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Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-Secular Theology

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  164 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Although God is making a comeback in our society, popular culture still takes its orders from the Enlightenment, a movement that denied faith a prominent role in society. Today, many are questioning this elevation of reason over faith. How should Christians respond to a secular world that continues to push faith to the margins?
While there is still no consensus concerning
Paperback, 291 pages
Published December 1st 2004 by Baker Academic
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David Mosley
Aug 13, 2012 David Mosley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Peter Stevens, Zachariah Reynolds, JJ Simpson, Colin Nicolle
This book, both because of its critiques and in spite of them, has made me very interested in the project of Radical Orthodoxy. I'm now specifically interested in how it relates to reality as I have up to now understood it, and how it relates to my own background in the Restoration Movement. I recommend this book to anyone who is no longer satisfied with the sacred-secular divide and is searching for ways to express their belief in the sacredness of all things created by God (which is to say eve ...more
Jacob Aitken
EDIT: I am now quite critical of RO. This is an older review.

RO is a group of theologians who saw the bankruptcy of modernity, and the inability of post modernity to answer the tough questions, thus positing a critique that seeks to avoid both secularism and pre-modernity. It is similar to a Parisian Augustine. RO is sensitive to post-modernity's critiques of secularism. The book offers a multi-angled critique of secularalism: epistemological, ontological, and ecclesiological.

Once Up
Apr 03, 2015 Will rated it really liked it
As I become increasingly interested in the project of RO, I have found this book to be a great explanation and complement to RONT. Smith is admittedly one of my favorite authors despite our confessional differences.

Pros for this book:
- Smith does a great job at making the RO material accessible. I think RO has yet to make it on the popular level (although, should it?) largely because the RO writings are so dense (looking at you, Milbank). Smith provides a truly great "Introduction" to the sensi
Jul 23, 2013 Jake rated it liked it
This was a fine overview, but I guess I'm just not convinced that RO is the way to go. There's a false dichotomy, it seems, between neo-Platonism and nihilism. I don't want to fully embrace either one, but RO says I have to.
May 04, 2009 Daniel rated it really liked it
I really got psyched about it when I read it, but then I came down off it a little. It's a good book, but Radical Orthodoxy likes sounding real extreme, except it isn't.
Frankie Della Torre
Radical Orthodoxy is a movement that seeks to use postmodernism as a catalyst for returning to an unapologetically Christian view of reality. In short, RO proponents criticize modernity's epistemology, ontology, and metaphysic - using many of the postmodern arguments put forth by thinkers like Lyotard, Derrida, and Baudrillard - and present a specifically Christian epistemology, ontology, and metaphysic.

RO orthodoxy seeks to break ties with all things "secular," since the very idea of a "secular
Aug 16, 2007 James rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who think church is boring but also that atheists are arrogant
This is a great introduction to Radical Orthodoxy, a school of thought in desperate need of such an overview for the unfortunate reason that its principal practitioners make no sense. Seriously, Milbank is an absolute nightmare to read, but Smith clears it up somewhat. The most basic claim is a very interesting one, perhaps drawing on Prof. Adam Bronson's belief that all Derrida/Spivak/et al. really want is a philosophical grounding for moderate left pluralism. RO people agree with this criticis ...more
Aug 08, 2012 Ryan rated it really liked it
n typical Smith fashion, this introduction is very much a critical introduction. In the first part of the book he maps out RO, its historical approach, and its relationship to other current theological movements. In the second half he puts RO in dialogue with the Dutch Reformed movement, causing each to critique the other. The second part is by far the better, with chapters 5 (epistemology) and 6 (ontology) being the shinning pinnacle of the book. However, the shinning pinnacle is neither much b ...more
Apr 29, 2016 Luke rated it really liked it
Great introduction to, and synthesis of, complex material. Connection to Neo-Calvinism seemed awkward.
This is an excellent introduction and Reformed critique that is both knowledgable of its subject and sympathetic .
Luke Dubbelman
Complex "introduction"... but great stuff. Would love to read again.
Chris Comis
Sep 18, 2012 Chris Comis rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy, theology
Not as good as I thought it was going to be. I generally like Smith, and appreciate all that he's done to try and wed Kuyperian Reformed theology with Radical Orthodoxy, but he just failed to deliver any significant "ah-ha" moments for me here. It seemed like he was more interested in writing a scholarly report, full of academic respect and scholarly pats on the back, rather than really challenging any of the several theological traditions he mentions with any substantive critiques.

It was alrigh
Jul 22, 2014 Steve rated it it was amazing
Superb overview, highly recommended.
Sep 04, 2012 Jeff rated it it was amazing

Smith offers a critical engagement with Radical Orthodoxy, a theological movement that offers a theological position described as, "postmodern critical Augustinianism." Smith interacts with RO as an ally and brings his own reformed theological heritage into the conversation. The result is an engaging interaction between two theological schools with numerous points of parallel as well as several areas of marked distinction.
May 08, 2013 Mike rated it liked it
Good introduction and overview of Radical Orthodoxy. Even if you do not necessarily agree with the tenants of this movement, which I do not, it is a good primer to this increasingly popular post-secular theology.
Nov 29, 2008 Charles rated it really liked it
Really helpful entree into the world of Milbank, Pickstock, and company. Added bonus: relates Radical Orthodoxy to the equally encompassing thought world of Dooyeweerd and his Dutch Reformed school.
Mar 16, 2009 Greg rated it liked it
Pretty good overview of the movement, and helpful topical bibliography for each chapter. Not intended as an RO original source. RO has really captured my imagination lately.
Oct 15, 2010 Nate rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Good overview of this interesting theological approach. I like how Smith interacts from a Reformed perspective.
Aaron Cummings
Jun 05, 2012 Aaron Cummings rated it really liked it
Good food for thought.To measure this book by its title, Smith is a capable cartographer.
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“The state does not take a merely temporal regulatory role and leave salvation in the hands of the church; rather, the modern state seeks to replace the church by itself becoming a soteriological institution.16 It is in this sense, then, that the modern state is a parody of the church: “The body of the state is a simulacrum, a false copy, of the Body of Christ” (RONT, 182). As a result, while political rhetoric may suggest that the state is confined to a “public” sphere or that the reign of the secular is circumscribed, in fact the modern state demands complete allegiance, and the reign of the secular does not tolerate territories of resistance.17 The state is happy to absorb all kinds of private pursuits under the umbrella of civil society, but it cannot tolerate a religious community that claims to be the only authentic polis and proclaims a king who is a rival to both Caesar and Leviathan. In such a case, this community’s allegiance to its king ultimately trumps its allegiance to the state or empire, and its understanding of the nature of human persons does not fit the normative picture of liberalism. This the state cannot tolerate. It is in this sense that “every worship service is a challenge to Caesar.” 1 likes
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