The Monstrosity of Christ
Paradox or Dialectic?
Slavoj Žižek and John Milbank, Edited by Creston Davis
The MIT Press, $27.95, 306 pp.

Serious thought about what there is and what it’s like leads in the end to one of two conclusions: Christ or nothing. Christ-centered trinitarianism sees Jesus, the incarnate Lord, as the crux of the cosmos, and the cosmos as a series of intensities brought into being out of nothing and ordered according to degree of intimacy with the triune Lord. Evil, in this view, is secondary: a privation, a destructive loss of intimacy. Nihilism asserts the primacy of emptiness over plenitude, absence over presence, death over life, and, therefore, the secondary and finally illusory nature of what appears. Evil, in this view, is on a par with everything else, as real as anything else, one more discordance in an already inharmonious field.

Deciding for trinitarianism over nihilism is not like deciding for theism over atheism. That debate, especially in its currently popular forms (Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins), is about whether the furniture of the cosmos includes an item called “God.” Arguments of that sort have almost nothing to do with the triune God of Abraham and Isaac and Jesus. Better to think about whether the cosmos is plenitude’s overflow—its end light everlasting—or whether it is instead like the green and ghastly light-show produced on the inner eyeball by a detaching retina, a show whose end is blindness. This is a much more interesting debate, though also a much more difficult one—difficult...

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About the Author

Paul J. Griffiths holds the Warren Chair of Catholic Theology at Duke University.