Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Political Theology of the Crucified God: M. M. Thomas and the Contemporary Political Thought

(published in "The Life, Legacy and Theology of M.M. Thomas," Jesudas Athyal, George Zachariah and Monica Melanchthon, eds. (London and New York: Routledge, 2016), pp 195-203) 

It is an honor and privilege for me to be part of this M.M. Thomas’ centenary volume. M.M. Thomas as a theologian and ecumenist offered new trends in Indian Christian theology and Indian social thought. Commemorating his life and witness in the contemporary context demands a re-reading of his theological/ social thought which would be an appropriate tribute to M.M. Thomas. As a student of theology and a pastor in the Mar Thoma church, I admire M. M. Thomas as a veteran Bible teacher who used to interact with us children and as a social reformer who inspired us to stand in solidarity with the poor and the marginalized in India. In my student days, as an active member of the Student Christian Movement of India (SCMI), I had the privilege to be in touch with M. M. Thomas whose life and thoughts influenced me in deep and motivated me to consider church ministry as my vocation. Along with the new generation theologians in India I salute to the ever green memory of M.M. Thomas whom Indian Christian church and theological academia can never forget.        
David Tracy, in his book On Naming the Present: God, Hermeneutics, and Church, refers to three factors that constitute the contemporary: modernity, anti-modernity, and postmodernity.[1]  For modernists, according to Tracy, the Western enlightenment notions of politics and theology are foundational for all other knowledges.  For anti-modernists, the present is the time to retreat to a past which is not at all contaminated by the modernity. Postmodernists attends to the ‘gaps’ unfilled by the project of modernity and problematizes the marginal spaces created by Eurocentrism and totalitarianism.  Alluding to the postcolonial theories Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak would add one more dimension to the category—contemporary: postcoloniality.[2] Postcoloniality, on the other hand, exposes the totalitarian tendencies of the modern Western thought and pays attention to the recuperation of the colonized bodies, cultures, and spaces. Nevertheless, the present—the contemporary—is complex, ambiguous, and fragmented and demands theology to have effective methodologies to attend the ‘multifariousness of contemporary life.’
Theologizing the politicality of life is the fundamental task of political theology. However, has theology ever been apolitical? Or has politics ever been atheological?  The distinction between theology and politics is a matter of debate today. Are they distinct, interchangeable, alternative, parallel, polar, complimentary or supplementary? Political thinkers have already exposed the integral connection between political thinking and the history of the West and hence with the Christendom. As we all know, the omnipotent—sovereign God is a pre-condition for the Hobbesian political theory of modern state, democracy, and politics which is foundational for the modern Western political theology. On the other hand, the contemporary postmodern/ postcolonial theological imaginations interrogate Christian Theology’s “imperio-colonial sense” and demand the deconstruction of Christianity and its logic of sovereign God.[3]  They signify the theology of the crucified God by which they try to nullify the claim for the legitimacy of the sovereign state and problematize the state of exception—the marginal space—which is legally substantiated within.  Here, the inadequacy of the modern political theologies to interrogate the logic of Empire is exposed and the imperative of the reconstitution of a radical political theology is affirmed.    

M. M. Thomas was one of the post-independent Indian Christian theologians who found significance in the theology of the crucified God to expose the failure of the Absolutist political power of the state in India. Thomas’ theology, in the process of formulating radical political theology in India offered a political logic of forgiveness founded on his theology of the crucified God.  It was an exhortation to the secular state to imagine its post-secular identity and to the religions to think about a secular Koinonia. However, the inadequacy to address the postcolonial aspects of post-independent Indian politics and their implications on contemporary theology necessitate a re-reading or critical engagement with his theological imaginations. This paper tries to re-read Thomas’ understanding of state, democracy, and politics by highlighting his theology of the crucified God in dialogue with the postmodern political thinkers—Gianni Vattimo and Giorgio Agamben.  The list of postmodern/ postcolonial thinkers who make use of the Biblical resources to formulate their political theories is very vast. The selection of Vattimo and Agamben is based on their close affinity with the Christian theological heritage and their critique of the dogmatic Christian faith from within.  Despite the epistemological divergences between the postmodern/ postcolonial political thinkers and M. M. Thomas, it is interested to see some of the converging points in the theology of cross especially in terms of their consensus to formulate a materialist foundation for Christian theology.    
Defining Political Theology
The concept of ‘political theology’ connotes, As Jan Assmann suggests, the ‘ever changing relationships between political community and religious order, in short, between power [or authority: Herrschaft] and salvation [Heil].’[4] Political theology addresses the questions such as, the relationship between theology and politics; the relationship between church and state; the role of religion in public life; and to what extend religious belief should shape our political discourses. Historically, the term political theology dates to Marcus Terentius Varro (116-27 BC) who speaks of the stoic tripartition of theology, in which a political theology is juxtaposed with mythical and cosmological theologies.  In the City of God, Augustine contrasts the City of God with an earthly city and refuses to sacralize the Roman Empire. In the mediaeval period this dialectics continued and this was evident in the conflict between papacy and secular rules. Martin Luther in the reformation period signifies two kingdoms.   It was the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) marked the collapse of Christendom and gave secular authorities the power to determine matters of religion in their own state. When it comes to the enlightenment period, religion was relegated to a private space which is totally opposite to the political realm.
Postmodernity as it demands the return of the religion envisions a post-secular and post-religion context.  Post-religion signifies Christianity after Christendom and God after the death of God. In this new context, Christianity is provoked to be deconstructed in order to listen to the other religions, ideologies, and cultures.   God in this context is a weak God as we seen in the life of Jesus Christ on the cross.   Cross as it poses itself as the political space of crucifixion and resurrection, becomes a sign and symbol of the contemporary political theology. Unlike the atonement theories in antiquity by which the cross has been interpreted as the site of divine sacrifice and love towards the human kind who had gone astray from the divine, and the Hobbesian political theologies that are founded on the notions of sovereignty and transcendence, the contemporary political thought finds the location of crucifixion as the death of all unitary, hegemonic, absolutist metaphysics and ontology.  Following the Spinozian theologico-politico epistemological tradition and denying the ‘hyper transcendentalist’ western tradition, the contemporary political thinkers offer a radical political ontology and a materialist theology of the “common”—the Multitude.                      
Crucified God: Taking Stock of Contemporary Political Thought
i.                   Weak Ontology: Gianni Vattimo
Gianni Vattimo is a prominent social democratic politician and a distinguished Italian philosopher. Postmodernism, according to Vattimo, is an epoch of transformation of ontology (the notion of being).   Modernity developed the notion—“forgetting of being.” For modernity, the constitution of being is an innocent activity—nothing official about it—because it is the European, white, male being which is at the center of all discourses of politics, philosophy, and theology.  Postmodernity dismantles this certainty of modern ontology and metaphysics and opens up a new sphere of multiple interpretations of being. Following the Nietzsche’s “death of God theology” and Heideggerian “ontology of Dasein,” Vattimo offers a political theory of ‘weak ontology’ which means that the meaning of being is embodied in manifold interpretations.[5] Vattimo finds the theological foundation of this ‘weak ontology’ in the theology of cross where the sovereignty of God is denied and the violence of the modern metaphysics is rejected. 
According to Vattimo, “the weak ontology” or “the ontology of the weakening of (the western) Being” supplies philosophical reasons for preferring a liberal, tolerant, and democratic society rather than an authoritarian and totalitarian one. It stands for the emancipatory politics as it attends to the cry of the victims in this world. It signifies a post-metaphysical epoch where the identities are understood in terms of our relationality, mutuality and multiplicity. The (Western) logic of development at the coast of the non-Western communities and cultures are to be revoked on the basis of this ‘weak ontology’ and metaphysics. The capitalist logic of economy has to be revoked in order to understand the struggles of the marginalized people in the colonized worlds. On the whole, ‘the weak ontology’ signifies a post-Western/ colonial philosophy, science, economics, culture, and politics.
Alluding to Rene Girard, Vattimo argues that natural religions are founded upon the need to create victims to keep order in society.   There is a metaphysics that connects sacred with violence.   A sacrificial scapegoat is killed to prevent the society’s destruction. Bible reveals this victim based mechanism.  For Vattimo, Jesus was not sacrificing himself for his father; rather he was trying to expose this victim-based mechanism.  Cross, by exposing the violence connected to the sacred, becomes an act of emancipation.[6]   Jesus on the cross abolishes the nexus between violence and the sacred. Cross exemplifies the divine act of kenosis.   Kenosis is the message of the weakening of God.  Imitating God is listening to the message of weakening as principle.  It is this message enables us to weaken the sovereign political structures that create victims.  For Vattimo, faith in Christ is nothing but a faith in the weakening of strong structures (metaphysical, political, and religious) that restricted multiple interpretation of ontology.  Weakening or nihilism, for Vattimo, is not a negative/ pessimistic location; rather it is the ‘sole opportunity’ for emancipation from the violence of metaphysics. Vattimo, by rejecting the metaphysical foundation of the act of politics argues for a political ontology of actuality that finds meaning in all local argumentative political practice.[7]         
ii.                 Ontology of inoperativity: Giorgio Agamben
Giorgio Agamben is the professor of philosophy and Aesthetics at the University of Verona in Italy.  Agamben’s political thought begins with his distinction between political life (bios) and bare life (zoe) or non-political life.  For Agamben as citizens of the state, we become juridical subjects.   We all are born to a political system and thereby we are denied of our bare life—life we have simply as human beings.  Thus the stateless—the slaves, the unborn, the refugees, the inhabitants of the camps are non-humans.  Here Agamben reveals his thesis that the marginality of those people are legally legitimized and sanctioned within.   The notion of the sovereign state legitimizes this ‘state of exception’—the state of ‘excluded in’ and ‘included out.’ [8]
Re-reading the Pauline theology of cross, Agamben argues that crucifixion is the point of revocation of our subjectivity.   Christian vocation is a call (kletos) to revoke all our vocations.  All other vocations like slave/ master; woman/ man; Jew/ gentle etc. are constituted juridically. Call to be part of ekklesia is to crucify the juridical subjectivity and to reconstitute new subjectivity in Jesus Christ.   The vocation’s revocation involves death—crucifixion.  The resurrection is the revocation of the vocation on behalf of the church—‘the coming community’ and thereby becomes the Christian political agent.  Agamben argues that the revoked and crucified vocation of the Christian political agent should be evident in their ‘quietist political action.’  The Pauline usage of the Greek word katargeo which means deactivation or de-energizes or emptying out connected to the concept of crucifixion explains the quietest political action of the Christian agent.   It is nothing but the act of inoperativity of the juridical subjectivity and to become part of a collective subjectivity—‘the coming community.’ To be a new creation in Christ is not exactly or simply to take a new identity; it is to empty one’s already-in-place identity of juridical significance without thereby removing it.[9] Christian political agent, a citizen with vocation revoked, is a member of the remnant who acts in the Kairos of the messianic now. In Agamben’s view the Christian agent is supposed to crucify her political interest and thereby do politics without law through quietism, skepticism, hope and lament.
The Messianic call is to deactivate the juridical subjectivity and thus become bare life-the life which is not bounded by the law.   It is nothing but the sphere of the church—the body of the crucified Christ.   Those who live in the ekklesia are in a sphere of weakness which alone makes possible the use of their emptied but still present vocations.  The church, in this sense, is community without the law; it is what Agamben likes to call the coming community, the community that occupies the time that remains, the community which is outside of the law.  It is the location of bare life—the crucified body of the victims of the world. Ecclesiology in Agamben’s political thought is a political ontology which embodies a cruciform ontology. Agamben’s political theory based on cross does not make us inactive; rather asks us to be ontologically different and actively participated in the contemporary political programme of reconfiguring the social positions and subjectivities.   
Crucified God: Political Theology of M. M. Thomas
M.M. Thomas’ political thought is founded in the interstice between ideology and faith.  Prophetic faith, according to Thomas is “the spiritual opening of our hearts to the cries of the victims in response to the passion of God.  Political theology translates it in terms of understanding the situation of the victims and formulating the ends and means to be pursued to effect a transformation of the situation.   In that way faith needs ideology in the struggle for justice.”[10] Though his teleological anthropology and its dialectical materialist relationship positions him in the Hegelian/ Marxist epistemological framework, Thomas overcomes its inherent limitation by opening the Hegelian closed ontology with the Christian faith that keeps the internal potentiality of human bodies and social bodies vibrantly.  The hermeneutability of human subjectivity is well explained by his theology of humanization.  Church as the body of the crucified God, for Thomas, is the embodiment of this potentiality and vibrancy as it reconstitutes its ontology in solidarity with the victims of this world.        
Responding to the declaration of emergency in 1975, Dr. Thomas interrogated the totalitarianism and the authoritarianism of the sovereign state in India.  Thomas wrote: “The price we pay for the peace of a police raj is that it will put large sections of the people, just beginning to awaken to their rights in the emerging society, back to sleep….Without some revolts and conflicts resulting from people’s efforts to throw of their slavery and exploitative structures, poverty will remain with us forever. It is these revolts which have now been halted.”[11]  For Thomas, state is a protector human rights and it legitimizes peoples’ desire for emancipation. His distinction between “conquering kingship” and “suffering servant hood” is very much helpful to understand his theology of state.
Thomas’ theology of state is founded on his theology of cross. According to Thomas, the cross is the self-manifestation of the self-forgetting and self-sacrificing God. This crucified God in Jesus was giving new direction to the Davidic kingdom which is established on sovereign power. Crucified one is the negation of the totalitarian exercise of power over humans. The state is to serve the people, not to rule over the people. Thomas cites St. Mathew to clarify his theology of state: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but however would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man come not to be served but to serve; and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt. 20: 25-28). Thomas comments that the throne of David has been replaced by the kingdom community through the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.[12]
Thomas argues that on the cross, Jesus Christ disarmed the rulers and the authorities of the world. The empire is defeated and nullified. Cross signifies the end of the totalitarian power and the beginning of a new community—kingdom community—a universal community where there is no dichotomies. In the new community, “there is no longer any distinction between gentles and Jews, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarians, savages, slaves, and free” (Col.3:11). The new human community is constituted as a single body—the body of the crucified God in history. The crucified body of God is not a new thing; rather it is the body of the slain lamb from the creation of the world and it continues to be slain till the end of the world fighting against the totalitarian forces of powers. The mark of crucifixion continues to be the sign of the suffering struggle of God against the principalities and powers till the end of the world.  It is a radical reconstitution of the political subjectivity through which the imperialist biopolitics is crucified and initiated a new ontology of solidarity and multiplicity.  According to Thomas, the mission of the church today is to embody this mark of crucifixion and thereby reconstitute its own ontology by baptizing it in the cries of the political victims in India today.
According to Thomas, church is entrusted with a prophetic diakonia to discharge its duty based on the servant hood exemplified by the crucified God. Thomas writes: “The church in India is called to proclaim the gospel of the crucified and risen Christ as the source of redemption of all spiritualties underlying religion as well as ideologies, and to demonstrate the Koinonia in Christ around the Eucharist as the nucleus of a movement of the larger Koinonia in Christ uniting peoples of diverse religions, ideologies and cultures—as well as the cosmos with its bio-diversity.”[13]   Based on his theology of cross, M. M. Thomas explains the features of the mission of the church in India: (1) the calling of the church is to resist the idolatry of power and wealth and other gods of death in India’s collective life, (2) to be in solidarity with the poor and the oppressed in their struggle for justice, and (3)the mission of the church to give up communal self-interest and self-identity for the sake of creating in India a secular national community in the midst of India’s religious and ideological pluralism through manifesting a fellowship in Christ, transcending class, caste, ethnic and religious communal divisions.[14]  
However, what is lacking in the political theology of M.M. Thomas is that he was not attentive to the metamorphosis happening to the sovereign state as it was becoming the Empire.   In the context of Empire democracy assumes the global stature and the national citizens become trans-national subjects which demand new analytical tools to assess the metamorphosis happening to post-globalized state and democracy.   Empire assumes new cultural-religious-economic logics and manifestations that legitimize a multifaceted sovereign political power which has no single point of performance. The biopolitics of the Empire assumes multiple origins and micro-formations.  Here political becomes cultural and social and their ramifications in the micro-spaces of common living are even extended to the human bodies.    According to Antonio Negri politics is not the reaction-response of people against the state, rather; human life itself is political.   Alluding to the Spinozian tradition, Negri makes us to think about a human body and social body which is prior to the biopolitical impact of the state on human life. In the Spinozian tradition, life has its own inherent potentiality to challenge the hegemonic practices and that politics of ‘bare-life’ is to be upheld for a radical political engagement. Negri calls it the politics of multitude.[15] The political theory of multitude signifies a social living of ‘common’ which is capable enough to take on the global form of Empire in its multiplicity and universality.                                       
Denying the notion of the Sovereign God—the unitary foundation of our politics, philosophy, and theology, the contemporary political theology signifies the theology of multitude.  The political theology of multitude signifies the God of multiplicity, alterity and fluidity based on the theology of the crucified God.   Ontology is given the possibility to have multiple interpretations. According to the theology of multitude, life is embedded with divine potentiality and it is always endowed with bio-power to transform itself.    The crucified body of Christ does not demand a transcendental God who comes from beyond to offer his gracious act of salvation, rather; it is in the agonies of the tortured bodies we find a tortured God. Here, God is not a transcendent omnipotent reality, rather; it is the inherent potentiality of life to deny the biopolitics of Empire even in its micro-spaces of both human and social body.   Contemporary political theology, differentiating itself from the medieval atonement theories and even from the modern political theologies locates itself in a social logic of salvation embodied in the cruciform existence of the countless victims in the world. Hence, it becomes a theology of embodiment and materialism.   Political theology in India today signifies the theology of multitude, of course even going beyond the theology of M.M. Thomas in order to find meaning in the micro-politics of human life which is not at all obliged to have a teleological point of convergence like class struggle or any other unilateral struggle against the state; rather promotes an ontology of actuality and multiplicity to find life in “common” in the context of Empire.     

Y. T. Vinayaraj    

[1] David Tracy, On Naming the Present: God, Hermeneutics, and Church (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1994), 3.
[2] Spivak, A Critique of Postcolonial reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999).
[3] Jean-Luc Nancy, Dis-Enclosure: The Deconstruction of Christianity, trans. Bettina Bergo, Gabreil Malenfant, and Michael B. Smith (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008).
[4] Jan Assmann, Authority and Salvation: Political Theology in Ancient Egypt, Israel, and Egypt (Munich: Carl Hanser, 2000), 15 cited by Hent de Vries and Lawrence E. Sullivan, eds., Political Theologies: Public Religions in a Post-secular World (Delhi: Orient Longman, 2006), 32.
[5] Gianni Vattimo, Nihilism & Emancipation: Ethics, Politics, and Law (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 91-92.
[6] Gianni Vattimo, Nihilism & Emancipation, 109.
[7]Gianni Vattimo, Nihilism & Emancipation, 88.
[8] Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), 11  
[9] Paul J. Griffiths, “The Cross as the Fulcrum of Politics: Expropriating Agamben on Paul,” in Paul and the Philosophers, ed. Ward Blanton & Hent de Vries (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013),179-197.  
[10] M. M. Thomas, Faith and Ideology in the Struggle for Justice, p. 30, cited by Bastiaan Wielenga, “Faith, Ideology & Politics: A Contextual Interpretation of the Social Philosophy of Dr. M.M. Thomas,” in Koottayamayilekulla Valarch (Mal.) ed. M. J. Joseph (Tiruvalla: CSS, 1996), 113.
[11] M. M. Thomas, Responses to Tyranny (Tiruvalla: CSS, 2000), 17.
[12] M.M. Thomas, The Throne of David (Tiruvalla: CSS, 2006), 41.
[13] M.M. Thomas, A Diaconal Approach to Indian Ecclesiology (Rome & Tiruvalla: CIIS & CSS, 1995), 82.
[14] M.M. Thomas, “The Church in India—Witness to the Meaning of the Cross Today,” in Future of the Church in India, ed., Aruna Gnanadason (Nagpur: NCCI, 1990), 11.
[15] Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (New York: Penguin Press, 2004).

Monday, June 27, 2016

Ecclesiology with(out) Margins: Defining Church in the Context of Empire

                                                               Y.T. Vinayaraj*    
(Published in Asia Journal of Theology (AJT) Volume 30 Number 1,April 2016)

The emergence of the global Empire provides the new global context of theology. This context is ecumenical and universal. No theological reflection can avoid this context. All faiths and religions are bound to deal with this context. There may be different starting points, depending on the locus of the faith community. Whether one is at the seat and center of the Empire or at its periphery, one is not outside of the Empire.
Kim Yong Bok[1]

As Kim Yong Bok rightly said, contemporary theology cannot evade the context of Empire. Empire has become an all-embracing global order from where there is no escape. Though Kim points to the crucial situation of desperation and hopelessness, the imperative of the Church to do theology of life and hope in the contemporary context of Empire is clearly established in his statement. Kim’s sense of crisis about the entrapment of human life within the all-encompassing imperial logic of Empire is shared by some contemporary political thinkers. But the crisis provokes and invokes Christian theology to re-constitute its theology of the Church. However, the relationship between Empire and Church is so complicated in the history of Christianity. Despite the illegitimate alliance with the Empire through the ages, the Church itself many a time had assumed the role of a juridical institution and hierarchical agency. The Church as an “enclosed community” of authority and tradition faces interrogation as it assumes the imperial ontology and hierarchical functioning. It is the question of marginality that destabilizes the ecclesial logic of “enclosed community” and challenges it to be a “coming community”—as Giorgio Agamben calls it. For Agamben, the Church is “a community of those who have no community at all.”[2]  In fact, marginality deconstructs the ontology of the Church. Ecclesiology has been exercising a comfortable position in theology by accommodating marginality as the “excluded within” or an “exterior Other.”   Marginality as a site of deconstruction, on the other hand, demands the reconstitution of the ontology of the Church. Can we think about the ontology of the Church without margins? In other words, is there any marginal location outside of the being of the Church in order to show its solidarity as its “missiological Other”?

The same question is also valid vis-à-vis the concept of Empire.  Contemporary political theorists like Antonio Negri and Michel Hardt argue that there is an “enclosed ontology” of the Empire that controls, orders, and homogenizes nations, people, cultures, economies, and politics in favor of the multi-national corporations and imperial regimes. The slaves, the refugees, the inhabitants of the camps, the immigrants, the unborn, the stateless, the homeless, the transgender, the colored, the untouchables are the people “excluded within” or “included out” who constantly nullify the “enclosed ontology” of the Empire that determines the marginality as a “state of exception” or “bare-life.” Positioning in this ontological dilemma of Empire and Church with regard to the question of marginality, this paper asks the following questions:  What would be the radical ecclesiology in the contemporary context of Empire? When the Empire assumes an “enclosed ontology” thereby it legitimizes the marginality within its logic of domination and subordination, how do we define the ontology of the Church in its relationship with the marginalized?  Does the ecclesiology that defines marginality as its “exterior Other” legitimize an “imperial ontology” through which it offers salvation to the Other?   Can we have a radical ecclesiology today without margins as it denies the logic of “Oneness” of Empire and affirms the logic of “manyness” of the “Multitude”?  Denying the logic of “Oneness” of the Empire and signifying the logic of “manyness” of the Multitude as it was offered by Antonio Negri and Michel Hardt, this paper explores the possibility of offering a theoretical/theological framework for a contemporary radical ecclesiology without margins in the context of Empire. This paper consists of two major sections. The first explains the notion of Empire as it is proposed by Antonio Negri and Michel Hardt in their trilogy: Empire, Multitude, and Commonwealth; the second section offers a proposal for a radical ecclesiology in the contemporary Indian context of Empire by signifying some of the theological treatises such as M.M. Thomas’s “New Humanity” and Giorgio Agamben’s “Coming Community.”  

I.                  Empire, Multitude, and Commonwealth: Signifying Antonio Negri for a Radical Ecclesiology in the Context of Empire 

Antonio Negri, the Italian philosopher (with Michael Hardt) offers a detailed discussion on the project of Empire.[3] Negri’s notion of Empire is not to be confused with the medieval/ modern imperialism. It is not a military-imperial regime like the Roman Empire or the American Empire. Negri’s Empire signifies a post-globalized human condition where we see the free flow of capital, information, and technology. It signifies the uneven development of centre and the periphery countries and the irreversible gap between the rich and the poor. Empire, as Negri and Hardt described it, is an imaginative geography of globalization of world space, where boundless flow of capital, labor and information transcend the older imperialist order and yet at the same time plant the seeds of destruction and transformation of Empire.[4]  Empire has no territorial center of power and does not rely on any territorial boundaries. As Negri explains, Empire “is a decentered and deterritorializing apparatus of rule that progressively incorporates the entire global realm within its open, expanding frontiers.”[5]  By managing hybridities, differences, and plural exchanges through modulating networks of power, Empire offers an imperial subjectivity for all of us whether we like it or not.
Empire is a “network power” that includes the dominant nation-states, trans-national institutions, capitalist corporations and other powers in a hierarchical order. In the imperial network of power or global governance, not all powers are equal. It is a contradictory system of inequality and hierarchies.  However, all partners in this system maintain the order intact to keep up their position within.  It is not a peaceful coexistence of cultures, economies, and politics; rather, it is a coexistence of war. Empire exists by creating the state of war or conflict within and without.  Empire is a war-centered mechanism. War in Empire is not necessarily about military action; rather, it is the biopolitical act of “producing and reproducing” of the subjects.[6]   Negri and Hardt claim, therefore, that when “life itself is put on center stage, then war becomes properly ontological.”[7]  It is this ontological war situation that sanctions the suspension of democracy.
Empire is a political ontology. As a constituting power, Empire has no exteriority. It is an ontology which has no outside.  Empire is a condition in which all of us are located within. There is no “outside” or “escape.” Both domination and resistances are located within a unified space. Resistance does not exceed the boundary of Empire; it happens within the boundary of the Empire. As Negri rightly points out, terrorism is not to deny Empire but to control Empire. This doesn’t mean inertia or the end of resistance. Negri prefers the word “exodus” of the mass immigrations and the need to do away with borders.[8] It is the process of doing away with borders that invokes a new global democracy of Multitude. In order to resist the biopower of the Empire, Negri proposes the theory of Multitude as a radical, anti-imperial, political subjectivity that resists Empire from within.     
According to Negri, Multitude is the living alternative that grows within Empire. In Negri’s perspective, there are two types of globalization: (1) Empire that spreads globally its network of hierarchies and divisions that maintain order through new mechanisms of control and constant conflict and (2) new circuits of cooperation and collaboration that stretch across nations and continents and allow an unlimited number of encounters.[9]   is the latter gives rise to the possibility of living in common and acting together while remaining different.  For Negri, Multitude is an open network—life in common.  “Common” is not homogeneity but alterity and difference.  Unlike the concept of “people” which is unitary and identitarian, Multitude is many.[10]  Multitude is composed of many “irreducible singularities” of cultures, races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations.  Thus Multitude is many-colored.   It goes beyond the category of class.  It is a new concept of people that even transcends the category of proletariat. The proletariat or the working class refers to all waged workers, separating them from the poor, unpaid domestic laborers, all the traditional workers who do not receive a wage.  Rather, Multitude is an inclusive concept.  The Multitude is thus composed potentiality of all the diverse agents of social production.   In the democracy of Multitude, the economic, cultural, and the social realms enacted together to envisage an alternative life in common.    Multitude offers a political ontology where the production of subjectivities is de-imperialized. As Negri argues, our struggles determine our subjectivities.[11]  In short, Multitude is the possibility to envisage a political democracy of “common” in the age of Empire as we are today in the multiple forms of local struggles for basic necessities of life: food, water, land, and human rights etc.—the “Commonwealth” of humanity.       
In their third book in this series,Commonwealth, Negri and Hardt propose a possible constitution for the “life in common.” Through the notion of Commonwealth, they propose a political project of the Multitude to initiate an ethics of democratic political action within and against Empire. Commonwealth articulates the anti-imperial social relations and institutional forms of a possible global democracy. It is a democracy that invites all to share and participate in the common, that is, the air, the water, the fruits of the soil, all nature’s bounty—the habitat of humanity.  Working on the theory of Multitude and Commonwealth, Michael Marder calls it “vegetal democracy.” For Marder, vegetal democracy is the “growing with (and the growing-up) of democracy [that] hinges on fostering the capacity to live the countless voices, and especially with the dispersed multiplicity of non-voices and non-identities, that target us both from within and from without: to fall apart in growing-with.”[12]  Hardt and Negri explain this vegetal sense of political subjectivity:
The notion of the common does not position humanity separate from nature, as either its exploiter or its custodian, but focuses rather on the practices of interaction, care, and cohabitation in a common world, promoting the beneficial and limiting the detrimental forms of the common. In the era of globalization, issues of maintenance, production and distribution of the common in both senses and in both ecological and socio-economic frameworks became increasingly central.[13]
With Commonwealth, Negri and Hardt conclude the trilogy begun with Empire and continued in Multitude, proposing an ethics of freedom for living in our common world and articulating a possible constitution for radical democracy in the context of Empire. It is an invitation to search for a political subjectivity which is ontologically connected to the politics of the Multitude. To fight against Empire is to search for a life in common—the habitat of humanity, the Commonwealth. Does this notion of Commonwealth or the life in common imply a radical ecclesiology in the contemporary context of Empire?
Exposing the trajectory of the conviviality between Church and Empire, Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza offers a theological treatise on the anti-imperial ecclesiology in her incredible work—The Power of the Word: Scripture and the Rhetoric of Empire.  In this book, as we have seen in the Negri’s theory of Multitude and Commonwealth, Fiorenza speaks about the church as a political space—”the radial democracy of equals.” [14] The radical democracy of Fiorenza is the ekklesia of wo/men which offers the language and space for the imagination to develop a public religious discourse, “wherein justice, participation, difference, freedom, equality and solidarity set the ethical conditions.”[15] Fiorenza, contra the kyriarchal model of the Empire, defines church as a radical political space where the logic of domination and subordination is denied and equality and justice for all is affirmed.  As Giorgio Agamben rightly analyzed, the Church in history inherited an imperial model especially in the post-Constantine period.[16] Alluding to Paul, Agamben contends that by claiming itself as the kingdom of God or the divinely legitimized Empire, the Church denied its call (klesis) to be paroikousa (sojourner) and ended up as katoikein (to dwell like an empire). When the Church becomes a sovereign power of rule and its liturgies become the celebration of the sovereign God, the calling of the Church is nullified and reversed. The Church as a sovereign power defines its ontology unrelated to the excluded and the marginalized. Here the marginality is legitimized within and accommodated strategically. In the historical trajectory of the formation of ecclesiology, the theology of the economy of salvation (Oikonomia) helped it to overcome this ontological crisis “mysteriously” (sacramentum).[17] Here, we need to assess the epistemological trajectory of the Oikonomia (the economy of salvation) out of which the theology of the Trinity and Ecclesiology has been formulated.  
II.               Ecclesiology with(out) Margins: Defining Church in the Context of Empire

Marginality signifies a contingent social location which is neither inside nor outside of the system; rather it locates itself in the “in-between” space.[18] However, the Western logic of “Oneness” otherwise called “Hegelian Ontology” has succeeded in accommodating this “othered” social location within itself as a “transcendent Other” or “exterior Other.” Following the Frankfurt School philosophers, the postmodern philosophers of “hyper transcendentalism,” especially the continental philosophers such as Jean-Luc Marion, Immanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida, engaged with the “Hegelian Ontology” in a deconstructive manner without challenging the transcendent legitimizing point—the determining factor in Western metaphysics and ontology.[19]    

The Western theological tradition has always been transcendentalist and in turn it has exteriorized its “missiological Other” from the very being of God. Through the notions of Oikoumene and Oikonomia, it was able to manage its “exterior Other” within itself as an “extended Other” or a “transcendent Other.” The early church fathers attempted to manage the dilemma of marginality by delineating their logic of Trinity. Through the logic of Trinity, they were able to accommodate the Other within by keeping the notion of the sovereign God intact.  The notion of the sovereign God was indispensable for legitimizing the early totalitarian political systems in the West. As Laurel C. Schneider argues, through the notions of “economic trinity” and “immanent trinity,” the early church had legitimized the sovereignty of God. According to Schneider, the theology of Trinity that re-instates the idea of monotheism is foundational for the colonial “missiological outreaches” in the history of modern missionary movement.[20] Concepts like relational unity, conciliar unity and mystical unity presupposes the One, the singular, the sovereign, the Absolute God behind everything. Whether it is Tillichian “Ground of Being” or Marion’s “God without being,” the logic of “Oneness” has always been foundational for the Western theological tradition.  The logic of “Oneness,” whether it is theological or ecclesiological has always been political. However, the contemporary postcolonial epistemological context demands a deconstruction of the logic of “Oneness” and envisages the theology of “manyness” or the theo-politics of Multitude in order to signify theology of Church in the contemporary context of Empire.  
Following the epistemological tradition of the “Hegelian Totality” and the Marxian dialectics, Latin American liberation theology signified the question of marginality as a critical hermeneutical point of theology in the post-enlightenment period. Liberation theology problematized this “state of exclusion” and tried to overcome the dialectics between the “center” and the margin by empowering the marginalized. The problem with their conception of the “state of exception” is that they tried to fix the marginality as an essentialist and identitarian position which always tries to become part of the oppressive structure dialectically. Hegelian dialectics is located within a totality which remains as the foundation for liberation theologies. In the method of praxis of liberation theology, the dialectics of the “included” and the “excluded” remains intact and the marginality is being accommodated within the logic of totality/Oneness/Oikonomia.  Unlike the colonial logic of Western theology, for liberation theology the “other” is nothing but the “transcendent Other” who eludes the system of oppression by its exteriority and thus pretends to be the annihilator of the hegemonic system, but in effect remains a dialectical partner that sustains the political program of “salvation.” This is well evident in the notion of the transcendent/sovereign God of liberation theology.
However, for postcolonial theology, marginality is not a fixed “othered” identity, and hence it does not lament over its exclusion from the system nor does it wait eagerly for its incorporation into the system.  Rather, it is a rhetorical point where it resists both the process of othering and the process of fixation of its “given” location of marginality.  The category of marginality is being used in postcolonial theology to denote the point of encounter, exchange, and engagement “in between.” As Mayra Rivera comments, marginality is an alluring, enigmatic, and contestatory space where the transcendence touches human flesh.[21]  For Rivera, marginality is the site of the “strange encounter” where the divine flesh and the human flesh come to its relationality and differentiality. Here, the Western Omni God is critiqued and placed in relationality, fluidity and multiplicity.  Rivera offers a postcolonial theology of God who asks us to feel the touch of transcendence in every human encounter at the site of marginality which is always “in-between.” In the same vein of thought, Catherine Keller alludes to the notion of God as relational, embodied and multiple in contrast to the Western Christian notion of the Omni God.[22] Critiquing the Western self-enclosed deity, which sanctions all kinds of hegemonic power structures, Keller defines God in terms of ever-creating fluidity and multiplicity that substantiates the “irreducible singularities” of being and becoming. Put differently, the Western logic of “Oneness,” emerging from the theology of Omni-God, positions the site of marginality as its “transcendent Other,” and thereby offers its “gift of salvation” to its Other.  
The logic of “manyness” on the other hand relocates marginality in its “irreducible singularity.” The logic of “manyness” does not promote an anarchical pluralism; rather it is an experience of “multiplicity” which cannot be “subtracted” to One.  Deleuze and Guattari speak about a “pure multiplicity” which is not derived from the One, but is something “from which the One is always subtracted.”[23] They call it rhizome. Looking at the bunch of roots of the plant, they say, “Look at the plant which is not the One.”[24] The logic of “manyness” or “Multiplicity” dismantles the logic of “Oneness” and elucidates “plurisingularities” of being and becoming. The logic of “manyness” or Multiplicity, of course, offers a common realm of being and becoming but it is always fluid, relational, and internally differential. Deleuze calls it chaosmosis.[25] The Church is challenged here to re-imagine the positioning of marginality with respect to its soteriological end. There is no such marginality which is eagerly waiting to be empowered and uplifted. Marginality is no more a site of the “outreach programs” of the Church; it is not an othered space of diakonia. Rather, it is the rhetorical space that reconstitutes the being and the becoming of the Church. This is the challenge before the radical ecclesiology to deconstruct its “Eurocentric” theological and administrative frameworks and to recognize that its theology of God or mission or ethics have never been innocent and apolitical.
The logic of “manyness” or the theology of Multitude envisages radical political practices, which in turn, reformulate the contemporary ecclesiology. Marginality evokes a “politics of multitudes”[26] through which the logic and discourses of the Empire are being interrogated and a people-centered social democratic engagement is being re-imagined. Marginality as the site of Multitude demands a counter economy, theology, and political practices that nullify the logic of “One world” propagated by neo-colonization and globalization. Marginality as the political site interrogates the logic (law) of (infinite) justice through which the powerful nations legitimize their war on their “political others.” Achille Mbembe calls the politics of Empire necropolitics—the political process of the material destruction of human bodies and population in the name of (infinite) justice.[27]  Marginality is nothing but the point of reconfiguration of our political life itself. For Giorgio Agamben, the politics of marginality is an experience of bare life—people live outside of the territory of laws of immigration, nationality and citizenship which reconfigure the notions of state, law and justice.[28] Catherine Malabou, while correlating the politics of marginality with the notion of plasticity envisages a radical politics of body.[29] For Malabou, marginality as plasticity signifies a materialist theology of life that problematizes the material destruction of human bodies and populations. Here, marginalized is not just the “exterior other” so that they can be soteriologically retrieved; rather it is the embodied matter that makes even a “enmattered” God matters to theology, mission and politics.
1.      Church with(out) Margins: M.M. Thomas and New Humanity
Among the Indian Christian theologians, it was M.M. Thomas who proposed an authentic political ecclesiology on the basis of his theology of the crucified God—a God who denies its own sovereign ontology to nullify the rule of the Roman Empire—in the postcolonial Indian context.  We find a theoretical and theological connectivity between M.M. Thomas and Negri on the project of formulating a political theology of Church on the basis of his theology of humanization and the socio-political vision of the New Humanity in Jesus Christ. The New Humanity theology of M.M. Thomas and his understanding of salvation as humanization demand further reading and re-articulation in order to search for a radical ecclesiology in the contemporary context of Empire.
Thomas argues that on the cross, Jesus Christ disarmed the rulers and the authorities of the world. The empire is defeated and nullified. According to Thomas, Jesus’s cross is a protest against the sovereignty of the Roman Empire and the act of crucifixion was to nullify its logic of domination and marginalization. Replacing a political victim on the cross itself exemplifies Jesus’s political identification and embodiment. Jesus’s cross signifies the end of the totalitarian power and the beginning of a new community—kingdom community—a universal community where there is no dichotomies. In the new community, “there is no longer any distinction between gentiles and Jews, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarians, savages, slaves and free; but Christ is all and in all” (Col.3:11). The new human community is constituted as a single body—the body of the crucified God in history. The crucified body of Christ is not a new thing; rather it is the body of the slain lamb from the creation of the world and it continues to be slain till the end of the world fighting against the totalitarian forces of powers. The mark of crucifixion continues to be the sign of the suffering struggle of God against the principalities and powers till the end of the world.  The mission of the Church today is to embody this mark of crucifixion and to reconstitute its ontology in solidarity with the victims of the world.
According to Thomas, the Church is entrusted with a prophetic diakonia to discharge its duty based on the servanthood exemplified by the crucified God. Thomas writes: “The church in India is called to proclaim the gospel of the crucified and risen Christ as the source of redemption of all spiritualties underlying religion as well as ideologies, and to demonstrate the Koinonia in Christ around the Eucharist as the nucleus of a movement of the larger Koinonia in Christ uniting peoples of diverse religions, ideologies and cultures—as well as the cosmos with its bio-diversity.”[30]   Based on his theology of cross, M. M. Thomas explains the features of the mission of the church in India: (1) the calling of the church is to resist the idolatry of power and wealth and other gods of death in India’s collective life, (2) to be in solidarity with the poor and the oppressed in their struggle for justice, and (3) to give up communal self-interest and self-identity for the sake of creating in India a secular national community in the midst of India’s religious and ideological pluralism through manifesting a fellowship in Christ, transcending class, caste, ethnic and religious communal divisions.[31]   Thomas’s definition of the New Humanity and the signification of church as the Secular Koinonia reverberates with Negri’s political theory of Multitude. The theology of becoming Church with the mark of crucifixion in the contemporary world of Empire signifies that M. M. Thomas is in the process of formulating a radical ecclesiology in India.
Thomas’s theology of humanization through which he upholds as the hope of the future of humanity makes him so significant among the contemporary political theoreticians of Multitude. Thomas finds the foundation for his eschatological anthropology in the theology of Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, as the first fruits of the New Creation. Thomas’s hope in the future of humanity is incorporated in his understanding of the Risen Christ and His coming. He cites Paul: “We await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all to himself” (Phil.3:20-21). Becoming the tortured body of Christ, the Church is being composed and constituted as a Multitude to resist the logic of Empire theologically, liturgically, and hermeneutically. It is this call and the composition of the Church to be and becoming Multitude only signifies its relevance in the contemporary context of Empire.  Here, Thomas remains optimistic unlike the other contemporary political thinkers. Thomas’s political theology of humanization is closely linked to his Christology and eschatology through which he affirms and retains the significance of the composition of the Church.
2.     Church with(out) Margins: Giorgio Agamben and “Coming Community”
Engaging with the Pauline corpus, Giorgio Agamben, the Italian philosopher, offers an extended discussion on the “calling” (kletos) of the Church. It is a calling that calls back or revokes every other vocation. According to Agamben, the calling of the Church is a call for a messianic vocation that revokes all other vocations in the context of the reign of the emperor.  For him, the Church is a “messianic community” that lives in  messianic time.[32] Messianic time, as it is well explained in the Pauline corpus, is the time that remains—the time in-between the ascension and parousia. It is the time that remains in-between Church and kingdom of God—the time the ekklesia takes to come to its end. End time, thus is not a futuristic time; rather, ir ia a qualitative “now”—the time of redemption within the present time.[33] Agamben defines Church as a “coming community” that locates itself in a “state of exception”—the site of the marginalized and the excluded and thereby envisages political ontology.
By “coming community” or “the community that comes”, Agamben means a community of those who have no community. It is a community of people who are being “excluded in” or “included out” in the sovereign political paradigm. It is a community that cannot be co-opted by totalitarian forces. Or it is a community where the sovereign law is being inactivated.  It is the community of the de-imperialized subjectivities.  Agamben finds this sense of inoperability of the logic of Empire in the cross of Christ. First and foremost, the cross signifies the inoperability of the biopolitics of sovereignty and offers a radical politics of community by replacing himself on the cross in the place of a political victim in the Roman imperial context.  In his reading Paul, Agamben comments that the calling of the Church is to “enslave” itself to this Messiah who becomes weak for the most wretched of the earth.[34]  For Agamben, Church is called to be an ontology of the marginalized—the Multitude.        
The Church as a “coming community” embodies the messianic politics through which it takes a turn from liturgy to politics.  It is through messianic politics that the Church becomes part of the democratic process that challenges the contemporary socio-political and economic sovereign powers. It is through messianic politics that the Church re-invents its ontology in relation to “social ontology.” Defining politics as a “social ontology,” Chantal Mouffe says that “the political cannot be restricted to a certain type of institution, or envisioned as constituting a specific sphere or level of society. It must be conceived as a dimension that is inherent to every human society and that determines our very ontological condition.”[35] Church as a “coming community” envisages a “social ontology” that challenges the exclusionary practices of the sovereign power and embodies the agonistic politics of the excluded and exempted in our democratic process. It is the messianic politics that signifies church in the contemporary socio-economic and political context of Empire. It is the messianic politics that makes redemption happens in the day-to-day political life of the people.
The Church as a “coming community” shares the social ontology with the excluded people—the Multitude. According to Negri and Hardt, the politics of Multitude envisage a radical democracy which is not based on sovereignty. Multitude functions as a virtual multiplicity. It is the power to create social relationships in common.[36]  It is a radical notion of democracy which is contrary to unitary, absolute, totalitarian democracy. It is a celebration of multiplicity, relationality, plasticity. Multitude does not mean the unity in diversity or commonality between units; rather, it is a shared solitude—a set of relationship without a single essence.  M.M. Thomas calls it the New Humanity. The Church in the age of Empire cannot but embody the politics of Multitude. The contemporary people movements such as land struggles, struggle for the preservation of life resources, anti-nuclear movement, anti-war movements, women’s movement, dalit resistances, the political movements of refugees etc., appear before the Church not as diaconal spaces but as the kenotic spaces through which the Church finds itself as the church of the Multitude. Edward Schillebeeckx is absolutely right when he says that what we need today is a negative ecclesiology:
We need a bit of negative ecclesiology, church theology in a minor key,                             in order to do away with centuries-long ecclesiocentrism                                                     of the empirical phenomenon of “Christian religion”: for the sake of God,                        for the sake of Jesus the Christ and for the sake of humanity.[37]                                                                                                                                            

In the contemporary context, Empire in India takes many forms—cultural, economic, political, and religious.  The logic of Empire intrudes into the every aspect of human life. It denies our rights to food, clothing, study and belief. A piece of beef is more expensive than a human life today. There is no security for a dalit, woman, transgender in the public spaces. Religion has become the ideology of hatred. The power politics smell death. The economy of the Empire is nothing but the “economy of suicide” that demands that farmers sacrifice their life for development.   The cultural, religious, and linguistic minorities are in anxiety and fear. Dalits are termed “anti-nationals.” Intolerance constitutes the public life. On the other hand, the national elites, the multinational corporations, the international nuclear regimes, find home in India. Yoga, which never has been a political resource to challenge the casteist, patriarchal, and the elitist social setting in India, has now been projected as the mantra of global peace and unity. It is being done in the political context where the beef-eating is banned and the indigenous cultural rights are saffronized. This cultural-religious-economic logical nexus legitimizes a multifaceted sovereign political power which has no single point of performance. This logic of Empire penetrates into the brains and veins of the “citizens.” Citizens really do not know where to practice this logic or when to deny it. The democratic communities in India have to be more conscious about the biopolitics of the Empire—the imperialist formation of subjectivity. The notions of state, democracy and the people are being transformed in favor of the global Empire. The Church in India is not spared this biopolitics. This is evident in the silence of the Indian Church in the contemporary context of violence, violations and death.   
The challenge before the Church in India today is not just to offer its “given” salvation experience to the world around; rather, it is to experience the fragments of salvation in this world by becoming the ontology of the Multitude. For Giorgio Agamben, it is an act of retreat for the Church to “inoperate” its inherent juridical structure and to become a “coming community”—a community which is a community of those who have no community. The radical ecclesiology challenges the Church to realize its call to become a political community of the Multitude in the context of Empire. The contemporary radical ecclesiology demands, as M.M. Thomas puts it, a kenotic experience for the Church’s being and becoming New Humanity in Christ. New Humanity or the secular Koinonia or the Multitude in Christ to which the Church is called to witness is the hope of the world in the context of Empire. Radical ecclesiology is a call within the call of the Church to become a “weak church” of the Crucified God by becoming the body of the crucified people “now”. 

* Rev. Dr. Y.T. Vinayaraj is professor of Christian theology at the Dharma Jyoti Vidya Peeth, Faridabad and the Nav Jyoti Post-Graduate and Research Centre (NJPGRC), New Delhi.

[1] Kim Yong-Bok, “Asian Quest for Jesus in the Global Empire,” Madang 1/2 (2004):2.
[2] Giorgio Agamben, The Coming Community, trans. M. Hardt (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 1-2.
[3] Antonio Negri & Michael Hardt, Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), xii.
[4] Antonio Negri & Michael Hardt, Empire, 137.
[5] Antonio Negri & Michael Hardt, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), xiii.
[6] Antonio Negri & Michael Hardt, Multitude, 13.

[7] Antonio Negri & Michael Hardt, Multitude, 19.
[8] Antonio Negri & Michael Hardt, Multitude, 156.
[9] Antonio Negri & Michael Hardt, Multitude, xiii.
[10] Antonio Negri & Michael Hardt, Multitude, xvii.
[11] Antonio Negri & Michael Hardt, Multitude, 197.
[12] Michael Marder, “Vegetal Democracy: The Plant that is not One” in Politics of the One : Concepts of the One and Many in Contemporary Thought, ed.  Artemy Magun (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013), 128.

[13] Antonio Negri & Michael Hardt, Commonwealth (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), viii.
[14] Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, The Power of the Word: Scripture and the Rhetoric of Empire (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007).
[15] Adriana Hernandez, Pedagogy, Democracy, and Feminism: Rethinking the Public Sphere (New York: State University of New York Press, 1997), 31.
[16] Giorgio Agamben, The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government, trans. Lorenzo Chiesa with Matteo Mandarini (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011), 104-105.
[17]Giorgio Agamben, The Kingdom and the Glory, 37-38.  
[18] For a detailed study of this point, see ‘Ecumenism and Marginality’ in Y.T. Vinayaraj, Intercessions: Theology, Liturgy, and Politics (New Delhi: ISPCK, 2015), 83-95.
[19] Of course, there is an epistemological difference between the Frankfurt School philosophers and the postmodern-Continental philosophers. However, many scholars especially the post-Continental and postcolonial thinkers have pointed out that there is an epistemological continuity in them in terms of their foundation on Transcendence. A detailed discussion of this point is beyond the focus of this essay. For a detailed study see, Y.T. Vinayaraj, Intercessions: Liturgy, Politics and Theology (New Delhi: ISPCK, 2015). 
[20] Laurel C. Schneider, Beyond Monotheism: A Theology of Multiplicity (London: Routledge, 2008).

[21] Mayra Rivera, The Touch of Transcendence: A Postcolonial Theology of God (Louisville: WJK, 2007).

[22] Catherine Keller, Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming (London and New York: Routledge, 2003).

[23] Gilles Deleuze and F Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 32.

[24] Gilles Deleuze and F Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 21.

[25] Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition (New York: Columbia, 1994), 299.

[26] Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (New York: Penguin Press, 2004).

[27] Achille Mbembe “Necropolitics,” in Public Culture 15, no. 1 (2003) 11-40.

[28] Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press), 2005
[29] Catherine Malabou, Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing: Dialectic, Destruction, Deconstruction, trans. Carolyn Shread (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009).
[30] M.M. Thomas, A Diaconal Approach to Indian Ecclesiology (Rome & Tiruvalla: CIIS & CSS, 1995), 82.
[31]M.M. Thomas, “The Church in India—Witness to the Meaning of the Cross Today,” in Future of the Church in India, ed. Aruna Gnanadason (Nagpur: NCCI, 1990), 11.

[32] Giorgio Agamben, The Coming Community, 1-2.
[33] Giorgio Agamben, The Time That Remains: A Commentary on the Letter to the Romans. Patricia Dailey, trans. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005), 6-7.
[34] Giorgio Agamben, The Church and the Kingdom (London, New York, Calcutta: Seagull Books, 2012), 13
[35] Chantal Mouffe, The Return of the Political (New York: Verso, 2005), 3.
[36] M. Hardt and Antonio Negri, The Multitude (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), 100.
[37] Edward Schillebeeckx, Church: The Human Story of God (New York: Crossroad, 1994), xix.