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Full Access Postmodern Epistemology and the Mission of the Church

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Postmodern Epistemology and the Mission of the Church

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A Christian missionary has traditionally been understood as one who stands for and represents truth. Is this a claim that can be defended within the context of postmodern epistemology? According to Derrida, there is an irreducible difference between sign and signified; all historical religions are therefore limited to the realm of the contingent and the deconstructible. Caputo develops this idea further in his understanding of the endlessly translatable trace of the event. One may argue, however, that this understanding of endless translatability reveals a dependence on a traditional concept of reason that ultimately replaces religious authority with the authority of the interpreter. Arguing that a phenomenology of givenness is the relevant strategy against this kind of idolatry, Marion maintains that one has to work from the possibility of revelation as always overflowing its conceptual representation. In a Christian context, this is done through the retelling of the biblical story, particularly as it is celebrated in the liturgy of the Eucharist. The criticism of the idea of a conceptual representation of truth therefore does not imply that truth is not manifest in the work and mission of the Christian church.

Affiliations: 1: School of Mission and Theology Stavanger Norway, Email: knut.alfsvaag@mhs.no

10.1163/016897811X572186
/content/journals/10.1163/016897811x572186
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A Christian missionary has traditionally been understood as one who stands for and represents truth. Is this a claim that can be defended within the context of postmodern epistemology? According to Derrida, there is an irreducible difference between sign and signified; all historical religions are therefore limited to the realm of the contingent and the deconstructible. Caputo develops this idea further in his understanding of the endlessly translatable trace of the event. One may argue, however, that this understanding of endless translatability reveals a dependence on a traditional concept of reason that ultimately replaces religious authority with the authority of the interpreter. Arguing that a phenomenology of givenness is the relevant strategy against this kind of idolatry, Marion maintains that one has to work from the possibility of revelation as always overflowing its conceptual representation. In a Christian context, this is done through the retelling of the biblical story, particularly as it is celebrated in the liturgy of the Eucharist. The criticism of the idea of a conceptual representation of truth therefore does not imply that truth is not manifest in the work and mission of the Christian church.

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/content/journals/10.1163/016897811x572186
2011-01-01
2016-12-03

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