Risk of Tradition: With de Certeau toward a Postmodern Catholic Theory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This article centres on a controversial essay by Michel de Certeau, “How is Christianity Thinkable Today?” De Certeau’s essay articulates a postmodern theory of tradition by identifying the core of the Christian faith as the “event” or “inaugural rupture” of the Incarnation. There is much to commend in de Certeau’s approach, which makes it possible to think tradition as a dynamic phenomenon that opens up a space for Christian theory and praxis. Yet de Certeau’s theory also suffers from serious shortcomings; his teacher Henri de Lubac repudiated it almost violently, regarding it as a textbook example of neo-Joachimism. I attempt to save de Certeau’s approach by taking into consideration some of the main criticisms. Most importantly, de Certeau’s overly formal conception of tradition requires content, and his excessive emphasis on Jesus’s only mediated (“alienated”) presence in the Gospels and the tradition needs correction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-118
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Moral Theology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Journal of Moral Theology, Inc. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Risk of Tradition: With de Certeau toward a Postmodern Catholic Theory'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this