Rather, he points out the dynamism of repeating conversion point 3 qua caring for the soul of the person point 2 , that is, the understanding of Being point 1. The kernel is the transformation of the ontological status of humankind after Christianity, after Europe. The second question is asked by philosophers of religion or perhaps even theologians who accept the challenge to think about Christianity after Christendom. Then, I will present a positive interpretation. Particularly, there is no space for faith in individual immortality.
What remains after this demythologization or deconstruction? Shall we adopt Christianity as a moral order, a religion of an enlightened reason? This consciousness should equip humans to fight nihilism because, as it follows from the previous, this fight is only and solely the task of the human being. One cannot expect any external redemption. The positive side of this heavy demand is human freedom. Or, in other words, the message of a Christianity after the death of God is the call of human freedom, that is, the experience of transcendence with regard to the world of things.
To sum up, what remains from Christianity is its radical demand on kenosis. In this respect, kenosis appertains to both transcendence and immanence. It is the kenosis of God and also the opening of oneself in absolute surrender, in which one is supposed to find true meaning. This is perhaps a Christianity that has been thought to its end, that is, a heretical Christianity without God, without transcendence, without metaphysics, a radical Christianity of the loneliness of the cross.
However, in response to these interpretations, I would distinguish my reading in two points. The first concerns the status of faith. This letter is part of an unpublished correspondence. What does it mean to associate Christianity, because faith stands here as a synonym for Christianity, with thinking? Does the philosopher accidentally pronounce a theological idea here? Does the proposition contain a programmatic statement?
Shall we take it as a provocation, indicating that faith does not think enough? Or, shall we understand it as a challenge to think about faith more, or other than we usually do? I will return to this issue later. However, this should not be taken as a resolute statement about the plausibility or implausibility of faith in transcendence. On the other hand, and much more importantly, it is an argument about the point of departure for any reflection on Christianity after Christendom.
What does this mean? He thereby challenges us to start thinking from below, that is, from a default position of the Godless world as it is mirrored in our general experience of finitude. The Christian care for the soul, in its coming after Christendom, manifests itself as a school of thinking. Perhaps even more strongly, it is revealed to us as the vocation to think. The important question is: thinking what? I propose the following answer: Christianity after the end of Christendom is thinking finitude, 33 33 Concerning the idea of finitude, I draw inspiration from Emmanuel Falque, The Metamorphosis of Finitude: An Essay on Birth and Resurrection.
The task of Christianity after its end is to contemplate the world from the perspective of the human per se. First and foremost, the world no longer appears as an obstacle, and human experience is by no means a drop or contamination in the metaphysical structure of religion. On the contrary, the world and human experience are conditions for the possibility of discovering the meaning and understanding of Being.
This is the task of Christianity after Christendom, this is the call to think which cannot be terminated but rather reinvigorated again and again. This means that Christianity cannot avoid but rather incorporates the experience of finitude, which is universally shared by every human being. Rather, the point in the making radicalizes the Easter mystery of Christianity. In other words, for Christians, the way leading towards the understanding Being does not suggest an escape to the suprasensible, metaphysical, and transcendental world which would be a rightful criticism by Nietzsche.
Paradoxically, the result of this is not despair. On the contrary, there is hope which consists in facing finitude while exploring the way of life and striving for its meaning. The crucifixion shows that there are no easy solutions, no exit from human finitude.
The story of Jesus of Nazareth manifests the pressing character and tough engagement with the nihil. Christianity does not deviate from the hardness of being.
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It goes to the crux of it. Nevertheless, precisely in this openness to such experiences, Christianity bears witness to the transformation of finitude. Once again, this is not a plea for all to make a sudden escape to the shelter of eschatological faith. The dynamic introduced by Christianity is the following: God gives himself ultimately and irreversibly and, in turn, the human being experiences its own singularity and irreplaceability and, at the same time, faces the call of responsibility of becoming a person.
This totally transforms the default experience of human finitude. Love is not given as a thing or an emotion. It transcends the ethical and moral meaning as well.
As the theological vocabulary of transubstantiation indicates, the issue under consideration is ontological. Love is the manifestation and realization of what is earlier mentioned as the ontological difference. In other words, love is giving oneself away, but this giving does not appear as giving something for something else , but as the appearing of Being itself.
Now the meaning of Christianity after Christendom qua caring for the soul is clearer. From the perspective of human finitude, human life has been already decided.
It will end at some point. This is an irreversible experience. Paradoxically, this theological insight turns back on the philosophical reflection. Christianity after Christendom challenges philosophy as the other of reason, albeit never ceasing to be a rational insight exploring the human experience per se. How should one imagine this? One possibility is to refer to a particular biblical example. As, for instance, the disciples on the way to Emmaus did not have an answer beforehand but one was disclosed to them only after , so the spiritual life proclaimed by Christianity after Christendom awaits its transformation on its way towards finitude.
There is no a priori transformation to be accepted, but openness to the possibility of a transformation to come. In one sentence, what I suggest calling Christianity after Christendom is a mode of being, particularly a human mode of being in the openness of love. The mutual crossing of the theological and the philosophical in the concept of Christianity after Christendom is, in my opinion, best captured in the call of thinking, that is, the task or vocation of thinking. The next question is: Thinking what? The philosophical answer is: Thinking finitude and its transformation.
The theological answer is: Thinking transcendence as transformation. In other words, the task of thinking is not about searching for the completion of the unthought, a complete knowledge. The task to which every human being is called, and thus the task communicated by Christianity in its universal claim, is thinking Being. A process in which there is no ultimate, absolute end to reach, but where the goal would be reached in every moment?
But how to translate this phenomenological possibility into an existential actuality? However, the choice of certain methodological manners could just be another perspective on the common field of the same matter without pronouncing a final judgement.
Silence thus can be taken not as an opposition but an openness, that is, as an open field into which someone who gives preference to theological manners in approaching the matter is invited and perhaps even called to enter. The possibility coming from the field of theology is not condemned. In other words, this Christian insight is interpreted in the Heretical Essays as a conversion from the Platonic merely philosophical conception to a deeper, for the moment, unsurpassed and highest conception of the soul, that is, an understanding of Being; this Christian contribution cannot be drawn from a sociological reality of the newly emergent religion of Christianity.
The core of the argument lies in the theological fundament, or, to be precise, in the actual plausibility and existential relevance of this theological claim concerning the impossible possibility. I prefer an alternative. In this sense, Christianity is neither a religion among other religions nor a philosophical program. The after of Christianity is a certain mode of being, that is, the programmatic sense for a movement of transcendence. Rather, it is a scandalous heretical claim.
One could even read this as a complete resignation on dealing with Christianity as a revealed religion and the question of belief and confession. Yet, as the speedy condemnation of ways and opinions differing from the mainstream does not prove itself in history, because it has often caused more violence and evil than good, we should ponder on this particular heresy and think of it.
Christianity brings into this a radical conversion because it offers a transformation in experiencing finitude. At the same time, Christianity does respect finitude; it incorporates it and takes it very seriously. The events of the incarnation, the crucifixion and the resurrection show this clearly. The responsible life of caring for the soul is therefore not a human fight for meaning despite finitude, but rather because of an understanding of finitude as a transforming experience. It is Christianity that introduces this transformation of experience. What is heretical about this?
A response might read: Perhaps nothing. This question could rightly be raised.
Christianity after Christendom is the reconsideration of this task of thinking, namely thinking about the universally accessible experience of finitude, and thus being as such. This all builds on the essence of Christianity after Christendom, however, that is, its structural programmatic vision of a striving for meaning and the overcoming of the nihil of finitude. This is much more than a repetition of Christianity after Christendom, regardless of its narrative thickness. In fact, the proposed project is drawn from the manifestation of Christianity and its core, that is, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God becoming man, and thus transforming our being human.
The task of thinking that is at the center of Christianity after Christendom is nothing but thinking and understanding being. The full text of this article hosted at iucr. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username.
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