Realist Christian Theology in a Postmodern Age [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 54 (3):675-675 (2001)
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Abstract

Pattersons work is ultimately an investigation into postmodern hermeneutical theories. She proceeds by applying Wittgensteins distinction between languages ability to describe but never justify matters of empirical fact to theological questions raised by later twentieth century thought. Patterson realizes that as speaking persons we inevitably play language-games, and it is precisely these games which allow us to relate to other persons, both human and divine. In exploring such a line of thought, she clearly sees her own work as the pursuit of a more helpful Wittgenstein, the goal of which is to bring many voices together to construct a way that enables Christianity to hold on to an unwavering realism while simultaneously admitting that all use of human language is inevitably fragmentary and idolatrous. As she rightly asks, For who but God is able to comprehend the whole?. In other words, how can Christianity maintain the absoluteness of the Divine amid the contingency and flux of human experience as manifested in temporal relationships, in language? It is unfortunate that from the start Patterson provides no clear definition of how she will use the term postmodernism, pays no attention to its roots in post-Cartesian thought, and, in limiting her treatment to the linguistic, overlooks elemental critiques against modernity such as, the claim to power and the deification of progress.

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