Christian Apologetics Week Book Review #6: The Monstrosity of Christ by Zizek and Millbank

Slavoj Zizek and John Millbank, ed. Creston Davis. The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic? Mit Press: 2009. 416 pgs. 

In The Monstrosity of Christ Millbank attempts to do what Hart does not, as per my last book review.  He attempts to dialogue with a serious atheist of our age: Slavoj Zizek.  The two of them are billed, by the editor, as having an intellectual encounter the equivalent of "ultimate fighting" as they seek to grapple with the very definition of Christianity.  Zizek is a renowned philosopher, militant marxist, dialectic materialist, and atheist.  Millbank is a neo-orthodox and leading anglo-catholic theologian.  

In part 1, Zizek presents his reading of Christianity, which seemed to be incredibly weak.  He apparently has used very limited sources to draw some unique, but in my opinion erroneous, conclusions about Christianity, Jesus, and Paul.  

In Part 2, Millbank takes on this interpretation and counters with one of his own.  He criticizes lutheranism, explores Meister Eckhart and Hegel, and seeks to defend a 'theological materialism' based on the incarnation.  This chapter is all too brief to contain all that Millbank tries to stuff into it. 

In Part 3, Zizek basically says to Millbank "I'm an atheist, don't believe in God the Father, and therefore all that you said is pointless."  Apparently this was some kind of revelation on Zizek's part, as he has been rather ambiguous about such things in the past.  

Overall, the two participants in this debate did not seem to actually meet.  The terms of the debate are not well defined, the aims are completely foggy, and in the end all that may have been accomplished was some minor clarifications of each persons viewpoints.  On top of that, neither Zizek nor Millbank are easy reads, writing at a level much more suited to PhD students and Professors than anyone else.  Personally, I would have liked to have had a 2nd chapter from Millbank; either that, or for him to fill out this idea of 'theological materialism' 

Conclusion: 2 of 5 stars.  Not Recommended (I had to include one of these in CAW :).  In the end, there is no good reason to read this book.  It does not accomplish much, and you can much more from and about each of these authors by reading their other books.  

This post is part of Christian Apologetics Week.  You can find the introduction, with links to all the posts, here

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