Item description for Interpreting God and the Postmodern Self: On Meaning, Manipulation, and Promise by Anthony C. Thiselton...
Professor Thiselton compares and assesses modern and postmodern interpretations of the self and society on their own terms and in relation to Christian theology. He explores especially claims that appeals to truth constitute no more than disguised bids for power and self-affirmation whether in society or in religion.
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Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.45" Width: 5.39" Height: 0.62" Weight: 0.52 lbs.
Release Date Jul 1, 2000
Publisher Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN 0802841287 ISBN13 9780802841285
Availability 96 units. Availability accurate as of Oct 20, 2016 08:39.
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More About Anthony C. Thiselton
Anthony C. Thiselton (Ph.D., University of Sheffield) is research professor in Christian theology at University College Chester and emeritus professor of Christian theology at the University of Nottingham. He is the author of seven books, including the NIGTC commentary on 1 Corinthians, "The Two Horizons, "and "New Horizons in Hermeneutics."
Anthony C. Thiselton has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Nottingham, UK.
Anthony C. Thiselton has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Interpreting God and the Postmodern Self: On Meaning, Manipulation and Prmise?
Insightful and challenging account of the postmodern self. Jul 26, 1999
I really like this book. It is very clear, though Thiseleton is constantly referencing philosophers from all throughout history. I am American enough to find myself pining for the bottom line, but I know reading references is good for me because I am getting a lesson in philosophy and history at the same time! The sheer volume of citations in these first two parts testifies to the experience and the patience of Thistleton as a philosopher.
In the first part, he examines the Nietzscheian idea that truth is nothing other than a metaphor that we have forgotten is a metaphor and keep around only in so far as it serves an individual's will to power. He points out that the postmodern fear of manipulation can actually be healthy for the Christian Church, because it will help us to unite against the "Christian Leaders" who are, in fact, merely manipulating people. He also points out that the whole Nietzscheian slave morality thing really just doesn't apply to true Christianity. He gives examples from Bonhoffer and Luther, testifying to the fact that Christianity is not a system of beliefs that calls for its people to remain passive while the Truth is being slandered. And as for manipulation, the New Testament is clear about the fact that false apostles will try to distort the Truth to suit their agenda, but we are not to give them any credit (2 Corinthians and Galatians).
In chapter 5 Thistleton has a lot to say about Wittgenstein and language that is incredibly important. One of the major conclusions of part one is that Truth is usually best interpreted relationally. This is the idea that leads us into part two. In part two, we get a lesson in hermeneutics. This section seems exceedingly long, but that is just because Thistleton is so patient to give credit to all the different thinkers who have contributed to the discussion and all that. What we end up with, however, is fairly simple. It is basically just the exact opposite of Derrida's deconstructionism. In chapter 10, Thiselton gives us 5 interesting theses. 1) We can always tell something about the author when we study a text. 2) The Scriptures speak to our true selves. 3) All texts speak to readers as thinking selves. 4) Different interpretations tell about differences in readers. And 5) The Bible was written to transform our lives, and if we are to understand what it says, we must keep that in mind.
The third part is basically just a refutation of Cupitt's "Sea of Faith Network" stuff. It seems that Cupitt was some sort of religious atheist who got a good deal of press over in Great Britain. Based on what Thiselton had to say about the movement, I really don't even see why Cupitt's ideas were worth the time it took to refute, but I guess because Cupitt wrote more than a book a year for about ten years and had a large following, Thiselton was worried that his ideas may spread.
Part 4 is more constructive, I think, but less clear. It is obvious that Thiselton is a very clear thinker, but he is so faithful in giving credit for borrowed ideas that it is often confusing as to whether Thiselton is presenting someone else's views to refute them (like he did with Cupitt's ideas) or to incorporate their ideas into his thesis. This anal name-dropping really takes a lot away from the readability of this final section, but I think that the basic thesis is clear.
Thiselton starts off by pointing out the fact that it is our duty to translate the Gospel into contemporary language games without compromising the message. He points out that in Nietzsche's day, Christianity was just getting into the whole dualism thing (which was already almost dead in philosophical circles). Christianity was so hung up in antiquated philosophy that Nietzsche and Heidegger dismissed the whole religion as "Platonism for the People" (by the way, this makes me suspect that Nietzsche and Heidegger got their understanding of Christianity entirely through Ron Nash's books).
The point for us today is that Dualism is out, and has been out for a while. Physicalism is in now. We need to give up all this mind/body dualism junk and do our best to translate the Gospel into physicalist terminology. We don't have to agree with all the basic beliefs of Physicalism, but we should never have agreed with the basic beliefs of dualism either! We don't need to let our message get distorted by the secular philosophers, but we need to talk their language so that they can at least understand us! The final chapters of this book are an attempt to show the postmodern subject that what they need is Christianity. Whereas the defining characteristics of postmodernism are cynicism and despair, Christianity offers hope and promise. The Christian can be realistic about how bad the existential situation is because they have hope in a sovereign God, and His promise to work everything out for his good purposes. There is no longer any need to resort to superficial optimism, as the modern subject did, but there is also no need for self-destructive pessimism. Christianity offers the opportunity for honest realism and hope at the same time, and that is what we all need to hear. As Tim Keller likes to say it, "You are worse off than you ever dared to imagine, but God loves you more than you ever dared to hope." That is the radical message of the gospel. We need to tell the world to forget about all that dualistic, superficial, "I don't care if it rains or freezes, 'long as I got my plastic Jesus," nonsense that has been aptly labeled the opiate of the people. What we all need is the radical grace of the Gospel that lets us be real and lets us be optimistic, even as we learn the lessons that postmodernism has to teach us.