Postmodern Christianity: Doing Theology in the Contemporary World

Article excerpt

Postmodern Christianity: Doing Theology in the Contemporary World by John W. Riggs Trinity Press International, Harrisburg, 2003. 192 pp. $19.00. ISBN 1-56338-364-0.

WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS for Christian theology and proclamation in what is described as our "postmodern" world? Identifying the core of postmodern insights as an emphasis on context, Riggs sees two problematic responses to this question: on the one hand, a complete succumbing to context that would dissolve into a complete relativism or perspectivalism that sacrifices any notion of "universal" truth; on the other hand, a retrenched dogmatism that appeals to a positivist external authority. Riggs's goal is a "middle ground" or third way that he describes as an "inclusive liberal theology," which draws on two primary resources: liberationist theologies (p. 7) and the process theology of Hartshorne (pp. 112-114). The relationship of this inclusive liberal theology to postmodernism is two-fold and dialogical: first, because Riggs (mistakenly) construes liberation theologies as an "effect" of postmodernism, he takes the liberationist emphasis to be a postmodern theme; second, and in the other direction, he sees Christian theology offering to postmodernism a kind of moral foundation, preventing it from sliding into a sheer relativism.

But in the end, what we get from Riggs is just a contemporary restatement of liberal theology after passing through a dialogue with Wittgenstein, Derrida, and Foucault (pp. 73-80). In other words, there's nothing post-modern about this project: Riggs's liberal theology is the consummation of an Enlightenment notion of "universal" religion. …