Montaigne and Christian Secularity: An Alternative to Radical Orthodoxy

Benjamin James Wood

Abstract


The meaning and character of the secular state has been a major area of concern within Public Theology. Divided between minimalist and comprehensive readings, secular commitments to neutrality and pluralism have been attributed to pragmatism and dogmatic ideology. In an effort to challenge both these positions, this article develops a positive theological account of secularity through a close critique of Radical Orthodoxy. While acknowledging the comprehensive nature of secularism as proposed by John Milbank and Graham Ward, I suggest that such comprehensiveness is in no way antagonistic to the Christian faith. Engaging constructively with the Sceptical theology of the French essayist Michel de Montaigne [1533-1592] I illustrate the existence of an obscured form of Christian secularity, rooted in the dynamics of the Augustinian tradition. Contrasting the nihilistic and irreligious vision condemned by Radical Orthodoxy, I suggest ways in which Montaignian secularity serves to underwrite a radical model of Christian discipleship.

Key Words: Montaigne, Milbank, Radical Orthodoxy, Secularity


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