MBS TEXTE 093 (2008): Why Christianity is an Emancipation Narrative


Why Christianity is an Emancipation Narrative for François Lyotard

Philosopher James K. A. Smith has maintained for years that the ideathat Christianity is a grand narrative is simply a myth spread in Evangelical circles.1 According to the myth, Christianity is a Lyotardian metanarrative. Since a position of scepticism towards metanarratives is representative of postmodern thinking, the Christian faith would correspondingly have to behave antithetically towards Postmodernism.This antagonism, according to Smith, is the result of a superficial reading of Lyotard. A careful review of Lyotard’s writings on metanarratives can demythologise this ‘bumpersticker’ reading and demonstrates that Lyotard’s criticism of grand narratives does not apply to Christianity. On the contrary, Christians “should find in Lyotard not an enemy but an ally orthodox Christian faith actually requires that we, too, stop believing in metanarratives” (WAP, p. 64).