The secular and the sacred in the thinking of John Milbank: a critical evaluation

04 July 2014

This article examines John Milbank's deconstruction of secular social theory, and the counter master narrative that he proposes. Milbank depicts secular social theory as based on an ontology of 'violence'. Instead, he proposes a participatory Christian master narrative based on an ontology of peace. Two questions are posed in this article. First, is Milbank's description of secular thought as undergirded by an ontology of violence valid? Second, does the Christian counter narrative that he proposes provide an adequate and viable social theory? After explicating Milbank's analysis of secular social theory and his alternative of an ontology of peace, the article comes to the conclusion that Milbank's analysis of secular theory is seriously flawed because of the very comprehensive and universal content that he gives to the term 'violence'. His alternative social theory is also not viable because of the ecclesiocentric nature of his model. It is argued that Milbank's alternative narrative displays contradictions and does not escape theocratic, relativist and 'violent' elements.