Publication details [#2540]

Bessler-Northcutt, Joseph. 2004. Truth as empire: A troubling metaphor in Christian theology. Figures of a Changing World 65 (2) : 137–162. 26 pp.
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Johann Baptist Metz was right. Jesus is a dangerous memory! He remains the most dangerous and divisive topic among Christian theologians. The divisiveness hangs upon the question of how to speak about Jesus theologically. For many, indeed most theologians, theological speech about Jesus must be informed principally by Christianity's traditional master narrative, which locates discussion of Jesus within a web of topics from Trinity to creation through the logos of God, to Incarnation, Atonement, the Second Coming, and eschatological judgment. While varying interpretations of this master narrative are allowable, speaking outside of this narrative space is not. For others, the structural unity and clearly bounded character of Christianity's master narrative has itself become deeply problematic in a scientific, democratic, feminist, and multi-cultural society. The narrative, which moves from creation to eschatology, unfolding a providential and trinitarian view of human history, is not simply mythologically naïve; it is experientially obtuse and morally suspect. I hope to demonstrate that Christianity's unified narrative, which claims to speak the definitive truth about human beings in the face of ultimate reality, is itself an imperial discourse, requiring theologies to be at once defensive and culturally aggrandizing. (Joe Bessler-Northcutt)