File spoon-archives/heidegger.archive/heidegger_2001/heidegger.0105, message 29

Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 19:32:26 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: phenomenology of religion

Henk and Allen,

I'm basically in agreement with Heidegger in his
phenomenological description of Christian life.  This
might be trivially obvious since I'm a theologian who
makes use of Heidegger theologically, but it seems
worth mentioning to establish context.  I work
primarily in Biblical hermeneutics (and am preparing
for the Anglican priesthood), but I have become more
generally interested in phenomenology and
philosophical hermeneutics in recent years.  I'll be
perusing GA60 when it becomes available to me.  In the
meantime, I wonder whether Heidegger much spells out
an account of the nature of doctrine in this work, or
whether he leaves this for the most part in hints and
suggestive utterances.  

For instance, Henk expounds Heidegger thus:

>In GA60:116:125 Heidegger describes how Paul's
>letters are no longer about a doctrine (hae basileia
>tou theou - Luc. 16:16) but about a way of life 
>(Rom 1:3; 10:9).

Leaving aside Heidegger's questionable exegesis (that
is, first century Jews did not tend to consider Torah
[ho nomos kai hoi prophetai -- "the law and the
prophets"] to be a matter of doctrine, but precisely
the manner in which life might authentically be lived;
Heidegger is simply not doing adequate Biblical
exegesis here), one has to wonder just how restricted
a role he is leaving doctrine.  Is he dismissing it
outright, as one might well imagine?  (As Allen seems
to imagine?)  Or is he leaving it a real but
subordinate role within a religious form of life which
has non-objectifying presence before God as its
overall teleology?  In which case, traditional
doctrine might be preserved intact and carry a certain
normativity, but as an instrumental means for
cultivating the form of life in question (something
like the position in George Lindbeck's _The Nature of
Doctrine_ which revolutionized theology a couple of
years back; also closer to Jesus' and Paul's attitudes
towards the law and the prophets as these are
represented in the canonical NT.  That is,
Christianity is not about keeping the law and the
prophets, but it inevitably keeps them -- Heidegger's
NT citation continues "it is easier for heaven and
earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter in
the law to be dropped" and hardly endorses an
antinomian or anti-doctrinal spirit).  

And, regardless of what Heidegger might say on this
matter, what do you think about it, Allen and Henk? 
Of what value (if any) is doctrine to the cultivation
of a religious way of life?  If it is valuable, what
makes it so?  I waffle, but I think I'll bank on
Lindbeck when all is said and done.  If Allen were to
bank on Mordecai Kaplan, would it be the same thing as
to bank on Lindbeck?  (and as to bank on Heidegger)?

Paul of St. John's Towne (Johnston),
Not an Apostle of Christ Jesus.

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