Political theology finds itself at an impasse between those which trumpet traditional views of divine surplus and transcendence, and atheologies which deconstruct faith and the divine to a barely coherent (let alone recognizable) point. This article aims to map out the contours of a reworked political theology, one with forgiveness and divine suffering at its centre (juxtaposing the transcendent in the immanent) yet one which is neither held confined by the need for dogmatic assent nor rendered unintelligible by a rejection of the conceptual.
John CaputoThe Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event (Indiana: Indiana University Press2006) p. 96; John D. Caputo ‘The Absolute The Perverse Core of Hegel and Radical Theology’ in Slavoj Žižek Clayton Crockett and Creston Davis eds Hegel and the Infinite: Religion Politics & Dialectic (New York: Columbia University Press 2011) pp. 47–66 at pp. 52–3.
Ibid. pp. 134–58. Art is of course not the exclusive tool of emancipator politics. Terry Eagleton has noted how tragic art has been used to sustain political power since the time of Aristotle for instance tragedy has been deployed as a kind of ‘public therapy for a citizenry in danger of emotional flabbiness’ (Terry Eagleton ‘Tragedy & Revolution’ in Creston Davis John Milbank and Slavoj Žižek eds Theology & the Political: The New Debate (Durham: Duke University Press 2005) pp. 7–21 at pp. 15–16).
Clayton CrockettRadical Political Theology: Religion and Politics After Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press2011) pp. 123–4.
Slavoj ŽižekLess Than Nothing: Hegel in the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism (London: Verso2012) pp. 107–8. To be fair Žižek states that radical acts of God merely have to appear as ‘evil’ in order to destabilize the pre-existing system the dialectical trajectory being that true Good only emerges in the space cleared away by evil (Ibid. p. 107).
Ibid. p. 362. It is worth comparing Alan Lewis’ views with that of Clayton Crockett who despite rejecting traditional theology nevertheless assert—much in line with a theology of holy Saturday for which ‘exposure to opposition exclusion (and) termination belongs to God’s identity’ for instance death is at the heart of the divine redeemer (Ibid p. 188)—that ‘Living is being-towards-death but death is not simply the terminus or telos of life; it is that which makes living possible that from which life proceeds’ (Crockett Radical Political Theology p. 134 my italics).
Philip L. Barnes‘Talking Politics, Talking Forgiveness’Scottish Journal of Theology64 (2010) 64–79at 69–70. Barnes’ perspective of political forgiveness is overly pessimistic which is hardly surprising given his inclination to first draw an inextricable link between the efficacy of forgiveness and the wiliness of offenders to repent and secondly relate forgiveness to a particular theological doctrine of atonement Ibid. pp. 72–9. He discusses a handful of Biblical passages stating the need for repentance from the wrong-doer but in our view doesn’t give sufficient emphasis of verses which declare the power of God to work wonders through our faith (Mt. 19:26) and how forgiveness ‘against the odds’ is even divinely commanded (Mt. 5:43–48).