Liberal pluralism, radical orthodoxy and the right tone of voice

Sophia 45 (2):81-97 (2006)
This paper considers two differenttones of voice in philosophy and theology (‘liberal pluralism’ in contrast to ‘radical orthodoxy’) and relates it to a discussion about the theology of religions. ‘Tone of voice’ in this context is intended to denote the affective potency (or not) of a theological perspective as it impacts and influences religious attitudes. In addition, at a related level, ‘tone of voice’ is used when speaking of first-order or second-order perspectives: for example, a first-orderconfessional tone in contrast to a second-ordernotional tone. The paper proceeds to critically engage with John Hick’s pluralism and John Milbank’s Radical Orthodoxy particularly from the point of view of considering thetone adopted by both perspectives. The conclusion is that both views are inadequate: Hick’s pluralism—as a second-order meta-theory—lacks the first-order power that is needed to affect ‘hearts and minds’, Milbank’s Radical Orthodoxy has rhetorical power but is an ‘unfounded’ narrative which lacks the ability to rationally engage with thereal world. In the end, the suggestion is that the ‘right tone of voice’, in a religious context, ought to combine a realistic enquiry concerning the order-of-things with a first-order rhetorical strength.
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DOI 10.1007/BF02782482
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