Sauf Le Nom – “Christian”
The designation “Christian” maintains both positive and negative resonances. This is news to no one. Yet, postmodernism’s acute consciousness of language and its value has lead to an odd predicament and tension within the last few years. On the one hand, there are those Jesus-followers of a quite conventional variety, by no means “radical theologians,” who have sought to strip themselves of the label “Christian.” This label, it is contended, is weighed down by both present political and moral connotations and a violent past of such severity, or (from the opposite end of the traditional theology paradigm) the term is not attested to scripturally with the requisite vigor to justify its use. Either way, “Christian” is no longer understood to be a recoverable term [see. e.g. here or here]. Yet, on precisely the opposite end of the philosophical spectrum, we have a wide array of Neo-Marxist materialists (e.g. Badiou and Zizek) clamoring for the title of “Christian” (see: Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism, The Monstrosity of Christ, or Paul’s New Moment). This leaves us with an unprecedented paradox. The name “Christian” is becoming the domain of the radical theologian and continental philosopher, at the same time that it is being slowly abandoned by the traditional theist. What does this mean for the future of the “Christian”? Are these perspectives relegated to the fringes of their respective positions, or is “Christian” destined to become the name of the radical theologian and philosopher, abandoned by traditional religiosity?