We have entered into a strange new world of postmodernity. Putting new wine into old wineskin's is no longer viable. We need a new way forward both in our ecclesiology and our theology. Beyond Foundationalism provides that new way forward.
Over the next few weeks I'd like to try and blog my way through this immensely important book. The theological landscape has changed with the advent of postmodernity, and John Franke, and Stanley Grenz have written a masterful account of where theology has been, and where it must go.
Chapter one recounts the era of transition and ferment that exists in theological discourse due to the collapse of the categories and paradigms constructed in the era of the Enlightenment. With the collapse of Enlightenment epistemology, and the advent of the postmodern critique of modern certitude, theology is undergoing major transitions. We live in a world of fragmentation, where culture is shifting like sand in high swells. New categories, and theological pathways are being cleared by pioneers seeking to elucidate a theology that is both true to the norming norm of Scripture, and current with the changing culture.
In Beyond Foundationalism, Franke, and Grenz steer the ship towards a hope filled future in theology, one that is thoroughly postmodern, while holding on tightly to the truths of Scripture. Any conversation regarding the status of theology in our postmodern culture almost necessitates a defense against the slide into radical pluralism. There are those who view the theological task as a bounded set, and their job as patrolling the borders theology with guns drawn seeking to gun down any intruder. It is their perceived job to protect the interpretations of history as normative for all times and places. [History being almost exclusively a brief period of time in European history during the Reformation].
Franke and Grenz propose a new way forward that views theology not as a bounded set, but rather a centered set. They understand the formulations of past creedal confessions to be fallible much like all other human discourse, and provide the impetus for ongoing evaluation of such creeds. The work of God in the lives of believers takes the place of the doctrinal statements of history as the enduring essence of Christianity. To ask questions, and evaluate past systems of belief is not only Christian, it is a key to orthodoxy. Theology is a human response to the context, and history in which he is engaged. Man seeks to describe God and the work of God in a particular context, and it is for this reason that theology is fluid rather than stagnant.
Theology is a journey, a task to be taken by the faithful adherers of the Christian faith. It is an ongoing local, contextual, second-order task that serious Christians undertake to assist the Christian community of their time. We have neither arrived at the telos of theology, nor are we doomed to plunge into radical relativism. Rather we are on a journey with God in discovering his work in our world.