The vocabulary of soteriology has been applied by theologians to the contemporary realities of the nation-state, capitalism, consumerism, and globalization. The basic case is that the political arrangements that have arisen out of the modern nation-sate have an intrinsically soteriological pretension built into them. The modern nation-state, and the market of global capitalism that has emerged from it are here to “save” us. And chiefly, of course the modern nation-state is here to save us from that fanatical practice that is religion!
Following William Cavanaugh and others who have taken this tack in critiquing the modern nation-state, I would agree that a theological narration of globalization and consumerism through the lens of soteriology is indeed possible, and I would add essential for the church today. The current realities of globalization, consumerism and visual media are best understood theologically as the embodiment of a false soteriologybuilt upon a pseudo-theology falsely masquerading as a “secular”, “neutral” reality. These global realties, driven as they are by their false soteriology seek to subvert any social body which would claim to embody an alternative vision of human redemption. It is in this context that these global forces have sought – and largely achieved – the fragmentation and compromise of the church.
The soteriology of global consumerism is in large part the culmination of the project of the modern nation-state in which the soteriology of global consumerism had its genesis. This soteriology centers around two key foci, that are, I would argue, parodies of central elements of the church and its narrative. These parodies are embodied by (1) the displacement of Christ in favor of a messianically conceived nation-state and (2) a totalizing global market economy in place of the church catholic. Corresponding to this, the three central practices of the church, the radical reorientation of life brought about in baptism, the sustaining consumption of the Eucharist and the proclamation of the Word are replaced with allegiance to the nation-state, consumerism and the indoctrinating word of propaganda through pervasive visual media.
I think it would be helpful to examine precisely how these parodies take place in contemporary culture. Is the contemporary political configuration in the West truly a simulacra of the body of Christ. How is allegiance to the nation-state (patriotism) a parody of baptism? How is consumerism a parody of the Eucharist? How is the ubiquious nature of visual media and propaganda parody of Christian proclamation of the Word? Doe these correspondences hold up under scrutiny? I invite any comments on this.