When Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz was at the apex of its initial popularity, I was starting as an undergrad in Oregon at Multnomah Bible College (now Multnomah University).1 Miller’s book swelled like music on our campus and others like ours. Many of us carried a secret fear that the joke all Bible and Seminary students hear—if you want to keep your faith, you shouldn’t go to Seminary—would turn out an ominous truth, and Miller’s genuine words of struggle and triumph met these fears head-on. His words sank into us, as if our flesh and bone were the white pages themselves. My Multnomah classmates and I were particularly disposed to liking Miller’s books, laced as they were with the hum and rhythm of our beloved hometown; they fed our subconscious Christian hipster sensibility that being a Portlander was already halfway to being saved. Yet the passion that Miller’s work evokes seems to lead readers to either completely accept or bemoan Miller’s influential works, and as such, engagements with Miller’s seminal books that are both critical andappreciative remain curiously rare. In its own small way, I hope this essay fills this gap.

In the interest of producing a critically appreciative response to Miller’s thoughts and ideas, I aim to correct the picture of faith and theology that one can discern in his work. I also aim to begin elaborating and clarifying a common series of questions posed in Miller’s work, to address such questions as what exactly is theology good for, what is its motivation and genesis, and why do many of us devote so much time to what appears by many accounts—even among Christians—to be that supremely odd profession of the theologian? In effect, much like the criticism that James K. A. Smith levels at the emergent church in general,2 I would like to shift to the emergent church’s voice par excellence and say that although Miller often identifies troubles, his solutions tend to pivot around the very definitions he finds troublesome, thereby making many of these problems latent in the very solutions he attempts. Though Miller left on a journey of a million miles in a thousand years to find something new—a Christianity for the postmodern church—the further he traveled, the more home he was, as Miller’s journey uses a roadmap of thoroughly modernist binaries that he, unfortunately, does not deconstruct. In saying this, I do not mean to defend an abstract something called “the postmodern”; what I desire is to remove Miller’s best insights from counterintuitive (and what I take to be modernist) frameworks that ultimately create discord in his reflections, and in so doing, allow those best insights to reach what I take to be their natural conclusions.

There and Back Again: Miller and the Not-So-Postmodern

Critiques of that anguished creature Modernity have, of course, reached such a magnitude as to constitute something of a cottage industry. “Who even defends it [modernity]?” asks D. Stephen Long.3 Voices of protest have risen, like Abel’s blood from the dust, and have cried out against modernism in a key given the name postmodern,4 and these voices have found what appears to be a denouement in our late capitalist society.5 Yet as David Bentley Hart suggests, given “the plasticity (if not frequent vacuity) of the term postmodern and its innumerable employments, any attempt to isolate it within some precise unity of reference is certainly hopeless.” Thus, the words rising from the dust are themselves so innumerable they may remind someone not so much of a chorus but of Gregory of Nyssa’s description of the controversies of the fourth century, a “battle at night” where “those involved struck out at others without always fully comprehending with whom they were feuding.”6 Part of the problem is a lack of clarity regarding what sort of thing modernity itself was (or is)7 and thus a lack of clarity regarding what exactly postmodernism is supposed to be in relation to modernity.

The most immediate and encompassing trait of this ambiguity, from which various other weaknesses stem, is a tendency, particularly in the works of Miller, to allow terms and concepts to stand as we have inherited them. If Miller doesn’t like how certain terms or concepts operate, he simply shifts within the given options instead of allowing his best intuitions to start changing the topography of the definitions themselves. For example, Miller is rightly dissatisfied with the way his fundamentalist heritage treats theology as merely a set of “mathematical axioms” to be believed.8 “My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect,” he writes, “I don’t really do that anymore [. . .] the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now its just about who is smarter, and, honestly, I don’t care.”9 In context, Miller’s remark is about his frustration with those who conjure arguments for or against God’s existence—a laudable frustration, to be sure. But with a sort of dogmatic wave of the hand, he dismissively equates this task with the intellectual pursuit of theology, much like saying you have grown hopelessly tired of pop music and so you have completely given up on all music. InSearching for God Knows What, Miller promisingly moves further toward altering the definition of theology: “What if the motivation behind our theology was relational?” he asks, later saying that theology is “ideas tangled up in a relational dynamic.” Yet still, he fundamentally stays within the same opinion of theology: “The bible is a relational document, and theology is basically the charts and lists we have made out of that document”; we turn a “love story into theology”; and so on.10 One does not have to be particularly skilled at exegesis to note that for Miller theology is related to relationship by fairly unflattering juxtapositions, to say the least.

Instead of asking whether this is a legitimate definition of theology and its proper operation (it is not), Miller accepts the validity of this rationalistic theology and then tries to counter it by shifting his emphasis to the only position this definition leaves as an option, namely a sort of fideism.11 Yet a faith that can be “experienced but not explained” and that often “contradicts the facts of reality as I understand them” stays neatly within the borders of the modern genealogy, which split a supposedly public, universal scientific reason from the supposedly irrational dogmas taken on private faith.12Theology as propositional truth divorced from worship, service, and communion and faith as unexplainable, more or less nontheological experience are corollaries in a common spectrum of options: rather than allowing faith to expand his definition of the real or what counts as rational, Miller’s understanding grants faith and theology little overlap and only superficial interaction. For Miller, faith is always falling outside the bounds of a criteria of theological rationality defined as (and reduced to) a list of facts . But this distance between faith and theology is a fiction: theology is a practice, and practice always projects and is embedded within theology. Thus, mere propositional theology, or theology without action, does not just need a supplement of faith so that two poles are balanced—it must be identified as a bad definition and a malformed theology where the entire spectrum of options must be reevaluated.

Here we come to the main pivot of my argument: in accepting the reduction of theology to mere propositions, Miller forgets that the original context of theology is actually response and clarification of worship and proclamation elicited by revelation and salvation. He ignores that theology is not merely a catalog of things that are true; it is also a lens through which we see the world, and as a lens, it is ubiquitous—every cognition or volitional action (whether by a theist, atheist, or a person self-identifying in some other category) is framed by an act of faith.

Christ, Theology, and Donald Miller’s Politics

When theology is treated as mere propositions, it is easy to dismiss it as a collection of hopelessly esoteric bits or as “virtually self-contained problems”13 and to forget that rather than a purely discursive enterprise, theology was originally seen as tied to worship and spiritual formation. The rationalist “placement” of theology as pure proposition was due to a deeper issue, namely the rationalist intuition that it could know God via a “universal” reason without the mediating aid of Christology.14 Theology after the so-called “Wars of Religion” and through the Enlightenment thus often became a purely rational endeavor, one where each point of doctrine became true in itself and, as such, isolated from the purposes of their original aim, as opposed to one whose purpose was elaborating our union with Christ.

Miller responds to this lack of Christology within reason by embracing mysticism and letting go of our “mathematicizing constructs.” However, aside from a sort of objectless emotional euphoria residing in the “purity” of a negative moment of expulsion of all concepts, there is very little actual content to Miller’s mysticism. “All the wonder of God happens right aboveour arithmetic and formula [i.e., our theology],” he says, and “wonder is that feeling we get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we want God to follow.”15

Miller makes several important points—for example, his emphasis on God’s unknowability has been a key theological theme among all the great theologians,16 and his emphases on the possible idolatry of theology and the emotional components of faith are spot on. Yet Miller is not interested in making careful, linear arguments, and his manner of emphasizing “mysticism,” turning it as he does against all preconceived thought about God, not only puts God under a sort of erasure but is also a performative contradiction. Indeed, if God happens always and everywhere “above our formula,” then how does Miller know this? And how could he ever attributehis mystical experience to God, instead of, say, his own personal excitement and euphoria? There is no experience of God that escapes human modes of knowing (theology), and that which does escape human modes of knowing is, as such, by definition unknowable. Nothingness admits no variation. Ultimately, Miller’s allergy to formula seems to tacitly assume that theology is more or less arbitrary speculation rather than elaboration upon characteristics God has revealed about himself in Christ.

Mystical awareness of God’s transcendence as the Christian God’s transcendence and not just the numinous in general, however, is always already an effect of the revelation of Christ and the theological “grammar” of Incarnation.17 Tacit or non-thematic intuition of the Divine such as Miller suggests is not yet knowledge of God. In spite of his adoption of the termmysticism, then, Miller’s concept has less affinity with the mystical heritage of Christianity than its name suggests; indeed, throughout history, mystical awareness has generally been understood as possible through theology, the liturgical and catechetical habits of the church, and the reading of scripture. So to speak, mysticism was shaped communally even if experienced individually.18 In other words, mystical encounters are not an abandoning of concepts to send our mind and emotions lurching before an uncontrollable sublime, but a tearing of the veil of sin that shrouds our soul and eyes to God’s beauty and fragrance in creation, and thereby affording us an aesthetic awakening in Christ.19 Theology is an expression of the new optics with which we see the world, an order of vision that can “read” the faces and surfaces of existence as signs and icons whose beauty expresses Christ.20 This accords in part to what the postliberal theologian George Lindbeck and others have forcefully argued, namely that there are no “pure” or private experiences that escape linguistic mediation, as the depths of our “interior” are constructed by the increasing internalization of publicly available linguistic means.21 Ironically, in circumventing, or at the very least drastically relaxing, the need for theology-as-communal-mediation to make faith more “personal” (that is, through nontheological access to scripture and nontheological mystical awe of God), Miller’s ideas of theology, faith, and mysticism remain theoretically wed to an individualist schema.

All of this is perhaps quite unsettling to readers whose faith was rekindled by Miller’s rhapsodic vision and who were enlivened by Miller’s sort of ecstasy. Have no fear! I do not intend to sound a call back into the doldrums of mapping God onto a grid. Despite the actions of a few of our fundamentalist brethren (and others), theologians in their best moments are not those who seek to control God, to distill him into neat and tidy data: theologians are, to borrow a phrase from Thomas Mann about writing, those for whom the Christian faith is often especially difficult.22 We who claim to be—with whatever validity—theologians are those who feel with particular heaviness the burden of God’s difficulty. Theology is a task of devoted witness to God’s immensity, exploring how the whole of reality and all it contains must be conceived in relation to God (sub ratione Dei) as he reveals himself in Christ and the Holy Spirit, and thus theology is an inquiry that is intrinsic for understanding what it means to hold that Christian convictions are true to the way things are, and more importantly, what it means to live with this reality. And the engine of our striving, that “the truth, even the truth of the Gospels, is never pure and clear, and rarely simple,”23 should not be seen as an elitist declaration omitting the simple, but as the continuous outworking of the recognition that we are in our striving outpaced by mystery. It is theology that allows us to recognize what exactly is mysterious (say, the Incarnation) and how it exceeds our understanding (it is not normal to be fully God and fully man). We are not dumbfounded by nothing in particular, or everything in general, rather theology begins in wonder at the particular acts of a particular God and attempts to preserve amazement by elaborating which things suggest a specifically Christian befuddlement and what it all could mean. Theology is, to use the ancient phrase, faith seeking understanding. Thus, without wanting to sound badly mannered, Miller has got it exactly backwards—often our most precise theological moments are when we fail to understand God, are humbled, and keep striving forward.

And Miller’s misstep in theory does not go without ripples throughout the rest of his work, particularly in Miller’s rightful emphasis on community and relation. Miller has an incredible focus on missions and the communal nature of the church. He has even set up a nation-wide program that helps mentor fatherless children. But as amazing as all of Miller’s activities and missions are, his subjectivist definition of faith makes it seem all but inevitable that they have a tiny fault line running through them which sounds—despite his protest—individualist and consumerist, and indeed, the organizing principle of Miller’s prescribed vision for the church appears to be a sort of coincidence of preferential choice. In his own spiritual journey, Miller found people like him, and he prescribes others to do the same: “Pray that God will show you a church filled with people who share your interests and values,” he says.24As he often bemoans the separating of congregations over theological differences, one can imagine that for people following Miller’s advice, the requisite declaration in leaving a church would be “Don’t worry, it’s not that I disagree with you doctrinally, it’s just that I don’t really like you.”

Miller of course gives the caveat that we still must love all churches, which is absolutely true, but he describes this love as kind of like the way you admire impressionist painting—from a distance so as to avoid getting caught up in the messiness of its details. This advice both threatens to explode churches that fail to satisfy and also provides no outlet for overcoming social injustice or racism within and outside churches as long as church groups are organized along purely preferential lines. In the words of Paul Metzger, “birds of a socioeconomic feather flock together.”25 Miller’s solution, much like (and in part indebted to) his faith/theology solution, sounds like a salve to past woes but actually ends up reinforcing the very aspects of the problem it attempts to solve: division. Instead of fostering communion throughout the church, it emphasizes a particular form of affinity group communion at the expense of communion with certain levels of diversity. In contrast, I suggest that instead of making the path of least resistance an ecclesiological prescription, our emphasis should perhaps be on a commitment to local communities and churches and their inner transformation.

This individualist, preference-based ecclesiology leads directly into Miller’s understanding of faith and politics, which comprises my last critique. Here is yet another example of Miller moving within the limits and concerns of received definitions rather than calling these definitions into question. “Jesus did not mix his faith with politics,” says Miller in the famous confession-booth scene of Blue Like Jazz, and earlier he writes, “Christian spirituality, is anonpolitical, mysterious system.”26 What becomes clear is that by politicalMiller means the partisan lines of Republicans, the Religious Right, and Democrats. In this sense he is absolutely correct, Christianity is not political in that way—yet his comment in passing, that Jesus did not mix his faith with politics, is based anachronistically on very modern categories which assume a division between private religion and public secular politics.27 In fact, this is a version of the same division between public reason and private faith that we have already seen. This both elides the fact that no such ontological division between religion and the political was yet invented, so that Christ’s proclamation of the coming of God’s kingdom and his own Lordship were rightly perceived as subversive to the Roman government based upon the Caesar cult, and it also too quickly assumes that modern secular politics are not in their own manner religious and theological commitments in opposition to (or at least very different from) the theological and spiritual commitments of the church.

Given what we have seen of Miller’s definitions of faith and theology, it is not surprising that he does not reenvisiontheo-politics or ecclesial politics that stands as a witness against the normative “politics of technique”28 of the secular state. Miller’s definition of faith occludes the idea that Christian revelation and theology do not only produce ideas about God, but also an entirely new grammar to understand nature and created reality, and our relation to it as the people of God.29 And by relegating theology to a relatively minor role, Miller ignores that every manner of existence (political, economic, ecclesial, et cetera) is already the exercise of one or another theological imagination.

Miller exemplifies what has become a common forgetfulness in regards to the theological origins of many concepts we take for granted. For example, he often sounds as if the Bible is simply justifying a concept of relation established elsewhere (relation for Miller, we have to remember, is only tangentially theological). But as Terry Eagleton so wonderfully put it, “It was Christianity [. . .] which invented the concept of everyday life [that is, of relation with one another],”30 or in the words of Hart, it was preciselytheological construction and reflection that “invented the human.”31 Miller thus runs into the “pathos of modern theology,” namely, “its false humility,”32 or what Wolfhart Pannenberg calls—in what is for him an unusually impassioned phrase—“the ghetto of redemptive history.”33 By attempting to claim many of these originally Christian insights as the postulates of a supposedly universal, religiously neutral reason (distinct from private faith), we can very easily forget not only the fecund resources of theology, but also that secularity and American nationalism are themselvesa type of religious confession. The secular state is, so to speak, a parody of Christianity itself, in which we encounter another church and anothertheology not easily reconcilable with Christian witness.34 Many precepts of the modern world are, to use G. K. Chesterton’s phrase, “Christian virtues gone mad”35 because they have been set adrift from the very historically contingent narrative that founded them and gave them sense. Miller’s supposed resignation to the political, and indeed, the theological in general, leaves the theological nature of secularity unnoticed, and thereby he inadvertently perpetuates the already firmly sedimented opinion that Christian theology as such has nothing to say to the “scientific” nature of sociology or politics or that its message can fundamentally piggyback upon those institutions.

Ironically then, between Miller and the Religious Right from which he so desperately wants to distinguish his “apolitical” Christianity, is a differencenot in an apolitical construal of Christianity. For the Religious Right, despite whatever their protests to the contrary, also presumably believe in the inherently apolitical nature of Christianity, which is why they politicize it through the preexisting avenues of American political processes. It remains for the Religious Right that the best way one can be a Christian in public is by being an American voter. Laudably Miller wants to separate himself from the business of politically controlling America with Christian ideology, yet he does so only with a gesture of withdrawal. He does not allow for an elaboration upon the concept that many of the services and communities of love and engagement he is already participating in are themselves providing a redefined concept of our common life together and hence a subversive new form of politics. Thus, in Miller’s work, the church loses its primary ability to, in commitment to the lordship of Christ, be the fundamental questionability of all closed systems through the apocalyptic interruption of Christ.

In bringing Miller’s concept of faith and theology, his still somewhat individualistic notion of the church, and the undeveloped theo-political aspects of his thought to light, I hope to have at least begun to take Miller’s best insights on Christian mission, community, a sense of heartfelt awe before God, and a passionate commitment to the commission of Christ out ofcertain counterintuitive frameworks that Miller has embedded them in. Far from mere propositions, theology can be taken as an imaginative communalconstruction, as a way of viewing of the world in light of what we have received in revelation and believe to be true. To repeat the old phrase, theology is faith seeking understanding, seeking, that is, to understand all of the implications of our salvation in Christ. And just as importantly, I hope to have perhaps recontextualized many of the activities Miller is alreadyparticipating in—missions, community, aid to the poor and the fatherless—as movements not of a Christian faith abstaining from the political, or merely the preference of like-minded individuals, but also as instances of alternative theo-political action analogous to Christ and his declaration and embodiment of the coming kingdom of God. The self-giving love of Christian community, toward each other and especially toward the world, offers a redefinition of constellations of power and lines of community as we understand them. And with this reconfiguration we are all given an opportunity to together be a light to the world (Mt. 5:14).

1. My thanks go to Halden Doerge, who invited me to write this review, and to The Other Journal, who quite kindly furnished me with copies of Donald Miller’s Father Fiction and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I would also like to thank Donald Miller for his books, which continue to be an inspiration to so many people, but also that he found my quaint blog just annoying enough to pay attention to and tweet about. Without the furor which that caused, this essay undoubtedly would never have existed. Also I would deeply like to thank Brian Beckman, Annie Dugas, and Jon Fox, who kindly took the time to read various drafts of this essay, and to Andrew David at The Other Journal whose meticulous editing of my essay and many helpful suggestions I found invaluable.

2. See his various criticisms in Smith, Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Lyotard, Derrida, and Foucault to Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006); The Fall of Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000); andIntroducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-Secular Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004).

3. Long, Speaking of God: Theology, Language, and Truth (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, 2009), 21.

4. A great introduction to the topic that helped me immensely was theCambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology, ed. Kevin Vanhoozer (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

5. William T. Cavanaugh, Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 2008), 67-70.

6. Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, 2003), 35; Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, 2.492 as quoted in Jon Robertson, Christ as Mediator: A Study of the Theologies of Eusebius of Caesarea, Marcellus of Ancyra, and Athanasius of Alexandria (Oxford, UK: Oxford Theological Monographs, 2007), 1.

7. William Placher, The Domestication of Transcendence: How Modern Thinking about God Went Wrong (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), 1.

8. Miller, Blue Like Jazz (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 202-203. George Lindbeck refers to this as the “cognitive-propositional” typology of doctrine in The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Post-Liberal Age (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975), 16.

9. Miller, Blue Like Jazz, 103.

10. Ibid., Searching For God Knows What (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 45, 155, 72, and 181; emphasis mine. Also, see 113, 121, 155, 159, 161, 181, and 199.

11. This is not to throw out the “cognitive-proposition,” dimension as Lindbeck does, merely to resituate it in a larger context. For criticisms of Lindbeck’s appraisal of cognitive-propositionalism see Alister E. McGrath, The Genesis of Doctrine: A Study in the Foundation of Doctrinal Criticism (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, 1990), 14-34; and more recently, Kevin J. Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2005), especially 83-91. For more on fideism and rationalistic theology, see Long, Speaking of God, 24-36.

12. Miller, Blue Like Jazz, 115 and 201. Several texts that have influenced me in regard to this idea of modernism are Amos Funkenstein, Theology and the Scientific Imagination from the Middle Ages to the Seventeenth Century(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986); Michael Buckley, At the Origins of Modern Atheism (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1987); Steven Ozment, The Age of Reform 1250-1550: An Intellectual and Religious History of Late Medieval and Reformation Europe (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1981); Colin Gunton, The One, the Three, and the Many: God, Creation, and the Culture of Modernity (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993); William Cavanaugh, The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009).

13. Anthony Thistelton, Hermeneutics of Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, 2007), 7.

14. For the historical view of theology as worship and spiritual formation, see Jaroslav Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, vol. 1 (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1971); and for a historical perspective on rationalism and Christology, see Stanley Hauerwas, With the Grain of the Universe: The Church’s Witness and Natural Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001).

15. Miller, Blue Like Jazz, 202, 203, and 206.

16. For the examples of Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin, see Placher,Domestication of Transcendence, 21-70.

17. James K. A. Smith, Speech and Theology: The Language and Logic of Incarnation (London, UK: Routledge, 2002), 123.

18. For brief accounts of the mystical tradition and its relation to theology see Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (New York, NY: St. Vladimir Seminary Press, 1976), 8: “The Eastern tradition has never made a sharp distinction between mysticism and theology; between personal experience of the divine mysteries and the dogma affirmed by the church.” C.f. Andrew Louth, The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition: From Plato to Denys (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007) and Lewis Ayres,Nicaea and Its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth-Century Trinitarian Theology(Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2004), 273-343.

19. Hart, Beauty of the Infinite, 298.

20. Smith, The Fall of Interpretation. This is a vital theme of Alister McGrath’s recent trilogy, A Scientific Theology, 3 vols (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 2001-03), e.g., vol. 1 (Nature):241-307; vol. 2 (Reality):55-120, 297ff; and vol.3 (Theory): 20ff, though arguably the whole third volume is specifically relevant.

21. Lindbeck, Nature of Doctrine, 30-45; John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers, 1990), e.g., 384ff; and Wolfhart Pannenberg, Theology and the Philosophy of Science, trans. Francis McDonagh (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976), 177-185; and Smith, The Fall of Interpretation.

22. Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades (New York, NY: Random House Publishing, 1947).

23. Pelikan, Emergence of the Catholic Tradition, 266.

24. Miller, Blue Like Jazz, 138.

25. Metzger, Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, 2007), 40.

26. Miller, Blue Like Jazz, 123 and 115. Italics added.

27. John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, 1994), e.g., 21-59, 134-161, 193-211; c.f. David Toole, Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo: Reflections on Nihilism, Tragedy, and Apocalypse(Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998), especially chapters 7 and 8 (205-267).

28. Yoder, Politics of Jesus, 228-233.

29. Robert Jenson, The Triune God, Systematic Theology, vol. 1 (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1997), 20ff.

30. Eagleton, Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate(New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009), 19; a famous thesis, of course, also of John Zizioulas in Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church (New York, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1985) andCommunion and Otherness: Further Studies in Personhood and the Church(New York, NY: T&T Clark International, 2007).

31. Hart, The Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (New Haven, CT: Yale, 2009), especially 111-215 in a section entitled “The Christian Invention of the Human.”

32. Milbank, Theology and Social Theory, 1.

33. Pannenberg, Basic Questions in Theology, vol.1, trans. George H. Kehm (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1970), 41.

34. William Cavanaugh, The Theopolitical Imagination: Christian Practices of Space and Time (New York, NY: T&T Clark, 2003); Milbank, Theology and Social Theory, 1-256.

35. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (New York, NY: Doubleday, 2001), 26. A very similar judgment is given by Alasdair Macintyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, 2nd ed. (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984), 60.