Theology and Critical Political Theory: A Brief Theological Critique and Proposal
IntroductionCritical political theory is an intellectual/political movement within the broader philosophical and social disciplines. As such, it is an active engagement that is enacted in acontingent relationship to particular historical developments that form the real-time contexts inwhich philosophical discourse takes place. In particular, this relationship for 20th century criticaltheory is illustrated in the lives of specific people and their writings that include the neo-Marxistsof the Frankfurt school and the French postmoderns. Similarly, Christian theology exists withinthe context of a specific history tied to a particular people. In contrast to many other movements,however, the Christian theological task claims as one of its primary strengths its own historicalcontingency on the people called Church from which the alternative politic of Jesus Christ is being made manifest.The overarching scheme of critical social/political theory as primarily an intellectualmovement can be generally defined as the developing of a theory of society, history, and humanfaculty, which moves towards the emancipation of humanity from the constraints that bind andoppress in a systematic fashion that is intrinsic to the nature of the societal system, as it thenexists.
Such an aim towards liberation is seen beyond German critical theory in the French postmoderns such as Baudrillard, Lyotard, and Foucault with their different attacks uponcommonly held societal presuppositions. As this emancipatory task unfolds into the various
Terminology specifically utilizing variations of the concept of emancipation and political critique withregard to theological language may be seen in such works as:
Theology of Hope: On TheGround And The Implications Of A Christian Eschatology
Minneapolis : Fortress Press, 1993), as well as in theanalysis of Moltmann¶s political theology in comparison/contrast to the aptly labled ³theological politics´ found inthe work of Stanley Hauerwas in: Arne Rasmusson,
The Church as Polis: From Political Theology to Theological Politics as Exemplified by Jürgen Moltmann and Stanley Hauerwas
otre Dame: University of
otre Dame Press,1995). See also Gary Simpson¶s analysis of Paul Tillich in: Gary M. Simpson,
Critical Social Theory: Prophetic Reason, Civil Society, and Christian Imagination
Minneapolis : Fortress Press, 2002) in which he explores therelationship of the Frankfurt School critical theorists and Tillich with regard to Tillich¶s theological works.