Friday, April 27, 2007

Systematic Theology and The Body Politic, My Questions to Thomisticguy: 1 of 6

This is the first post in a series of six, which will, for the most part simply record part of a recent conversation with Thomisticguy at his post called "The Emerging Movement," on the importance and function or role of Systematic Theology.


A. To start with my trying to understand where you’re at.

A.1. On the body politic. You said: “My response is, yes, I also believe that Fitch’s thoughts are “an example of thinking in terms of a body politic.” Additionally, his article is about the relationship between systematic theology and the body politic. However, my view is that we need to make systematic theology a high priority precisely to avoid the kinds of theological errors that Fitch is making. If the ECM devalues systematic theology it will be susceptible to these kinds of serious errors.”

So, are you saying that thinking in terms of a body politic is in itself “the kind of serious error” to which you refer? Even regardless of the issue or question of multiculturalism within that potential body politic? If so, then what is a political relationship? Is it only a relationship between a governing “body” and one governed? And what too would be a social relationship, or even a “society”? Would a “society” just be a mass of people, in which a social relationship is a glumb or piece from that “mass” relating to another glump or piece? Yes, I made up the word “glump”; and yes I used the word piece instead of “part” or “member” on purpose – to ask my question.

My suspicion is that its not like that for you, but that political and or social entities of whatever sort are generally defined for you by geographical or territorial markers or boundaries and/or property boundaries. And with differences in political and/or economic ideologies that characterize different political groups or “nations.” And then maybe cultural, linguistic and racial differences come into play as well for you, I would imagine.

My basic question is whether or not your idea of what forms, makes or defines a community has anything to do with its being a “body politic” – since geography and ideology really doesn’t necessarily make up a “body politic”? Additionally, I am asking whether for you thinking of it in such terms would be a “serious error”? Is being part of a body politic not actually an essential part of what it means to be human?

A.2. On the Cross, presence and violence. In your attempts to understand what I mean by “a metaphysics of presence”, you quoted: “Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker argue that belief in the saving power of Jesus's death has created a culture in which violence and suffering are accepted, in which destructive self-sacrifice is endured by the faithful—and especially by women. Rather than build a message of salvation around a traumatic and torturous death—God's murder of his own son—Brock and Parker suggest that Christians seek salvation through love, through compassionate connection with God and the world. They suggest a theology not of atonement, but of presence.”

Are you thinking that Fitch (or myself) are devaluing the cross or its violence in regards to its theological significance? Or that we are devaluing contemporary humans’ relationship to the cross (not to ask an either/or question between the theological value of the cross and a contemporary human being’s relation to the cross, but to ask two separate questions)? Or are you thinking that Fitch or myself are misinterpreting the Cross’s consequences for our ideas of justice in the world – that the Cross’s message to humans about how to relate to each other “externally” is not coming across properly?

And marginally, how does this relate to Aquinas and “to each his own”? In other words, does Aquinas’ notion in some way determine what you are asking here or what you mean by your question? If so, then how?

A.3. Also in regards to the above quote from Brock and Parker, what is your reaction to B.3., below?

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