Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Zizek as Critic of American Evangelicalism

I just finished David Fitch's book called the End of Evangelicalism. It was a fun read as most of the criticisms he has for Evangelicalism I totally agree with (there is much here that I have spoke to my brother about on many occasions). The novel part of the book is that he uses the early work of Zizek on ideology to critique the three main "Master signifiers" of American Evangelicalism: 1) inerrant Bible, 2) the decision for Christ, and 3) the Christian nation.

After using Zizek to illustrate that the three signifiers are often empty, he moves to reinterpret them in a more new, concrete and productive way. I think this section is hit and miss because his aim is a church polity and as mission (I guess there is a lot of literature on this mode of thought but it is somewhat new to me). In short, read the Bible Christologically via Barth/Balthasar (which I like) and that the decision leads to the community of the kingdom of God and not a powerfulvia Milbank, Yoder and N.T. Wright. So one of the main targets of the book is the individualism often seen in the Protestant world of evangelicals. This is a book written to evangelicals to try to rethink the roots of evangelicalism.

I guess I fall more in line with Barth theologically and Hegel (via Rose and Zizek) philosophically than to see the church as a separate space of living examples of Christ in an important way (the turn to ecclesiology is way to vague and sacramental for me). For me, I see it as a place for failures/triumphs and bumbling buffoons who sometimes have moments of inspiration from time to time. In short, churches are places where the tensions of society come into conflict with an ancient belief system that has shaped the social-political situation we live in. It is a continual dialectical game that deals with these tensions but never in a complete way (maybe that is why we can explain denominational breaks as an escape into holism or a yearning of a completeness that will never come). So witnessing Christ would be open about the tensions we live with.

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