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Radical Orthodoxy is a postmodern Christian theological movement founded by John Milbank and others, that takes its name from the title of a collection of essays published by Routledge in 1999: Radical Orthodoxy, A New Theology, edited by John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock and Graham Ward. Radical Orthodoxy includes theologians from a number of church traditions.



Radical Orthodoxy's beginnings are found in a series of books edited by John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock and Graham Ward. Milbank's Theology and Social Theory (1990), while not part of this series, is considered the first significant text of the movement. The name 'radical orthodoxy' was chosen initially since it was a more snappy title for the book series - initially Milbank considered the movement to be 'postmodern critical Augustinianism', emphasising the use of a reading of St Augustine coloured by the insights of postmodernism in the work of the group. The name 'radical orthodoxy' was chosen in opposition to certain strands of so-called radical theology, for example those of Bishop John Shelby Spong. Such forms of radical theology asserted a highly liberal version of Christian faith where certain doctrines, for example, the incarnation of God in Christ and the Trinity were denied in an attempt to respond to modernity. In contrast to this, radical orthodoxy attempted to show how, in fact, the orthodox interpretation of Christian faith (as given primarily in the ecumenical creeds) was in fact the more radical response to contemporary issues, both rigorous and intellectually sustainable.

Main ideas

Radical Orthodoxy is a critique of modern secularism, and Kantian accounts of metaphysics. The name "Radical Orthodoxy" emphasises the movement's attempt to return to or revive traditional doctrine. "Radical" (lat. radix, "root"), "Orthodoxy" (gr. oρθός orthós "correct", and δόξα dóxa "teaching", [God-]"honoring", therefore, "correct faith"). The movement brings politics, ethics, culture, art, science, and philosophy in discussion with the sources of Christian theology. Its ontology has some similarities to the Neoplatonist account of participation.


Henri de Lubac's theological work on the distinction of nature and grace has been influential in the movement's articulation of ontology. Hans Urs von Balthasar's theological aesthetics and literary criticism are also influential. The strong critique of liberalism found in much of Radical Orthodoxy has its origin in the work of Karl Barth. The Oxford Movement and the Cambridge Platonists are also key influences of Radical Orthodoxy.

A form of Neoplatonism plays a significant role in Radical Orthodoxy. Syrian Iamblichus of Chalcis (c. 245–325) and the Byzantine Proclus (412–485) are occasionally sourced, while the theology of Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Nicholas of Cusa and Meister Eckhart is often drawn upon.

One of the key tasks of Radical Orthodoxy is to revisit the philosophy of Duns Scotus. Scotus' rejection of analogy is often presented as the precursor of modernity.

It has now aligned itself with the right-wing conservative "Red Tory" movement in the UK.

Key texts

  • Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology, John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock, Graham Ward (eds). London: Routledge, 1999 - (ISBN 0-415-19699-X)
  • Theology and Social Theory (2nd ed.), John Milbank. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006 - (ISBN 1-4051-3684-7)
  • Being Reconciled, John Milbank. London: Routledge, 2003 - (ISBN 0-415-30525-X)
  • Post-Secular Philosophy Phillip Blond. London: Routledge 1997 - ( ISBN 978-0415097789)
  • Truth in Aquinas, John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock. London: Routledge, 2000 - (ISBN 0-415-23335-6)
  • After Writing, Catherine Pickstock. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997 - (ISBN 0-631-20672-8)
  • The Word Made Strange, John Milbank. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997 - (ISBN 0-631-20336-2)
  • Radical Orthodoxy: A Critical Introduction, Steven Shakespeare. London: SPCK, 2007 - (ISBN 978-0-281-05837-2)


  • Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology, John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock, Graham Ward (eds). London: Routledge, 1999 - (ISBN 0-415-19699-X)
  • Truth in Aquinas, John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock. London: Routledge, 2000 - (ISBN 0-415-23335-6)
  • Divine Economy: Theology and the Market, D. Stephen Long. London: Routledge, 2000 - (ISBN 0-415-22673-2)
  • Cities of God, Graham Ward. London: Routledge, 2000 - (ISBN 0-415-20256-6)
  • Liberation Theology After the End of History: The Refusal to Cease Suffering, Daniel M. Bell. London: Routledge, 2001 - (ISBN 0-415-24304-1)
  • Genealogy of Nihilism: Philosophies of Nothing & the Difference of Theology, Conor Cunningham. London: Routledge, 2002 - (ISBN 0-415-27694-2)
  • Speech and Theology: Language and the Logic of Incarnation, James K. A. Smith. London: Routledge, 2002 - (ISBN 0-415-27696-9)
  • Augustine and Modernity, Michael Hanby. London: Routledge, 2003 - (ISBN 0-415-28469-4)
  • Being Reconciled: Ontology and Pardon, John Milbank. London: Routledge, 2003 - (ISBN 0-415-30525-X)
  • Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II, Tracey Rowland. London: Routledge, 2003 - (ISBN 0-415-30527-6)
  • Truth in the Making: Knowledge and Creation in Modern Philosophy and Theology, Robert Miner. London: Routledge, 2003 - (ISBN 0-415-27698-5)
  • Philosophy, God and Motion, Simon Oliver. London: Routledge, 2005 - (ISBN 0-415-36045-5)
  • The Possibility of Christian Philosophy: Maurice Blondel at the Intersection of Theology and Philosophy, Adam C. English. London: Routledge, 2007 - (ISBN 0-415-77041-6)
  • The Radical Orthodoxy Reader, John Milbank, Simon Oliver (eds). London: Routledge, 2009 - (ISBN 0-415-42513-1)

See also

External links




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