I would be interested in hearing more from you on this [Neo-Orthodoxy]. Why does it lead to non-realism? Why would trinitarians of old dismiss it as heterodox? Would you care to name who are the neo-orthodox in the Anglican theological world today?
It leads to non-realism because of a dismissal of culture and worldy reality as sources of objective truth. All neo-othodoxies, whether Catholic or Protestant, are Platonist - idealism is based in the pure in the heavens. Karl Barth has nature corrupted to an absolute degree, as a loyal Roman Catholic states:
...if we believe this new gospel of his [Barth], God would be reputed as having said that, ever since the sin, nature is so corrupted that nothing of it remains but its very coruption, a mass of perdition which grace can indeed still pardon, but which nothing henceforth could ever heal. Thus, then, in order the better to fight against paganism and Pelagianism, this doctrine invites us to despair of nature, to renounce all effort to save reason and rechristianize it.
Gilson, Etienne, 'The Intelligence in the Service of Christ' from his book Christanity and Philosophy (1936) in Pelikan, Jaroslav (1990), The World Treasury of Modern Religious Thought, London: Little Brown and Company, 218-233.
The relationship of Christianity and reason, then, is best grounded in the Aristotle approach given its marriage into Christianity by Thomas Aquinas, for here reality is grounded in our world and being, and that is a reality which needs healing (says Christianity).
Of course there are degrees of extraction, but I am referring to neo-Orthodoxy which is double specific line. The God of Barth is entirely one way, from God downwards, and so is invisible and unreachable. That God exists in a dramatic encounter, and that becomes a textual inheritance. So it is text, but text devoid of cultural root. Now we might say that the cultural root is obvious - it is Hebrew and Greek - but these are no more than wrapping paper for the text as the drama. If you happen to be a chosen believer, the encounter almost goes through the culture and indeed through the text. But the point is how to understand if from where we are. It becomes then a drama in itself, a narrative, and a story.
It is no accident that this stuff, with help from Bonhoeffer, becomes part of secular theology, that is theology of a humanity come of age when it no longer asks religious questions. This busy person just gets on with life. To ask questions, Tillich style, is to wallow in cultural issues, including cultural issues of religion. But where there are cultural issues, or a Church likely to be corrupt itself, these are entirely transient. Indeed many in their religions are entirely mistaken.
So from a cultural perspective, the religion of Christianity is non-real. It starts with revelation and encounter, but it translates as being unreal. It is not rooted in anything, other than the invisible.
The Catholic side of neo-Orthodoxy self proclaims its Platonism (so what if Plato is also cultural!) and it produces its premodern Christianity inside the postmodern space identified. Far from the Church being corrupt, John Milbank's Anglo-Catholic Church is pure truth. It is the deposit of peace and reason; its reason triumphs over secular reason. Secular reason is untrue, because it is a false theology. Therefore the world is false, and indeed has broken down into postmodernism. In that bubble of space, this non-realist Platonic source of truth, the Church (under God and Christ) is a non-objective anywhere else existence. In the Protestant version there is Lindbeck's ecumenical Church, and people in it simple have 'standards of role performance' rather than any other truth claim. Like with the biblical version, you can only perform.
So there is a sharing of non-realism with Cupitt, but from an entirely different angle, as Cupitt retains connection with the world's dominant narratives rather than the failure of the Church and Bible to connect with a larger modernity (and most of postmodernity) and therefore its sectarianism.
It is heterodox because the older folks, including the liberals, retained a connection in reality with this world. It either was full on Aquinas, or, in the liberal sense, the limitations introduced by science and social science - in other words, research.
The Unitarians of old used all the language: Christ (our brother, our leader), the Holy Spirit (the energy of God - as said Rev. in episode 2) and God the Father, the creator. The Incarnation became general and complete rather than tradition-and-person specific. Of course they were labelled as heterodox, because it isn't enough to have modes of activity or a plurality of actions, or the often heard today of the social and collective nature of the Godhead getting on nicely with each other. The Trinity is about philosophical precision of the relationship of the Godhead, and one that is both in the heavens and redeeming the earth in a dynamic eternal relationship. These days, unable to explain it, people shortcut it. Neither Milbank nor Lindbeck nor Frei nor Barth are redeeming the earth.
So I know about Milbank and a few of his fans (including some Lutheran). As for the biblical bunch, well there's my mate Anglican curate Rachel. She likes nothing better than a good trip to some New Wine church or some independent gathering for an arms-out knees-up. She is, she says, a poststructuralist. She says that many tutors in her just left theological college are fans of Frei and Neo-orthodoxy. Perhaps they live isolated lives.
I'm a liberal soft-postmodernist when it comes to religion. Otherwise I'm not, really. I think religion is culture, but culture is transient and we make religion up, including God. It's like the arts. Research in the arts is no more than the latest trend, or how we arrived at where we are. Research elsewhere is more important.
I do allow for signals of transcendence. A fundamental one might be chaos theory. Anyone listening today to the UK Office for Budget Responsibility and the Chancellor adjusting his plans should refer to chaos theory. It is a fundamental in weather, in economics, in evolution and in mathematics. It gets very little treatment in theology because too many people have become sectarian and retreated to their neo-orthodoxies. The simplest mathematic equations with virtual numbers, just repeated, produce fantastic shapes, and you can never know the starting point sufficiently to know the outcome. What a theology of creation and sustaining that makes.