“Desuturing Christ from theology
Our basic equation is: Christ = science of Christ = gnosis, along with its corollary gnosis vs theology or Christology. That Christ is simply the name of the science of Christ, that its other name is gnosis, that “gnostic theology” thus signifies that theology is demoted, without being completely denied, as object of gnosis – nothing in these radical axioms stems from accepted Christianity” (my translation).
Thus begins the first chapter of Laruelle’s new book “CHRISTO-FICTION: Les ruines d’Athènes et de Jérusalem” (Fayard, 2014), preceded by a programmatic preface and a methodological introduction. Highlights:
“If Christianity is the religion of the exit from religions, Christ is the exit from Christianity itself.”
Laruelle desires to invent the impossible coming of Christ, to “propose a christo-fiction, declared and affirmed as such”, by means of “renewed procedures of a scientific type” combined with “ancient theological models of a philosophical type”.
(Note: in desuturing Christ from theology Laruelle proposes another suture, with science, thus maintaining his habitual scientism).
Laruelle wants to escape belief and its categories, to invent new categories that correspond to a fidelity, and to “craft a fiction capable of supporting this fidelity”. He wants to create a fiction that is also “rigorous”, and that nevertheless “does not reproduce … an already accepted truth”.
According to Laruelle, The Principle of Sufficient Theology cannot think the Christ-in-person of the faithful, as opposed to the Christ of the believers.
(Note: One cannot help being struck by the similarities with another “non-philosopher”, Bruno Latour, who in his book REJOICING seeks to free Christianity from the sufficiency of “Double-Click” literalism, and who argues that religion has nothing to do with belief).
Laruelle wants to promote a fictional Christ that would be more authentic than the legends and the histories, to invent a fictional or fictionalising fidelity, to set out a non-theology that is atheistic and “quantic-oriented”.
(This orientation towards the quantum is no doubt more satisfying intellectually than recent “object-oriented” ontologies, but it continues Laruelle’s vice of scientism).
Christo-fiction as opposed to standard theology is characterised by “the suspension of the belief in its [standard theology’s] religious and theoretical, i.e. philosophical, aspects”.
Opposing the faith of the faithful to the belief of the Christians, Laruelle regards his own Christo-fiction not as a new dogma or thesis, but as a thought-experiment, or better as a “faith-experiment”: “a practice of non-philosophical or non-standard writing which presents and produces its axioms and its rules in the course of their application”.
(This is the case, according to Jean-François Lyotard, for any philosophy worthy of the name. It is not unique to Laruelle).
This fiction is to be distinguished from historical accounts and belief traditions in that it is a “formalisation” based on scientific knowledge. Against unfounded yet sufficient belief, Laruelle defends a “generic and scientifically modelised faith”.
Laruelle invokes a “new kerygma”: “belief is the sufficience of God but faith is the non-sufficience of Christ, and thus of the humans who demote the sufficience of God”.
The preface ends with the contrast between the Principle of Sufficient Theology and Laruelle’s “necessary but non-sufficient faith”.
Comment: the preface is relatively clear and pedagogical, and the overall argument is easy to grasp. De-suturing faith from belief, tradition, history, and theology and ascribing it to another mode of existence is a familiar move, but Laruelle’s way of making this move is quite stimulating.
The major problem lies in his repeated appeals to a scientificity that for the moment, in this preface, is limited to formalisation, an axiomatic approach, and a hinted real and non-metaphorical relation to quantum theory. There is thus an unresolved tension in this text between Laruelle’s appeals to non-standard thinking and writing and a regressively standard scientism.