, are not actually baptizing people even though it all looks/behaves the same way. They have willingly abandoned that relationship to the Body of Christ which is defined by the Trinity – God himself as he is revealed in Jesus Christ. Consequently, they can do nothing. They cannot baptize. A relationship of meaning is implied here it seems to me.

    I agree with you whne you say “and that one’s experience is not the determining factor of the meaning.” That’s what evangelicals seem to believe, and Pieper begins his dogamtics by stating that all false religion and heterodoxy stems from a dependence upon something within the human to make it true. Some label that “objective truth.” But that is not what I said or was promoting by saying that meaning is relational. I think the word “objective” is not helpful so I avoid. The Word is alive not static. Perhaps that kind of language sounds Emergent Church, but the idea or concept does not end or become completely irrelevant because some do lazy theology. I think Cinncinatus’s explanation of the “collapsed distinction” between subjectivity and objectivity is helpful.

    To use Cinncinatus’s example of the solitary priest/pastor at the altar, imagine one person in the sanctuary other than the pastor hearing what is being proclaimed. Communion is about commonality, a shared reality. This one, lone parishoner may, or may not, recieve what is given in, with, and under (the Word which is Christ) that is spoken as a particular language of words, and yet their presence there does matter, or else we would not fuss over closed communion. Why else do we ask for agreement? It is not simply about the elements themselves or even the language used. Those are all Law things we do. Rather, it is the fact that something is truly being offered which may or may not be received (through faith) in a particular context (the Sacrament). The duty of the pastor, as you know, is to shepherd that relationship to the Sacrament (which is Christ) for the sake of love. The relationship(s) mean something. In fact, we say they are essential.

    I don’t pretend to tell you your job which I’m sure you do very well. Please don’t hear that. But I agree with Cinncinatus that many here are immediately dismissive of the postmodern observation and are too quick to judge it as “relativism” rather than see that we are all participants in it. It is a description of our age which is helpful, I think, and unfairly maligned, perhaps because it seems like the outcomes of contemporary thinking seem to be so screwed up. But Modernism gave us the reified, technological State, and this is what thinkers like Nietzsche attacked. All this batting around of the current politcal malaise that we cannot agree upon is evidence of our postmodern epoch, as is the democratization of all knowledge. In this last sense, postmodernism is also a challenge to authority. How many “experts” show up here?

    Perhaps a simpler example might be this: saying “I love you” to someone can be a meaningful statement even if the meaning received is not what was intended. The person receiving that word may see it as manipulation or some other thing. But that, in itself, does not deny either the intent of what is said or the fact that saying such a thing “implies” another person’s presence and/or potential reception of that message. It is meaningful because it was said by someone to a someone. The same is true for the word of the Gospel. It is always “for you” even if that “for you” is rejected in the heart. I think as a practice, postmodern thinking and its recognition of things like context and shared meanings can help bring this kind of thing out.

  • Stephen

    Bror,

    Jesus said “Apart from me you can do nothing.” What I am talking about relates to this. I think it is essentially what Pieper means. Apart from the Body of Christ, those who confess the Creed through time, regardless of heterodoxy. Mormons, however, are not actually baptizing people even though it all looks/behaves the same way. They have willingly abandoned that relationship to the Body of Christ which is defined by the Trinity – God himself as he is revealed in Jesus Christ. Consequently, they can do nothing. They cannot baptize. A relationship of meaning is implied here it seems to me.

    I agree with you whne you say “and that one’s experience is not the determining factor of the meaning.” That’s what evangelicals seem to believe, and Pieper begins his dogamtics by stating that all false religion and heterodoxy stems from a dependence upon something within the human to make it true. Some label that “objective truth.” But that is not what I said or was promoting by saying that meaning is relational. I think the word “objective” is not helpful so I avoid. The Word is alive not static. Perhaps that kind of language sounds Emergent Church, but the idea or concept does not end or become completely irrelevant because some do lazy theology. I think Cinncinatus’s explanation of the “collapsed distinction” between subjectivity and objectivity is helpful.

    To use Cinncinatus’s example of the solitary priest/pastor at the altar, imagine one person in the sanctuary other than the pastor hearing what is being proclaimed. Communion is about commonality, a shared reality. This one, lone parishoner may, or may not, recieve what is given in, with, and under (the Word which is Christ) that is spoken as a particular language of words, and yet their presence there does matter, or else we would not fuss over closed communion. Why else do we ask for agreement? It is not simply about the elements themselves or even the language used. Those are all Law things we do. Rather, it is the fact that something is truly being offered which may or may not be received (through faith) in a particular context (the Sacrament). The duty of the pastor, as you know, is to shepherd that relationship to the Sacrament (which is Christ) for the sake of love. The relationship(s) mean something. In fact, we say they are essential.

    I don’t pretend to tell you your job which I’m sure you do very well. Please don’t hear that. But I agree with Cinncinatus that many here are immediately dismissive of the postmodern observation and are too quick to judge it as “relativism” rather than see that we are all participants in it. It is a description of our age which is helpful, I think, and unfairly maligned, perhaps because it seems like the outcomes of contemporary thinking seem to be so screwed up. But Modernism gave us the reified, technological State, and this is what thinkers like Nietzsche attacked. All this batting around of the current politcal malaise that we cannot agree upon is evidence of our postmodern epoch, as is the democratization of all knowledge. In this last sense, postmodernism is also a challenge to authority. How many “experts” show up here?

    Perhaps a simpler example might be this: saying “I love you” to someone can be a meaningful statement even if the meaning received is not what was intended. The person receiving that word may see it as manipulation or some other thing. But that, in itself, does not deny either the intent of what is said or the fact that saying such a thing “implies” another person’s presence and/or potential reception of that message. It is meaningful because it was said by someone to a someone. The same is true for the word of the Gospel. It is always “for you” even if that “for you” is rejected in the heart. I think as a practice, postmodern thinking and its recognition of things like context and shared meanings can help bring this kind of thing out.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror,

    Wittgenstein is certainly a worthy read. But Quine? Ick. He and the rest of analytic philosophy are so soul-deadening.

    Anyway, the fact that you say this:

    “…there was nothing there to understand. It is meaningless gibberish that collapses upon itself. In the end it says nothing, it solves nothing, it contributes nothing to rational discourse.”

    leads me to suspect strongly that you did not, in fact, understand much of what you read. That’s not an insult, just an observation. If all you get out of reading Heidegger is that he says “nothing” and contributes “nothing” to rational discourse, then you’ve misread him. Of course, he was skeptical of rationalism, but that doesn’t mean that what he wrote was gibberish. He also has quite a lot to say about Nothing (i.e., non-being), but that doesn’t mean he has nothing to say.

    You know how else I know you didn’t understand Heidegger? Because you say this:

    “Perhaps he was trying to say something, he might have done better had he not absorbed so much gibberish from Husserl.

    Yeah, Heidegger’s project, particularly in Being and Time, is an explicit critique of Husserl’s project. In fact, it’s a complete subversion of Husserl’s project. On the other hand, Husserl is also a very difficult read.

    Look, I’m not asking that you like Heidegger or any other postmodern philosopher. I’m only asking that you understand him/them before you go critiquing him/them and proclaiming ex cathedra that they have nothing to offer to philosophy or the Church.

    Also, I’d like to repeat yet again that postmodernism does not reduce “everything to the subjective.” A major tenet of Heidegger’s philosophy, inherited by his students, is that each individual finds himself “thrown” and “fallen” into a world not of his or her own making. We cannot dominate this world, and we cannot approach it from an Archimedean point of detached objectivity. Rather, we must come to terms with this world. This is quite contrary to the radical subjectivism you seem to imagine, in which the individual would presumably be the supreme arbiter of his own experiences and of the constitution of reality. Objectivity is out because I cannot sever myself from the world to contemplate things “objectively,” i.e., impartially; subjectivity is out because the world into which I am “thrown” inescapably shapes my prejudices, thought processes, etc.–i.e., the world is given to me as it is.

    To apply this back to the Church, perhaps–and there are a number of fantastic ways this could be done; I’ll only choose one minor example–”meaning,” as I was describing earlier, requires both a meaning-giver and a meaning-receiver. Meaning is, as I said, relational. This is not remotely the same thing as claiming that meaning is purely subjective, individuated, and personal. Man, as Eric Voegelin claims, is the symbol-maker, language being one of the most prominent examples of symbol. Any symbol requires both a maker/creator and a participatory audience who recognize the symbol and are able to participate in its meaning. Together, maker and audience comprise a community of meaning. Meaning doesn’t happen unless both parties are present.

    This is where the Church has something to offer postmodernism and vice versa: we possess this remarkable thing called the tradition of orthodoxy that shapes and informs our “world” and our community of meaning. Gadamer in Truth and Method claims essentially the same thing. Read him. We cannot escape our tradition fully: objectivity, the Enlightenment/modernist prejudice against prejudices is chimerical, and an attempt to think outside the tradition totally is both impossible and dangerous, for it leads precisely to the utterly subjective “navel gazing” you quite rightly critique.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror,

    Wittgenstein is certainly a worthy read. But Quine? Ick. He and the rest of analytic philosophy are so soul-deadening.

    Anyway, the fact that you say this:

    “…there was nothing there to understand. It is meaningless gibberish that collapses upon itself. In the end it says nothing, it solves nothing, it contributes nothing to rational discourse.”

    leads me to suspect strongly that you did not, in fact, understand much of what you read. That’s not an insult, just an observation. If all you get out of reading Heidegger is that he says “nothing” and contributes “nothing” to rational discourse, then you’ve misread him. Of course, he was skeptical of rationalism, but that doesn’t mean that what he wrote was gibberish. He also has quite a lot to say about Nothing (i.e., non-being), but that doesn’t mean he has nothing to say.

    You know how else I know you didn’t understand Heidegger? Because you say this:

    “Perhaps he was trying to say something, he might have done better had he not absorbed so much gibberish from Husserl.

    Yeah, Heidegger’s project, particularly in Being and Time, is an explicit critique of Husserl’s project. In fact, it’s a complete subversion of Husserl’s project. On the other hand, Husserl is also a very difficult read.

    Look, I’m not asking that you like Heidegger or any other postmodern philosopher. I’m only asking that you understand him/them before you go critiquing him/them and proclaiming ex cathedra that they have nothing to offer to philosophy or the Church.

    Also, I’d like to repeat yet again that postmodernism does not reduce “everything to the subjective.” A major tenet of Heidegger’s philosophy, inherited by his students, is that each individual finds himself “thrown” and “fallen” into a world not of his or her own making. We cannot dominate this world, and we cannot approach it from an Archimedean point of detached objectivity. Rather, we must come to terms with this world. This is quite contrary to the radical subjectivism you seem to imagine, in which the individual would presumably be the supreme arbiter of his own experiences and of the constitution of reality. Objectivity is out because I cannot sever myself from the world to contemplate things “objectively,” i.e., impartially; subjectivity is out because the world into which I am “thrown” inescapably shapes my prejudices, thought processes, etc.–i.e., the world is given to me as it is.

    To apply this back to the Church, perhaps–and there are a number of fantastic ways this could be done; I’ll only choose one minor example–”meaning,” as I was describing earlier, requires both a meaning-giver and a meaning-receiver. Meaning is, as I said, relational. This is not remotely the same thing as claiming that meaning is purely subjective, individuated, and personal. Man, as Eric Voegelin claims, is the symbol-maker, language being one of the most prominent examples of symbol. Any symbol requires both a maker/creator and a participatory audience who recognize the symbol and are able to participate in its meaning. Together, maker and audience comprise a community of meaning. Meaning doesn’t happen unless both parties are present.

    This is where the Church has something to offer postmodernism and vice versa: we possess this remarkable thing called the tradition of orthodoxy that shapes and informs our “world” and our community of meaning. Gadamer in Truth and Method claims essentially the same thing. Read him. We cannot escape our tradition fully: objectivity, the Enlightenment/modernist prejudice against prejudices is chimerical, and an attempt to think outside the tradition totally is both impossible and dangerous, for it leads precisely to the utterly subjective “navel gazing” you quite rightly critique.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    “Perhaps he was trying to say something, he might have done better had he not absorbed so much gibberish from Husserl.

    Yeah, Heidegger’s project, particularly in Being and Time, is an explicit critique of Husserl’s project. In fact, it’s a complete subversion of Husserl’s project. On the other hand, Husserl is also a very difficult read. ”
    See here is the thing, as often happens in history, such as with say Arminius and Calvin, and I posit Heidegger and Husserl. The student criticizes the teacher, and everyone thinks there is some sort of great gulf between the two, which to those involved actually to look like completely different theologies or philosophies. Yet from a perspective they themselves are not aware of, the differences are not that great, and an outsider looking in sees their internal feud to be quite ridiculous. In fact Arminius accepts as a given many of the ideas of Calvin that should have been rejected out right. They have the same starting point, and largely end up in the same goal at the end of the trail. Same with Husserl and Heidegger in my opinion. He critiques Husserl for sure, but follows him a lot more than he realizes, especially in his penchant for writing complicated nonsense, and eloquent gibberish that invites one to fill with meaning of his own.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    “Perhaps he was trying to say something, he might have done better had he not absorbed so much gibberish from Husserl.

    Yeah, Heidegger’s project, particularly in Being and Time, is an explicit critique of Husserl’s project. In fact, it’s a complete subversion of Husserl’s project. On the other hand, Husserl is also a very difficult read. ”
    See here is the thing, as often happens in history, such as with say Arminius and Calvin, and I posit Heidegger and Husserl. The student criticizes the teacher, and everyone thinks there is some sort of great gulf between the two, which to those involved actually to look like completely different theologies or philosophies. Yet from a perspective they themselves are not aware of, the differences are not that great, and an outsider looking in sees their internal feud to be quite ridiculous. In fact Arminius accepts as a given many of the ideas of Calvin that should have been rejected out right. They have the same starting point, and largely end up in the same goal at the end of the trail. Same with Husserl and Heidegger in my opinion. He critiques Husserl for sure, but follows him a lot more than he realizes, especially in his penchant for writing complicated nonsense, and eloquent gibberish that invites one to fill with meaning of his own.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror@43: Yeah, no. It’s not gibberish. If it seems like gibberish to you, then perhaps you should pick up a well-respected commentary on Heidegger, of which there are several (and surprisingly, all of them are able to extract a coherent teaching from Heidegger!), before you simply discard his work as nonsense. I and hundreds of other philosophers will assert the contrary. You know who else is difficult to read? Aristotle. Kant. Hegel. All of them are crucial members of the Western philosophical tradition.

    And no, you haven’t demonstrated that Heidegger is simply cribbing from Husserl. Saying so doesn’t make it so. For starters, Husserl believes that perception is rooted in intentional states of consciousness; Heidegger launches his project from precisely the opposite claim. And that’s over-simplifying.

    Anyway, if all you want to do is insult prominent philosophers on the grounds that you can’t understand them or that they’re difficult to read, then I have better things to do! Intellectual curiosity is not on display here. Or, since you claim to understand his work so well, perhaps you could explain him to me–I struggle with Heidegger’s writings as well, but repeated confrontations with his work have revealed to me that, without question, he has important things to say. So I keep reading.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror@43: Yeah, no. It’s not gibberish. If it seems like gibberish to you, then perhaps you should pick up a well-respected commentary on Heidegger, of which there are several (and surprisingly, all of them are able to extract a coherent teaching from Heidegger!), before you simply discard his work as nonsense. I and hundreds of other philosophers will assert the contrary. You know who else is difficult to read? Aristotle. Kant. Hegel. All of them are crucial members of the Western philosophical tradition.

    And no, you haven’t demonstrated that Heidegger is simply cribbing from Husserl. Saying so doesn’t make it so. For starters, Husserl believes that perception is rooted in intentional states of consciousness; Heidegger launches his project from precisely the opposite claim. And that’s over-simplifying.

    Anyway, if all you want to do is insult prominent philosophers on the grounds that you can’t understand them or that they’re difficult to read, then I have better things to do! Intellectual curiosity is not on display here. Or, since you claim to understand his work so well, perhaps you could explain him to me–I struggle with Heidegger’s writings as well, but repeated confrontations with his work have revealed to me that, without question, he has important things to say. So I keep reading.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    Yes cicninnatus, here I am definately the one who has shown a lack of intelectual curiosity. Let’s see, this morning after finishing proverbs, I indulged you and read 1, a commentary on heidegger and then heidegger himself, to just check whether my previous thoughts considering him, developed from reading Coppleston and wmtm jones, as well as taking numerous philosophy curses, and discussions concerning him with a few different friends who have advanced degrees in philosophy, were accurate or fair. I maintain they were. I found nothing redemptive in what I read. Other philosphers may agree with you, others disagree.I agree with those who disagree.
    For the record, I’ve read aristotle, I’ve read kant, I’ve read a great deal of philosphers and some that you mention take on heady subjectsm yet I never found aristotle to be a “hard” read, nor plato. Kant was a bit dry. Descart interesting. But I understood them because though they wrote on tough subjests they actually had something to say, and wrote in such a manner as to explain and teach and invite and provoke thought. Heidegger writes to obfuscate and make you think he is sayimg something profound, but he never gets around to it.
    On the other hand, you keep claiming his profoundness and inviting others to join your solipsism that admiTtedly fits well with the ethos of Anglicanism. And you dismiss then the anylytic tradition, effectively doing what you accuse me of. Brilliant!

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    Yes cicninnatus, here I am definately the one who has shown a lack of intelectual curiosity. Let’s see, this morning after finishing proverbs, I indulged you and read 1, a commentary on heidegger and then heidegger himself, to just check whether my previous thoughts considering him, developed from reading Coppleston and wmtm jones, as well as taking numerous philosophy curses, and discussions concerning him with a few different friends who have advanced degrees in philosophy, were accurate or fair. I maintain they were. I found nothing redemptive in what I read. Other philosphers may agree with you, others disagree.I agree with those who disagree.
    For the record, I’ve read aristotle, I’ve read kant, I’ve read a great deal of philosphers and some that you mention take on heady subjectsm yet I never found aristotle to be a “hard” read, nor plato. Kant was a bit dry. Descart interesting. But I understood them because though they wrote on tough subjests they actually had something to say, and wrote in such a manner as to explain and teach and invite and provoke thought. Heidegger writes to obfuscate and make you think he is sayimg something profound, but he never gets around to it.
    On the other hand, you keep claiming his profoundness and inviting others to join your solipsism that admiTtedly fits well with the ethos of Anglicanism. And you dismiss then the anylytic tradition, effectively doing what you accuse me of. Brilliant!

  • Cincinnatus

    As I said, Bror, at this point, you’re just taking a piss here, which is fine, I guess, but it doesn’t constitute constructive dialogue. Moreover, the reason I dismiss many in the analytic tradition is not because they’re boring, hard to read, meaningless, or unimportant–all insults you’ve applied to Heidegger. Rather, I have objections to the analytic method and project which are irrelevant to the discussion at hand, since you’re not attempting to demonstrate that the analytic philosophers are unfortunately misunderstood, should apply to the church, etc. So let’s leave that there.

    Bror, it’s obvious that you’re a highly intelligent guy, that you’re well-read, and that you apply what you’ve read diligently.

    But you’re not being charitable. You claim that Heidegger has nothing to offer. This is ridiculous. The problem is that you misunderstood him. Own it. That’s fine. It’s not a sin or even a reflection upon your intelligence to misunderstand or dislike a given philosopher. A good general rule for any reader is to read those books that enlighten and discard the rest. Discard Heidegger if you don’t find him stimulating. But don’t abuse him simply because you couldn’t/didn’t bother to understand him, ok? I’ll do the same for your pet philosophers. Better yet, maybe you could just ask me what Heidegger means, for instance, since I happen to make a modest claim to know and understand the texts you’ve read, if only darkly. But no, you’d rather write the whole thing off as obscurantism.

    My point here was to expose some of the ways that Heidegger and others in the postmodern tradition can help the church navigate a troubled age. I persist in this opinion, and you’ve literally done or attempted nothing to change my mind. Instead, you’ve alternately accused me of solipsism, selfishness, navel-gazing, and other faults which you erroneously ascribe to postmodernism as a whole. When you’re not lobbing baseless insults my way, you’re smearing prominent philosophers based upon ridiculous caricatures and misunderstandings of their positions. If that’s how you’d like to conduct a meaningful dialogue, then I have to bow out now.

    Keep reading!

  • Cincinnatus

    As I said, Bror, at this point, you’re just taking a piss here, which is fine, I guess, but it doesn’t constitute constructive dialogue. Moreover, the reason I dismiss many in the analytic tradition is not because they’re boring, hard to read, meaningless, or unimportant–all insults you’ve applied to Heidegger. Rather, I have objections to the analytic method and project which are irrelevant to the discussion at hand, since you’re not attempting to demonstrate that the analytic philosophers are unfortunately misunderstood, should apply to the church, etc. So let’s leave that there.

    Bror, it’s obvious that you’re a highly intelligent guy, that you’re well-read, and that you apply what you’ve read diligently.

    But you’re not being charitable. You claim that Heidegger has nothing to offer. This is ridiculous. The problem is that you misunderstood him. Own it. That’s fine. It’s not a sin or even a reflection upon your intelligence to misunderstand or dislike a given philosopher. A good general rule for any reader is to read those books that enlighten and discard the rest. Discard Heidegger if you don’t find him stimulating. But don’t abuse him simply because you couldn’t/didn’t bother to understand him, ok? I’ll do the same for your pet philosophers. Better yet, maybe you could just ask me what Heidegger means, for instance, since I happen to make a modest claim to know and understand the texts you’ve read, if only darkly. But no, you’d rather write the whole thing off as obscurantism.

    My point here was to expose some of the ways that Heidegger and others in the postmodern tradition can help the church navigate a troubled age. I persist in this opinion, and you’ve literally done or attempted nothing to change my mind. Instead, you’ve alternately accused me of solipsism, selfishness, navel-gazing, and other faults which you erroneously ascribe to postmodernism as a whole. When you’re not lobbing baseless insults my way, you’re smearing prominent philosophers based upon ridiculous caricatures and misunderstandings of their positions. If that’s how you’d like to conduct a meaningful dialogue, then I have to bow out now.

    Keep reading!

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    Cincinnatus, alright, see here you are beginning to prove my point. All this time you’ve been bemoaning that others don’t give heidegger a fairshake, that he is misunderstood, and that if he was properly understood the church could learn much to help them navigate a troubled age. But now you yourself hesitate to say you understand him yourself! You understand darkly.
    You reject the anylytical tradition because as you say you reject their project. That project happened to be to lleave the prison of german idealism ,and rescue philosophy from it, to salvage western thought from complete solipsism, the very thing Heidegger and co build upon. So perhaps there is a bit of relevancy here? One can perhaps debate how well they have done, and whether or not some are better than others. See but thaat’s just it. I reject heidegger for the very reasons you reject the analytical tradition, I reject the project and what they are trying to do. That is our impasse.
    However, I read him. I read him on his own terms, a work he identified as important to understanding him. He failed to explain himself in anyway acceptable to a man trained in the analytic tradition. That is trained to ask things like what is the subject, what is the predicte, is the a tautaulogy, or is there anything synthetic in this statement? I read sentences comprised of “existence is a mode of being that is open to the openness of being” and from that “rocks don’t exist” I get it rocks aren’t conscious they aren’t open to being, what ever that means. And you know, if you take up 12 pages of that giberish and never get around to explaining what it means to be open to being” as opposed to merely conscious or existing, then sorry your problems are not my problems. Its flowery giberish that in the end says nothing, and does nothing to enlighten.
    If you really have something to say, then say it. I think if a philosopher wants me to take him seriously he has a duty to write in a manner that is clear, a manner that isn’t purposely obfuscating to the point where one who thinks he understands you confesses that he had to read you numerous times before he got anything of what you had to say, and is still unsure that he understands you. I’ve got better things to do than read your undistilled speculations and incoherent thoughts. In other words a philosppher can take his audience seriously if they want to be taken seriously.
    As for the church and troubled times. The times would not be so troubled if it were not for this sort of nonsense inviting narcisism, obfuscating reality. The church has its rock, and will navigate the times just fine and be around long after people have ceased trying to understand Heidegger, having realized there was nothing to understand.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    Cincinnatus, alright, see here you are beginning to prove my point. All this time you’ve been bemoaning that others don’t give heidegger a fairshake, that he is misunderstood, and that if he was properly understood the church could learn much to help them navigate a troubled age. But now you yourself hesitate to say you understand him yourself! You understand darkly.
    You reject the anylytical tradition because as you say you reject their project. That project happened to be to lleave the prison of german idealism ,and rescue philosophy from it, to salvage western thought from complete solipsism, the very thing Heidegger and co build upon. So perhaps there is a bit of relevancy here? One can perhaps debate how well they have done, and whether or not some are better than others. See but thaat’s just it. I reject heidegger for the very reasons you reject the analytical tradition, I reject the project and what they are trying to do. That is our impasse.
    However, I read him. I read him on his own terms, a work he identified as important to understanding him. He failed to explain himself in anyway acceptable to a man trained in the analytic tradition. That is trained to ask things like what is the subject, what is the predicte, is the a tautaulogy, or is there anything synthetic in this statement? I read sentences comprised of “existence is a mode of being that is open to the openness of being” and from that “rocks don’t exist” I get it rocks aren’t conscious they aren’t open to being, what ever that means. And you know, if you take up 12 pages of that giberish and never get around to explaining what it means to be open to being” as opposed to merely conscious or existing, then sorry your problems are not my problems. Its flowery giberish that in the end says nothing, and does nothing to enlighten.
    If you really have something to say, then say it. I think if a philosopher wants me to take him seriously he has a duty to write in a manner that is clear, a manner that isn’t purposely obfuscating to the point where one who thinks he understands you confesses that he had to read you numerous times before he got anything of what you had to say, and is still unsure that he understands you. I’ve got better things to do than read your undistilled speculations and incoherent thoughts. In other words a philosppher can take his audience seriously if they want to be taken seriously.
    As for the church and troubled times. The times would not be so troubled if it were not for this sort of nonsense inviting narcisism, obfuscating reality. The church has its rock, and will navigate the times just fine and be around long after people have ceased trying to understand Heidegger, having realized there was nothing to understand.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror,

    My, where to begin? Well, first I must pause for a sigh of exasperation. After that, I have to say that this will be my last comment in this thread unless someone else desires to pop in and say something constructive. I’d just like to correct a few of your philosophical misunderstandings.

    First, I can see why Heidegger would be quite frustrating for someone trained in the analytic tradition. I wont’ debate here the inferiorities and superiorities of analytic vs. continental philosophy, but I will note that, while continental philosophy (my own training) is deeply logical, it is not concerned with rigidly structured propositions, etc.–the stuff common to analytic logic-chopping (as I call it pejoratively). This makes continental philosophy difficult for analytical types to understand immediately, but I repeat that this is not leave to dismiss the entire continental project. Likewise, I find analytical philosophy to be fairly rugged going, as my training in advanced logic is limited. This does not give me leave, however, to sink the whole ship.

    Moving on…

    Heidegger was not a member of the idealist tradition. In fact, following Nietzsche, he destroyed it. He is also not a solipsist! If anything, Heidegger is a communalist, who insists upon meaningful participation in a community, a world of fellow human beings engaging in common activities. How many times must I insist upon this point?!

    Probably not as many times as I’ll have to insist on this point: HEIDEGGER ACTUALLY HAS SOMETHING TO SAY. Yes, his language is difficult. This is because a) it’s in German and b) he was intentionally attempting to construct new words or reclaim Greek terms for the new concepts he was using. Oh look! There are, in fact, concepts, categories, teachings, arguments, and propositions expressed in Heidegger’s work! The fact that I appended a disclaimer–that I understanding only “darkly”–to my claim to understand Heidegger was merely an appropriate statement of humility. Heidegger’s collected works span 94 volumes. I do not and cannot claim to understand his philosophy exhaustively and completely. No one can make such a claim. Then again, no one, least of all myself, can make such a claim about any philosopher. Heidegger is a difficult thinker, as you well know, and I’m only beginning to understand him. I persist in this quest only because I believe it to be worthwhile.

    Anyway, I could go on, but this is really a fruitless debate. You don’t like Heidegger. Fine. I do, and I think he’s important. He is important. If you don’t wish to make an additional effort to understand him on his own terms–which you have not; everything you’ve said about his philosophy thus far (precious little!) has been laughably incorrect–that’s also fine. But don’t prance around pretending you’ve actually understood him and that it’s all rubbish. The first rule of reading is charity. When I read an analytic philosopher, I don’t read only 12 (!) pages, consult a few friends, and then triumphantly proclaim that the whole thing is a pot of incomprehensible crap. Such a brief encounter does not qualify one to issue the bold condemnations you have. For my part, I’ve given a sketch (inadequate at best) of several of Heidegger’s (and others’) major theses. Again, if all you have to offer are petty insults about his writing style and dramatic mischaracterizations of his philosophy, then I have no interest in continuing this discussion.

    Have a good evening!

    p.s. I would not, however, that Heidegger has inspired some of the finest in recent theological work. Look into “radical orthodoxy” sometime…

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror,

    My, where to begin? Well, first I must pause for a sigh of exasperation. After that, I have to say that this will be my last comment in this thread unless someone else desires to pop in and say something constructive. I’d just like to correct a few of your philosophical misunderstandings.

    First, I can see why Heidegger would be quite frustrating for someone trained in the analytic tradition. I wont’ debate here the inferiorities and superiorities of analytic vs. continental philosophy, but I will note that, while continental philosophy (my own training) is deeply logical, it is not concerned with rigidly structured propositions, etc.–the stuff common to analytic logic-chopping (as I call it pejoratively). This makes continental philosophy difficult for analytical types to understand immediately, but I repeat that this is not leave to dismiss the entire continental project. Likewise, I find analytical philosophy to be fairly rugged going, as my training in advanced logic is limited. This does not give me leave, however, to sink the whole ship.

    Moving on…

    Heidegger was not a member of the idealist tradition. In fact, following Nietzsche, he destroyed it. He is also not a solipsist! If anything, Heidegger is a communalist, who insists upon meaningful participation in a community, a world of fellow human beings engaging in common activities. How many times must I insist upon this point?!

    Probably not as many times as I’ll have to insist on this point: HEIDEGGER ACTUALLY HAS SOMETHING TO SAY. Yes, his language is difficult. This is because a) it’s in German and b) he was intentionally attempting to construct new words or reclaim Greek terms for the new concepts he was using. Oh look! There are, in fact, concepts, categories, teachings, arguments, and propositions expressed in Heidegger’s work! The fact that I appended a disclaimer–that I understanding only “darkly”–to my claim to understand Heidegger was merely an appropriate statement of humility. Heidegger’s collected works span 94 volumes. I do not and cannot claim to understand his philosophy exhaustively and completely. No one can make such a claim. Then again, no one, least of all myself, can make such a claim about any philosopher. Heidegger is a difficult thinker, as you well know, and I’m only beginning to understand him. I persist in this quest only because I believe it to be worthwhile.

    Anyway, I could go on, but this is really a fruitless debate. You don’t like Heidegger. Fine. I do, and I think he’s important. He is important. If you don’t wish to make an additional effort to understand him on his own terms–which you have not; everything you’ve said about his philosophy thus far (precious little!) has been laughably incorrect–that’s also fine. But don’t prance around pretending you’ve actually understood him and that it’s all rubbish. The first rule of reading is charity. When I read an analytic philosopher, I don’t read only 12 (!) pages, consult a few friends, and then triumphantly proclaim that the whole thing is a pot of incomprehensible crap. Such a brief encounter does not qualify one to issue the bold condemnations you have. For my part, I’ve given a sketch (inadequate at best) of several of Heidegger’s (and others’) major theses. Again, if all you have to offer are petty insults about his writing style and dramatic mischaracterizations of his philosophy, then I have no interest in continuing this discussion.

    Have a good evening!

    p.s. I would not, however, that Heidegger has inspired some of the finest in recent theological work. Look into “radical orthodoxy” sometime…

  • Cincinnatus

    I always relish my debates with analytic philosophers, though ;-)

    I realize I’ve been a bit brusque; I do apologize if I’ve offended, as it wasn’t my intention. The internet aggrandized my worst features.

    Anyway, if you’d ever like to discuss Heidegger–or anyone else!–on his own terms, I’m ready and waiting.

  • Cincinnatus

    I always relish my debates with analytic philosophers, though ;-)

    I realize I’ve been a bit brusque; I do apologize if I’ve offended, as it wasn’t my intention. The internet aggrandized my worst features.

    Anyway, if you’d ever like to discuss Heidegger–or anyone else!–on his own terms, I’m ready and waiting.

  • Cincinnatus

    aggrandizes*

  • Cincinnatus

    aggrandizes*

  • kenneth

    Thanks so much for the foregoing discussion. Bror too is humble as his last post was confessional. Cinncinatus presents a good case for contnental philosophy which it seems has an affinity for deep meaning into theology.

    Epistemologically the question of trees falling without any one to hear is quintessential, as I believe there is no knowledge unless there is a thinker. Intentional and concious beings are the very stuff of soul/body dualism. And whether one calls it Husserlian or Heidgerian appears to have little difference. The person remains to be one of continuity over time and into eternity in the ressurection glory. Praise God!

  • kenneth

    Thanks so much for the foregoing discussion. Bror too is humble as his last post was confessional. Cinncinatus presents a good case for contnental philosophy which it seems has an affinity for deep meaning into theology.

    Epistemologically the question of trees falling without any one to hear is quintessential, as I believe there is no knowledge unless there is a thinker. Intentional and concious beings are the very stuff of soul/body dualism. And whether one calls it Husserlian or Heidgerian appears to have little difference. The person remains to be one of continuity over time and into eternity in the ressurection glory. Praise God!

  • Stephen

    I’m not sure if Heidegger specifically addresses this, but one of the things about postmodern thinking that I think is helpful is how we overcome or deal with the problem proximity. What I mean is, as an example, it is often the case that you’ll hear something like “well, in Minnesota we . . .” or “back in 1974 . . .” We take our experience to mean something, often something quite vital. It takes into account place and time and how they affect the way we consider truth and/or the meaning we apply to truth. One of my favorite thinkers of recent years is Yi Fu Twan, the geographer and philosopher, who writes about place with incredible insight.

    In relation to theology, I think this is helpful in considering things like evangelism and missions. It recognizes that the other is distinct and really quite alien. I also think it is interesting that Jesus himself felt the need to move around, and the places he performed miracles and preached seem to be as significant as what he actually did, as much as the people he encountered. That peripatetic quality, and the mission focus of the church can seem lost in our attachment to more static ideas of church – buildings, synods, and even traditions.

    Some of my feeling about this comes from experiences abroad in a mission context and recognizing that the Gospel as it is presented is bound and informed by culture and place. It is sometimes done quite poorly because of this. Bringing it into new contexts requires an examination of the ways in which it has been married to specifically western ideas of meaning. Or, seeing how it has blossomed in other contexts, our own sense of our tradition can (and maybe should) shift to better reflect in a particular context what we mean when we say “Christ died for you.”

    Something as delicate as language, the way we use pronouns for God, may come to have more or less value in a given context. An example would be an African language that does not have feminine or masculine pronoun for persons. How does this affect speech about God? I’m not meaning to advocate for gender-neutral language in English, which I actually abhor. However, considering this kind of reality, how much emphasis do we make of gender at the expense of the Gospel? Is it in some way because it is embedded in our language that we make the things St. Paul says about men and women of the 1st. c. into a kind of divine decree for all time? I think it is a good question. Just how important is it to get in there in every conversation about God?

    But then this is exactly why postmodernism feels threatening. Everything really is up for grabs so to speak. I think that is a good thing to some degree. The question then becomes where one will stake their claim to truth and stick to it. That “drift” that is felt, I think, is nothing less than letting go, either willfully or not, of anything in this world that would take the place of faith alone in Christ.

    Oh well, that’s all. Probably makes no sense. It’s not all that rational perhaps, or systematic, or comforting in terms of a coherent worldview. What is left in that case, paradoxically perhaps, is faith.

  • Stephen

    I’m not sure if Heidegger specifically addresses this, but one of the things about postmodern thinking that I think is helpful is how we overcome or deal with the problem proximity. What I mean is, as an example, it is often the case that you’ll hear something like “well, in Minnesota we . . .” or “back in 1974 . . .” We take our experience to mean something, often something quite vital. It takes into account place and time and how they affect the way we consider truth and/or the meaning we apply to truth. One of my favorite thinkers of recent years is Yi Fu Twan, the geographer and philosopher, who writes about place with incredible insight.

    In relation to theology, I think this is helpful in considering things like evangelism and missions. It recognizes that the other is distinct and really quite alien. I also think it is interesting that Jesus himself felt the need to move around, and the places he performed miracles and preached seem to be as significant as what he actually did, as much as the people he encountered. That peripatetic quality, and the mission focus of the church can seem lost in our attachment to more static ideas of church – buildings, synods, and even traditions.

    Some of my feeling about this comes from experiences abroad in a mission context and recognizing that the Gospel as it is presented is bound and informed by culture and place. It is sometimes done quite poorly because of this. Bringing it into new contexts requires an examination of the ways in which it has been married to specifically western ideas of meaning. Or, seeing how it has blossomed in other contexts, our own sense of our tradition can (and maybe should) shift to better reflect in a particular context what we mean when we say “Christ died for you.”

    Something as delicate as language, the way we use pronouns for God, may come to have more or less value in a given context. An example would be an African language that does not have feminine or masculine pronoun for persons. How does this affect speech about God? I’m not meaning to advocate for gender-neutral language in English, which I actually abhor. However, considering this kind of reality, how much emphasis do we make of gender at the expense of the Gospel? Is it in some way because it is embedded in our language that we make the things St. Paul says about men and women of the 1st. c. into a kind of divine decree for all time? I think it is a good question. Just how important is it to get in there in every conversation about God?

    But then this is exactly why postmodernism feels threatening. Everything really is up for grabs so to speak. I think that is a good thing to some degree. The question then becomes where one will stake their claim to truth and stick to it. That “drift” that is felt, I think, is nothing less than letting go, either willfully or not, of anything in this world that would take the place of faith alone in Christ.

    Oh well, that’s all. Probably makes no sense. It’s not all that rational perhaps, or systematic, or comforting in terms of a coherent worldview. What is left in that case, paradoxically perhaps, is faith.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus,
    Again, I said he built upon German Idealism. That may be a bit of a misnomer, but I don’t think that much of one. It tends to me to be a bit synonymous with your use of the term “Continental Philosophy” but I realize there are nuances here. It’s just even for his break, as with Husserl, I think he has more in common with what he is rejecting than he, or you believe.
    Two. I just have little patience for this, “he is so profound that no one can understand him totally” line. This is sophomoric. He isn’t profound. He is sloppy, and obfuscating. And when one reads him critically you are invited to tell yourself that you have accomplished something by understanding him, but you are constantly left with this nagging notion that you may not understand him completely. It plays on your ego that way.
    I really feel sorry for you investing your eggs in that line of philosophy, it is an empty house of cards, falling apart.
    Now, I think you and I have been on this blog long enough for you to know that you don’t have to apologize for tone.
    In the last, I tODDed Radical Orthodoxy this morning, which is to say, I looked it up in Wikipedia. Really? I know Wikipedia isn’t scholarly, but there Heidegger, the boozy beggar, was not even mentioned anywhere in relation to that movement. I’ll say it was an oversight. But the article failed to impress upon me the importance of that movement. It’s another case of the fact that the church has had the answers to the questions they are trying to answer for a long time, they aren’t adding much new, and what they are adding is not particularly needed. I read John Shelby Spong, and I certainly did not need the help of Heidegger to come up with my own apologetic to that man’s drivel. He’s in a long line of liberal theologians, who are just as muddle headed as your hero here.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus,
    Again, I said he built upon German Idealism. That may be a bit of a misnomer, but I don’t think that much of one. It tends to me to be a bit synonymous with your use of the term “Continental Philosophy” but I realize there are nuances here. It’s just even for his break, as with Husserl, I think he has more in common with what he is rejecting than he, or you believe.
    Two. I just have little patience for this, “he is so profound that no one can understand him totally” line. This is sophomoric. He isn’t profound. He is sloppy, and obfuscating. And when one reads him critically you are invited to tell yourself that you have accomplished something by understanding him, but you are constantly left with this nagging notion that you may not understand him completely. It plays on your ego that way.
    I really feel sorry for you investing your eggs in that line of philosophy, it is an empty house of cards, falling apart.
    Now, I think you and I have been on this blog long enough for you to know that you don’t have to apologize for tone.
    In the last, I tODDed Radical Orthodoxy this morning, which is to say, I looked it up in Wikipedia. Really? I know Wikipedia isn’t scholarly, but there Heidegger, the boozy beggar, was not even mentioned anywhere in relation to that movement. I’ll say it was an oversight. But the article failed to impress upon me the importance of that movement. It’s another case of the fact that the church has had the answers to the questions they are trying to answer for a long time, they aren’t adding much new, and what they are adding is not particularly needed. I read John Shelby Spong, and I certainly did not need the help of Heidegger to come up with my own apologetic to that man’s drivel. He’s in a long line of liberal theologians, who are just as muddle headed as your hero here.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    If any of you are concerned with the Boozy beggar reference, her’s a clip of the seminal philosophical commentary from which I received it. Monty Python. It’s a bit course, but I find it hilarious all the same.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    If any of you are concerned with the Boozy beggar reference, her’s a clip of the seminal philosophical commentary from which I received it. Monty Python. It’s a bit course, but I find it hilarious all the same.

  • Cincinnatus

    Stephen,

    Great comment(s)! If I have time later, I may reply. But if I don’t, there’s some great food for thought there.

    Bror,

    I may as well break my vow and reply again. First, there’s no need to continue quibbling about the nuances of continental philosophy, of which there are many. It’s not even relevant to this thread that Heidegger rejects both Hegel and Husserl.

    As for the rest, I emphatically disclaim any assertion that Heidegger is incomprehensible. He’s not. I understand his general project. I have teachers who understand him. I’ve read many secondary sources that exude an understanding of Heidegger. Conversely, I don’t think it’s humanly possible to understand completely any text or philosopher. The language of a text always fails to embody the full intention of the author; on the other hand, our limited intellects always ensure that something is lost in translation. Both are minds and our languages are flawed media. Furthermore, most philosophers are/were more intelligent than I. If it were possible to understand an author completely, why do I find myself reading Plato’s Republic at least once every semester, each time discovering something new, and often something baffling? Why do the Gospels continue to astound and confuse no matter how many times I read them? I’m curious as to where you might have picked up this absurd notion that it is possible to understand any or all authors completely, much less upon one reading of twelve pages of their work. Sure, Heidegger is difficult. But he is readable and comprehensible. I am evidence of this fact. The same goes for any other writer whose writings are still in circulation 100 or more years after his birth.

    The bottom line is this: over and over you’ve asserted that you’ve “understood Heidegger on his own terms,” that you’ve consulted with expert colleagues, that you’ve read the anthologies, that you’ve done your due diligence. All of which has led you to the stunningly sophisticated claim that Heidegger is incomprehensible nonsense. And yet every single specific claim you’ve made about the content of Heidegger’s philosophy has been blatantly incorrect. If you’re going to claim that you understand a philosopher and thereafter pontificate upon his worthlessness, then prove it. You haven’t. You simply keep repeating that you understand Heidegger and that there is nothing worthwhile to understand, but you haven’t demonstrated that you understand one line of Heidegger’s writings. That’s my problem, not yours, because even Heidegger’s legitimate critics acknowledge that he has something important to say and that he has made crucial contributions to the Western tradition. In other words, if you’re going to dump all over an important writer, make sure you know whereof you speak first. You have not demonstrated such knowledge. Quite the opposite. Feel free to hate Heidegger; feel free to misunderstand Heidegger; but do it on your own time. My understanding of Kant’s Critique of Judgment, for instance, is shaky. Therefore, as much as I superficially hate Kant, I don’t stomp into discussions of Kant and claim that my reading of the brief “What Is Enlightenment?” has qualified me to proclaim that Kant is bunk or, worse, meaningless.

    Anyway, thanks for your sympathy, but I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. It gets me out of bed in the morning! This is something that Rawls, Quine, and other analytic philosophers could never succeed in doing.

    Also, say what you will about radical orthodoxy, but Catherine Pickstock writes some fantastic theology; her meditations on the Eucharist are just wonderful.

    I probably should be engaging Stephen, as his comments are more on point, but I couldn’t resist…

  • Cincinnatus

    Stephen,

    Great comment(s)! If I have time later, I may reply. But if I don’t, there’s some great food for thought there.

    Bror,

    I may as well break my vow and reply again. First, there’s no need to continue quibbling about the nuances of continental philosophy, of which there are many. It’s not even relevant to this thread that Heidegger rejects both Hegel and Husserl.

    As for the rest, I emphatically disclaim any assertion that Heidegger is incomprehensible. He’s not. I understand his general project. I have teachers who understand him. I’ve read many secondary sources that exude an understanding of Heidegger. Conversely, I don’t think it’s humanly possible to understand completely any text or philosopher. The language of a text always fails to embody the full intention of the author; on the other hand, our limited intellects always ensure that something is lost in translation. Both are minds and our languages are flawed media. Furthermore, most philosophers are/were more intelligent than I. If it were possible to understand an author completely, why do I find myself reading Plato’s Republic at least once every semester, each time discovering something new, and often something baffling? Why do the Gospels continue to astound and confuse no matter how many times I read them? I’m curious as to where you might have picked up this absurd notion that it is possible to understand any or all authors completely, much less upon one reading of twelve pages of their work. Sure, Heidegger is difficult. But he is readable and comprehensible. I am evidence of this fact. The same goes for any other writer whose writings are still in circulation 100 or more years after his birth.

    The bottom line is this: over and over you’ve asserted that you’ve “understood Heidegger on his own terms,” that you’ve consulted with expert colleagues, that you’ve read the anthologies, that you’ve done your due diligence. All of which has led you to the stunningly sophisticated claim that Heidegger is incomprehensible nonsense. And yet every single specific claim you’ve made about the content of Heidegger’s philosophy has been blatantly incorrect. If you’re going to claim that you understand a philosopher and thereafter pontificate upon his worthlessness, then prove it. You haven’t. You simply keep repeating that you understand Heidegger and that there is nothing worthwhile to understand, but you haven’t demonstrated that you understand one line of Heidegger’s writings. That’s my problem, not yours, because even Heidegger’s legitimate critics acknowledge that he has something important to say and that he has made crucial contributions to the Western tradition. In other words, if you’re going to dump all over an important writer, make sure you know whereof you speak first. You have not demonstrated such knowledge. Quite the opposite. Feel free to hate Heidegger; feel free to misunderstand Heidegger; but do it on your own time. My understanding of Kant’s Critique of Judgment, for instance, is shaky. Therefore, as much as I superficially hate Kant, I don’t stomp into discussions of Kant and claim that my reading of the brief “What Is Enlightenment?” has qualified me to proclaim that Kant is bunk or, worse, meaningless.

    Anyway, thanks for your sympathy, but I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. It gets me out of bed in the morning! This is something that Rawls, Quine, and other analytic philosophers could never succeed in doing.

    Also, say what you will about radical orthodoxy, but Catherine Pickstock writes some fantastic theology; her meditations on the Eucharist are just wonderful.

    I probably should be engaging Stephen, as his comments are more on point, but I couldn’t resist…

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    The proof is reading the guy for five minutes. I did cite and quote him a few posts back. But if it gets you up in the morning….

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    The proof is reading the guy for five minutes. I did cite and quote him a few posts back. But if it gets you up in the morning….

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    And the second thought. I really would like for you to explain this other thing, what exactly is it about Heidegger that revs your engine and gets you out of bed in the morning. What is the problem he answers that you find so pressing, and what is it that you find intriguing about the answer he gives. Because where as I picked him up and read him and some commentary on him the other morning, and found nothing of value, and his writing to be an incoherent mess of giberish not worth my time. And so have maintained that the man has nothing to say, A negative statement that just stands, because well “you can’t prove a negative” though it could be demonstrated should anybody pick up the piece I read. You on the other hand continue to say he has something to say, and some unique perspective. You did have that whole bit about bluring the line between subject and object, but you did not cite Heidegger in any of it. In effect, your problem here in this whole discussion is to effectively communicate what it is Heidegger is saying and how it is so important for the church today.
    I would actually like to see you do that in a post here. tell me for instance how this statement can help me navigate the supposedly troubled theological waters we are in, and does not in fact merely contribute to the confusion of our age. “Existence is a mode of being which is open to the openness of being.”

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    And the second thought. I really would like for you to explain this other thing, what exactly is it about Heidegger that revs your engine and gets you out of bed in the morning. What is the problem he answers that you find so pressing, and what is it that you find intriguing about the answer he gives. Because where as I picked him up and read him and some commentary on him the other morning, and found nothing of value, and his writing to be an incoherent mess of giberish not worth my time. And so have maintained that the man has nothing to say, A negative statement that just stands, because well “you can’t prove a negative” though it could be demonstrated should anybody pick up the piece I read. You on the other hand continue to say he has something to say, and some unique perspective. You did have that whole bit about bluring the line between subject and object, but you did not cite Heidegger in any of it. In effect, your problem here in this whole discussion is to effectively communicate what it is Heidegger is saying and how it is so important for the church today.
    I would actually like to see you do that in a post here. tell me for instance how this statement can help me navigate the supposedly troubled theological waters we are in, and does not in fact merely contribute to the confusion of our age. “Existence is a mode of being which is open to the openness of being.”

  • kenneth

    The quote, “Existence is a mode of being which is open to the openness of being.” Interpretation possible; How we live now in this current age, first advent is now incarnated with Christ Jesus, our existence still subject to error and sin, now open to the healing presence of the Spirit—–God is completely free and open to relationship, even to eternity, anticipating the second advent.

  • kenneth

    The quote, “Existence is a mode of being which is open to the openness of being.” Interpretation possible; How we live now in this current age, first advent is now incarnated with Christ Jesus, our existence still subject to error and sin, now open to the healing presence of the Spirit—–God is completely free and open to relationship, even to eternity, anticipating the second advent.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    Funny kenneth, because according to heidegger, god does not exist, he is not open to the openness of being. And here again I’m dumbfounded, on what basis can he make such a statement?
    But as I occupy another morning in openminded pursuit of understanding, patiently trying to bridge a gulf with cincinnatus, who has abandoned the conversation, after declaring himself the expert of what cannot be understood. I’m rea5ing yet more commentary on “continental philosophy” with a heavy emphasis on Heidegger, and am reminded to respond to another point cincinnatus tries to make, as I read the same complaint, heidegger is more understandable in “german”. Fascinating really. I’ve been reading german since highschool, ikv published translations of German, read a great many book in German. I like to do this, it strokes my ego. But I’m calling B.S.
    If someone wants to write clearly in german, it is a very simple thing top do. And after reading the N.T. In greek same goes for his borrowing words from there. The comentator I’m currently reading, blames it on the complicated subject matter… I’m yet suspect the man is just intentionally obscure, flowery, and meaningless.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    Funny kenneth, because according to heidegger, god does not exist, he is not open to the openness of being. And here again I’m dumbfounded, on what basis can he make such a statement?
    But as I occupy another morning in openminded pursuit of understanding, patiently trying to bridge a gulf with cincinnatus, who has abandoned the conversation, after declaring himself the expert of what cannot be understood. I’m rea5ing yet more commentary on “continental philosophy” with a heavy emphasis on Heidegger, and am reminded to respond to another point cincinnatus tries to make, as I read the same complaint, heidegger is more understandable in “german”. Fascinating really. I’ve been reading german since highschool, ikv published translations of German, read a great many book in German. I like to do this, it strokes my ego. But I’m calling B.S.
    If someone wants to write clearly in german, it is a very simple thing top do. And after reading the N.T. In greek same goes for his borrowing words from there. The comentator I’m currently reading, blames it on the complicated subject matter… I’m yet suspect the man is just intentionally obscure, flowery, and meaningless.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror,

    Eesh, I haven’t “abandoned” the conversation. I just don’t camp out here all weekend waiting for your replies–other responsibilities have intervened.

    Your questions are good ones, but you’re still approaching this from the posture of “it’s all hogwash unless you prove otherwise.” That’s not a very open, charitable disposition, and it’s certainly not a good foundation for constructive dialogue.

    But I’ll see what I can do when I have time. For now, I’ll note that kenneth’s interpretation is “curious” (i.e., it’s not something Heidegger would say), but neither is it safe to claim, as you have, Bror, that Heidegger was an atheist.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror,

    Eesh, I haven’t “abandoned” the conversation. I just don’t camp out here all weekend waiting for your replies–other responsibilities have intervened.

    Your questions are good ones, but you’re still approaching this from the posture of “it’s all hogwash unless you prove otherwise.” That’s not a very open, charitable disposition, and it’s certainly not a good foundation for constructive dialogue.

    But I’ll see what I can do when I have time. For now, I’ll note that kenneth’s interpretation is “curious” (i.e., it’s not something Heidegger would say), but neither is it safe to claim, as you have, Bror, that Heidegger was an atheist.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    OK Cincinnatus, now this is geeting to be hillarious. I didn’t say heidegger was an athiest. I said according to him god does not exist, his statement, direct quot. In the same paragraph he says rocks don’t exist! Existence being a mode of being that is open to the openness of being. So I was merely pointing out to kenneth, that to be consistent with heidegger, you could not apply that statement to god in the way he did. I figured you being an expert on heidegger would have been able to pick up on this speciall meaning of existence in heidegger, as it seems, as meaningless gibberish I find it to be, actually quite important to understanding heidegger, being a key phrase in the text he himself desired to be remembered by, and the very subject of his whole work based on the now many commentaries I have read and skimmed, most of which devote atleas a section if not sections explaining in order to explain heidegger.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    OK Cincinnatus, now this is geeting to be hillarious. I didn’t say heidegger was an athiest. I said according to him god does not exist, his statement, direct quot. In the same paragraph he says rocks don’t exist! Existence being a mode of being that is open to the openness of being. So I was merely pointing out to kenneth, that to be consistent with heidegger, you could not apply that statement to god in the way he did. I figured you being an expert on heidegger would have been able to pick up on this speciall meaning of existence in heidegger, as it seems, as meaningless gibberish I find it to be, actually quite important to understanding heidegger, being a key phrase in the text he himself desired to be remembered by, and the very subject of his whole work based on the now many commentaries I have read and skimmed, most of which devote atleas a section if not sections explaining in order to explain heidegger.

  • Cincinnatus

    What’s hilarious?

    First of all, for Heidegger, God does not “exist” because God cannot exist in any way common to the way that human beings exist. God is no thing. Philosophy and contemporary man must acquaint himself with the idea of Nothing.

    Second, the meaning of your quote would require a long disquisition on Heideggerian philosophy for which I haven’t time. In other words, it requires a lot of context, and you’ve offered it completely decontextualized. But let’s try anyway: for Heidegger, the entire tradition of Western metaphysics, starting with Plato, is corrupted, having forgotten the question of Being itself–i.e., we no longer inquire into the being of beings. What does it mean to be? What is it to be? We take both the question and the answer, if there is one, for granted. We concern ourselves with facile notions of “ontological correctness” (i.e., does a thing conform to my idea of the thing? think of the Platonic forms…) rather than the “fundamental ontology” of phenomena as they actually appear (hence, his method is called phenomenology). The problem is that, to get to the truth of the matter, of being, we cannot resort to the metaphysical concepts and speculative propositions of past philosophy. Philosophy, in other words, is at an impasse. The only manner by which we can understand the being of beings is by properly understanding the only being for whom being is an issue–Dasein, i.e., the human being.

    With me so far? All things are “open” to being in that they receive being from out of nothingness (whether that be God, the Aristotelian demiurge, or whatever). Only Dasein, however, is open to the openness of being. Only human beings, in other words, are conscious of the being of beings; only human beings can bring to light the truth of beings. The trick is to elucidate the condition of Dasein, then. This is what Heidegger does in Being and Time. For starters, Dasein always finds himself “fallen” and “thrown” into a particular world that temporally conditions his habits, moods, etc. A rock doesn’t “exist” properly speaking unless it exists in a particular world accessible to the consciousness of Dasein. Otherwise it is an inert, meaningless object. (Note that the key here for the interpreter is to understand the new ways in which Heidegger is using certain terms like “exist,” “ontological,” etc.)

    Anyway, this is only a very poor primer on some very introductory elements of the Heideggerian method. It’s very difficult to summarize Heidegger in a format like this, so I would rely on commentaries and not my ramblings if given the choice. But it’s a start…

    At this point, however, we’ve reached an impasse. I simply don’t have time now to summarize/explain/clarify the entirety of Heidegger’s project, much less that of Gadamer and others, and apply his insights to Christian theology. The point in my earlier comments was simply that postmodern philosophers have elaborated a few concepts that are, in fact, useful to the orthodox faithful. I’ve listed a few of those. Maybe we could continue this discussion in another venue!

  • Cincinnatus

    What’s hilarious?

    First of all, for Heidegger, God does not “exist” because God cannot exist in any way common to the way that human beings exist. God is no thing. Philosophy and contemporary man must acquaint himself with the idea of Nothing.

    Second, the meaning of your quote would require a long disquisition on Heideggerian philosophy for which I haven’t time. In other words, it requires a lot of context, and you’ve offered it completely decontextualized. But let’s try anyway: for Heidegger, the entire tradition of Western metaphysics, starting with Plato, is corrupted, having forgotten the question of Being itself–i.e., we no longer inquire into the being of beings. What does it mean to be? What is it to be? We take both the question and the answer, if there is one, for granted. We concern ourselves with facile notions of “ontological correctness” (i.e., does a thing conform to my idea of the thing? think of the Platonic forms…) rather than the “fundamental ontology” of phenomena as they actually appear (hence, his method is called phenomenology). The problem is that, to get to the truth of the matter, of being, we cannot resort to the metaphysical concepts and speculative propositions of past philosophy. Philosophy, in other words, is at an impasse. The only manner by which we can understand the being of beings is by properly understanding the only being for whom being is an issue–Dasein, i.e., the human being.

    With me so far? All things are “open” to being in that they receive being from out of nothingness (whether that be God, the Aristotelian demiurge, or whatever). Only Dasein, however, is open to the openness of being. Only human beings, in other words, are conscious of the being of beings; only human beings can bring to light the truth of beings. The trick is to elucidate the condition of Dasein, then. This is what Heidegger does in Being and Time. For starters, Dasein always finds himself “fallen” and “thrown” into a particular world that temporally conditions his habits, moods, etc. A rock doesn’t “exist” properly speaking unless it exists in a particular world accessible to the consciousness of Dasein. Otherwise it is an inert, meaningless object. (Note that the key here for the interpreter is to understand the new ways in which Heidegger is using certain terms like “exist,” “ontological,” etc.)

    Anyway, this is only a very poor primer on some very introductory elements of the Heideggerian method. It’s very difficult to summarize Heidegger in a format like this, so I would rely on commentaries and not my ramblings if given the choice. But it’s a start…

    At this point, however, we’ve reached an impasse. I simply don’t have time now to summarize/explain/clarify the entirety of Heidegger’s project, much less that of Gadamer and others, and apply his insights to Christian theology. The point in my earlier comments was simply that postmodern philosophers have elaborated a few concepts that are, in fact, useful to the orthodox faithful. I’ve listed a few of those. Maybe we could continue this discussion in another venue!

  • Cincinnatus

    *Although I find it hard to believe that you’ve perused “many” commentaries in the last 1.5 days. Don’t you have any weekend plans?! ;-)

  • Cincinnatus

    *Although I find it hard to believe that you’ve perused “many” commentaries in the last 1.5 days. Don’t you have any weekend plans?! ;-)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus,
    What is hilarious, is that when I say according to Heidegger, God does not Exist, you the expert on Heidegger and should know his language well enough to understand what is meant by that statement, assume that I have just declared him an atheist. I did not. I did not need you explanation to understand what Heidegger said. I understood it perfectly fine. According to Heidegger, God does not exist in the same way rocks don’t exist, or Ek-sist. Conversely it seems God does have a mode of being, evidently more akin to that of a rock than of a human. He is there, but he doesn’t exist. That is what is funny.
    But I’d like to point out given your last post, that your original contention was that Heidegger had a lot to contribut to Christian Theology. However, now you decline, saying it would take to much space and time. I think had you just done it in the beginning we might be further along, as we’ve been jostling back and forth for time enough to write quite a substantial review should one actually wish too. And why a different venue? I mean if you want my Email or to look me up on Facebook fine. But why not here where so many others can benefit?
    I have read and perused to my count 4 commentaries on Heidegger this week, and read one of his works. Perhaps it doesn’t make me an expert on Heidegger, but it has told me enough that I don’t care to become an expert on Heidegger. As for my weekend plans, well I get enough done on the weekends, and I read quite fast. I’ve read enough philosophy that my mind has become quite attuned to understanding the points people are trying to make, quite quickly also.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Cincinnatus,
    What is hilarious, is that when I say according to Heidegger, God does not Exist, you the expert on Heidegger and should know his language well enough to understand what is meant by that statement, assume that I have just declared him an atheist. I did not. I did not need you explanation to understand what Heidegger said. I understood it perfectly fine. According to Heidegger, God does not exist in the same way rocks don’t exist, or Ek-sist. Conversely it seems God does have a mode of being, evidently more akin to that of a rock than of a human. He is there, but he doesn’t exist. That is what is funny.
    But I’d like to point out given your last post, that your original contention was that Heidegger had a lot to contribut to Christian Theology. However, now you decline, saying it would take to much space and time. I think had you just done it in the beginning we might be further along, as we’ve been jostling back and forth for time enough to write quite a substantial review should one actually wish too. And why a different venue? I mean if you want my Email or to look me up on Facebook fine. But why not here where so many others can benefit?
    I have read and perused to my count 4 commentaries on Heidegger this week, and read one of his works. Perhaps it doesn’t make me an expert on Heidegger, but it has told me enough that I don’t care to become an expert on Heidegger. As for my weekend plans, well I get enough done on the weekends, and I read quite fast. I’ve read enough philosophy that my mind has become quite attuned to understanding the points people are trying to make, quite quickly also.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Now, what is more Hillarious is this. After claiming that Heidegger has much to offer Christian theology, you write this, “First of all, for Heidegger, God does not “exist” because God cannot exist in any way common to the way that human beings exist.” You do see how that statement no matter how you cut it, is at great odds with Christian theology from the very get go, anchored as it is in the God-man Jesus Christ. For Christian’s the heart of theology is that God did and does exist, even in the manner of Heidegger’s use of the term exist, precisely as a human being.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Now, what is more Hillarious is this. After claiming that Heidegger has much to offer Christian theology, you write this, “First of all, for Heidegger, God does not “exist” because God cannot exist in any way common to the way that human beings exist.” You do see how that statement no matter how you cut it, is at great odds with Christian theology from the very get go, anchored as it is in the God-man Jesus Christ. For Christian’s the heart of theology is that God did and does exist, even in the manner of Heidegger’s use of the term exist, precisely as a human being.

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