Christian philosophy and philosophy of religion tend to be dominated by analytic approaches, which have brought a valuable logical rigor to the discussion of matters of belief. However, the perspectives of continental philosophy--in particular, the continental emphasis on embodied forms of knowing--still have much to offer to the conversation and our understanding of what it means to be both rational and faithful in a postmodern world.
The Nicene Option represents the full sweep of James K. A. Smith's work in continental philosophy of religion over the past twenty years. Animated by the conviction that a philosophy of religion needs to be philosophical reflection on the practice of religion, as a form of life (as Wittgenstein would say), this book makes the case for the distinct contribution that phenomenology--as a philosophy of experience--can make to philosophy of religion and Christian philosophy. Engaging a range of philosophers in this tradition, including Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Luc Marion, Richard Rorty, and Charles Taylor, Smith's constructive proposal coheres around what he describes as the logic of incarnation, a Nicene option in contemporary philosophy of religion. By grounding philosophy of religion in the doctrinal heart of Christian confession, Smith gestures toward a uniquely robust Christian philosophy.
Besides issuing a clarion call for the renaissance of continental philosophy of religion, The Nicene Option also offers a glimpse behind the scholarly curtain for a wider audience of readers familiar with Smith's popular works such as Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?, Desiring the Kingdom, Imagining the Kingdom, and You Are What You Love--all of which are tacitly informed by the phenomenological approach articulated in this book. As an extended footnote to those works--which for many readers have been gateways to philosophy-- The Nicene Option presents an invitation to a new depth of reflection.