Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Apotheosis of Our Shame: On Ephraim Radner's Rendering of the Christie Figure

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Apotheosis of Our Shame: On Ephraim Radner's Rendering of the Christie Figure

Article excerpt

The Apotheosis of Our Shame: On Ephraim Radner's Rendering of the Christie Figure

The End of the Church: A Pneumatology of Christian Division in the West. By Ephraim Rådner. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Publishing, 1998. 365 pp. $37.50 (paper).

Spirit and Nature: The Saint-Médard Miracles in 18th-Century Jansenism. By Ephraim Radner. New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2002.432 pp. $65.00 (paper).

Hope among the Fragments: The Broken Church and the Engagement of Scripture. By Ephraim Rådner. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brazos Press, 2004. 240 pp. $24.99 (paper).

The Fate of Communion: The Agony of Anglicanism and the Future of a Global Church. By Ephraim Rådner and Philip Turner. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Publishing, 2006. 320 pp. $29.50 (paper).

A Brutal Unity: The Spiritual Politics of the Christian Church. By Ephraim Radner. Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 2012. 482 pp. $49.95 (cloth).

Time and the Word: Figurai Reading of the Christian Scriptures. By Ephraim Rådner. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Publishing, 2016. 334 pp. $50.00 (cloth).

The real political task in a society such as ours is to criticize the workings of institutions that appear to be both neutral and independent, to criticize and attack them in such a manner that the political violence that has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked.

Michel Foucault1

The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care, right? Yeah.

The Offspring2

One of the many ironies of contemporary Anglican theology is that-Sarah Coakley s evocation of the Annales School notwithstanding-it is Ephraim Rådner whose project tracks closest to the ethos of Michel Foucault's. This irony is not simply in the obvious-that Rådner is vigorous in defending the transhistorical, figurai significance of "sexuality" and a gender binary, while Foucaults intent was to demolish them. But it is in the fact that Radner's project accepts so much of Foucault's gambit, only to put it to such different work. Both display a fascination with arcane and transgressive historical incidents, which they summon to disturb established intellectual conventions; both have a keen, and often unsettling, awareness of powers entanglement in truth; motifs of violence, especially sadomasochism and self-immolation, recur across their work; and genealogical, structuralist, and historicist methods are at the foundation of their most critical theoretical arguments.3

Radner is a conservative in every proper (that is, nonpejorative) sense of that term. And like every conservative worthy of the name, his conservatism is erudite, idiosyncratic, and defies established academic (and ecclesial) conventions. In other words, there is something of the radical in him. Radners detractors and admirers ought to ponder tliis fact with some care. Too often Radner is assessed and categorized according to how well one can place his opinions, say on ecclesiastical polity or same-sex matrimony, relative to established conventions. But it is rare that his opinions, even when they follow convention, have a conventional rationale. They are always an iteration of some aspect of his theological vision, which is a project that has been unfolding for two decades now, and which involves the complex interweaving of ecclesiology, church politics (church unity, in particular), pneumatology, historiography, providence, theodicy, and the hermeneutics of the Christie figure. None of these different elements can be easily separated from one another, but figurai hermeneutics is the cornerstone of the project. Radners publication of Time and the Word: Figurai Reading of the Christian Scriptures this year marks an important moment in that project, because it gives us Radner's most sustained and direct statement of what he understands figurai reading to be, and why he insists it is the shibboleth-perhaps another figurai irony-that he and his allies argue that it is, especially for the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church. …

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