A postmodern paraphrase of Philippians 2:5-11

The Incarnation is the mad story of the undeconstructible God who did not consider undeconstructibility as something to be grasped, nor did he despise deconstructibility, but rather taking the “human, all too human form” of a servant, he humbled himself to the point of inhabiting the very deconstructible structures of human law and culture—even to the point of suffering death at the hands of these institutions. But he did so not with a view to eviscerating the deconstructible, but rather to rightly ordering it such that the contingent, particularity of this deconstructible creation might reach its proper telos. — James K.A. Smith, What Jesus Did: The Incarnation as a More Radical Hermeneutic


One Response

  1. Jason, you posted this but I wasn’t sure if you are just having fun or finding insight in these words.

    Having read Smith’s article, I’m still trying to get my head around his notion that believing a “church (or any other community) is at best a collection of consenting adults” is a bad idea.

    Smith says his claim will sound counter-intuitive, and it does. Precisely because he criticizes the deconstruction of the church vs undecontructiveness of the kingdom as setting up a false dichotomy and then proceeds to argue the results of that false dichotomy with his own false dichotomy of liberal/conservative. His is a false dichotomy because the hypocrisy and self-righteousness he criticizes aren’t due to political ideologies.

    He criticizes modern liberalism for its emphasis on self-interested “whims” toward community and thinks Jesus expects a “fundamentally communitarian and anti-liberal conception of persons and community”, yet this focus on duty over love was already there in the Jewish community, so what was Jesus coming to change if not simply the motivations?

    I completely agree with Smith’s disgust at liberal hypocrisy. Still, it doesn’t take a “do-gooder” to do his duty and go home to his comfort with self-congratulations. It just takes someone doing his duty for the wrong reasons.

    Smith’s article rallies for church as authority and interpreter for the very reason that Jesus became a deconstructible being. In other words, Smith believes the Incarnation means he came not to free us from human sovereignty but only to “rightly” order every contingent thing so it “might reach its proper telos”.

    Such words make me shudder because, of course, you have the question about who evaluates “rightly” and who determines the proper “telos”.

    As someone still new to the concept of Christian anarchy (although I’ve read a great deal of thinkers like Kierkegaard and Tolstoy), I wonder if you would believe in seeking an inner authority as a guide to external community rather than the other way around? Is that not the essence of the anarchy, and is it not then a lot like mysticism?

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