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Reviewed by:
  • Christianity and Secular Reason ed. by Jeffrey Bloechl
  • Mihaela L. Florescu
Christianity and Secular Reason, ed. Jeffrey Bloechl (University of Notre Dame Press 2012) 288 pp.

Jeffrey Bloechl, a prolific writer in the field of philosophy of religion, has compiled an assemblage of essays addressing the intersection of secularism and theology as part of a series entitled Thresholds in Philosophy and Theology with Kevin Hart as co-editor of the series. The volume consists of nine essays, many of which were originally presented as outlines for a seminar organized by the Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture at the College of the Holy Cross. The present volume begins with Adriaan T. Peperzak’s essay “How Rational Is the Heart? How Natural Is Reason? How Universal is Faith?”. Peperzak’s essay sets the tone for the rest to follow by examining the premises and direction of modern reason in the tradition of Plato, Augustine, and Bonaventura. By critiquing modern reason, Peperzak opens up the door to other elements, such as the role of emotion and the heart, the role of discipleship, and the role of communication, affection, and a return to faith.

Peter J. Casarella’s “Naturae Desiderium: The Desire of Nature between History and Theology” explores medieval Christian thought and the idea of nature and soul in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries by analyzing a new approach to medieval philosophy represented by the work of Steven P. Marrone and Andreas Speer. Casarella further examines John Milbank’s work “The Suspended Middle: Henri de Lubac and the Debate Concerning the Supernatural” with a focus on St. Thomas Aquinas and the Italian Renaissance. Casarella wraps his survey with his own insightful conclusion on the nature of religion and secular reason.

Kevin Corrigan’s “Athens, Jerusalem, and …: Overcoming the Exclusivist Paradigms of the Past” explores the relationship between the tools of classical Athens embodied by drama, poetry, and philosophy and the tools of religious Jerusalem in the forms of prophecy and faith. Corrigan dwells on Tertullian’s famous question of “what does Jerusalem have to do with Athens?”, promoting the idea that the unfortunate split between these two approaches does not provide a complete view. One sphere cannot be substituted for another and neither can exist in a vacuum. Corrigan advocates a breakdown of the boundaries between the two spheres and an opening to both academic and non-academic approaches.

In “Kant: Boundaries, Blind Spots, and Supplements,” Cyril O’Regan examines the legacy of Kant from pure reason to practical reason to judgment to a reading including a supplement of Christianity. O’Regan wraps his essay in an analysis of Derrida’s thoughts, considering religion within the bounds of reason alone as a colonizing monster that reaches all over the world through modern communication and technology and that causes cultural losses for non-European cultures. Jean-Yves Lacoste’s thesis in “On Knowing God through Loving Him: Beyond ‘Faith and Reason’” is based on Kierkegaard’s idea in Philosophical Fragments that knowing God means responding to love and secularity is the absence of this response to love. Lacoste ponders the dialectic between theology as a rational articulation of God as love, and philosophy as involving analysis of the phenomenality of freedom, hope, and faith. Further expanding on the subject of phenomenality, Kevin Hart’s “Phenomenality and Christianity” surveys Christianity as phenomenology through the works of Michel Henry [End Page 243] and the more conventional phenomenological studies of Levinas and Marion. Hart examines three different premises: there cannot be a phenomenology of Christianity, there can be a phenomenology of Christianity, and Christianity is already a phenomenology.

Anthony J. Kelly explains the difficulties of secular logic with the event of the resurrection in his “Making the Resurrection Reasonable—or Reason ‘Resurrectional?’” Kelly looks at the resurrectional event through the phenomenological approach of Henry, Levinas, and Marion, using a similar approach as Kevin Hart in the previous essay. Kelly analyzes several aspects of theological phenomenology by looking at the resurrection as revelation, the resurrection as event, the resurrection as aesthetic form, the resurrection as “flesh,” and the resurrection and the Face of Christ; he follows this analysis with a short discussion of phenomenon as...


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pp. 243-244
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