Political Theology after Metaphysics

By Derek Brown

Subjects: Theology, Continental Philosophy, Marxism, Philosophy Of Religion
Series: SUNY series in Theology and Continental Thought
Hardcover : 9781438495866, 292 pages, December 2023
Paperback : 9781438495859, 292 pages, June 2024

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Table of contents


1. Polemical Ontology: Carl Schmitt’s “Decisionism” Is Not What It Seems

2. Deconstructing Theology, Constructing Faith?

3. Belonging to the World: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Secular Love

4. Orthodoxy Is Orthopraxy: Kierkegaard’s Relation to Marx Reconsidered

5. God Is and Is Not Black: Black Theology, Marxism, and the Relationship between Race and Class

Conclusion: St. John Brown

Argues for a revolutionary political theology that can be used to combat racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression.


In Political Theology after Metaphysics, Derek Brown argues that theologians and religious believers should pursue a revolutionary political theology that can address racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression in practical ways, rather than following the sorts of metaphysical theologies that have dominated theological discourse since at least the scholastic period. Relying primarily on Marxist and deconstructive critiques of the ideological function of metaphysics, the book engages a wide range of classical and contemporary figures, including Karl Marx, Søren Kierkegaard, Carl Schmitt, Jacques Derrida, James Cone, Chantal Mouffe, Cornel West, Martin Hägglund, and Karl Ove Knausgård. These engagements are attentive not only to the ways in which these figures critique or defend metaphysics, but also to the ways in which they perform political theologies responsive to those critiques. While the so-called postmodern critique of metaphysics—which Brown problematizes as insufficiently critical of political ideology—is often read as a challenge to religion, Brown’s readings suggest that the deconstructive and Marxist critiques of metaphysics present an opportunity for the reemergence of a historical and politically engaged form of religion.

Derek Brown is Instructor of Writing at Koç University.


"Brown's fundamental project in this book is to read an original series of formative texts in order to allow them to be put to work against racism and exploitation. Building, with utmost care, a rigorous scholarly foundation across the disciplines of political science, literary theory, philosophy, and theology, he argues, compellingly, that the contemporary racial diversity frameworks employed by institutions such as universities and colleges are more likely to aid capitalist exploitation than actually combat racism and oppression. This book will be an invaluable resource for courses that deal with race and racism, as well as for the numerous interdisciplinary committees and groups of scholars that are forming today in an effort to address the contemporary crisis of racism in the United States." — Frances Maughan-Brown, College of the Holy Cross

"Political theology is at a turning point, and this book helps rethink the options. Various forms of metaphysics, idealism, and the related theologies have reached an impasse because they are linked with the theologies of capitalism. In response, Brown introduces viable alternatives, drawing on original interpretations of their theoretical embodiments." — Joerg Rieger, Distinguished Professor of Theology, Vanderbilt University