Item description for Character of Theology, The: An Introduction to Its Nature, Task, and Purpose by John R. Franke...
Overview Theology done in today's context is strikingly different from past evangelical approaches. In this new project John Franke, writing with our postmodern world in mind, reflects these directions. He offers an introduction to theology that covers the usual territory, but does so attuned to today's ecclesial and cultural context. In contradistinction to more traditional works, Franke: - critiques traditional evangelical theological conceptions - emphasizes the "local" nature of theology - engages the postmodern context - contrasts conservative and postconservative approaches - interacts with the broader faith community Sure to provoke intense discussion, The Character of Theology will help Christians to be faithful in a world in which the spiritual and intellectual landscape is ever changing.
Publishers Description Theology done in today's context is strikingly different from past evangelical approaches. In this new project John Franke, writing with our postmodern world in mind, reflects these directions. He offers an introduction to theology that covers the usual territory, but does so attuned to today's ecclesial and cultural context. In contradistinction to more traditional works, Franke: - critiques traditional evangelical theological conceptions - emphasizes the "local" nature of theology - engages the postmodern context - contrasts conservative and postconservative approaches - interacts with the broader faith community Sure to provoke intense discussion, "The Character of Theology" will help Christians to be faithful in a world in which the spiritual and intellectual landscape is ever changing.
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John R. Franke (D.Phil., University of Oxford) is associate professor of theology and chair of the faculty at Biblical Theological Seminary. He is the coauthor of Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in a Postmodern Context and editor of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Samuel in the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series.
Reviews - What do customers think about Character of Theology, The: An Introduction to Its Nature, Task, and Purpose?
The Character of Theology Oct 25, 2006
This book is one of the text for my introduction to theology class. The contents of this book reminds me of the religious groups when Christ appeared from the Inter test mental period. The language used by the author has a context of its own and way above my head. If you are an academic theologian who gets the thrill of being equipped to debate and defend the christian faith, then this book is for you. If you are a person who want to make theology local and deal with making a change in your community, I recommend "Doing Local Theology" by Sedmak. It gives you a better understanding what is the action of Theology. As one who had the privelege to listen to Dr. Franke in person, he presents a much different "down to earth presentation, speaking my language Theologian". If you have to use this text for your course, may I offer hope. As in the words of Dr. Franke, his purpose for the high level of lingistics to:"Be committed to the biblical story and able to articulate it to people around us. We must be open to other Christians in other context, so they can help you see your blind spots." 1)Get a pocket theological dictionary, 2)learn what is "foundationalism and non-foundationalism, 3)start at page 165, to get the gist of what his agenda is in this writing, 4)take and chew on the material a little at a time and don't be in a hurry. 5)Oh don't forget to pray, you will need some divine intervention, if you are weak like me. He's very strong about getting away from Individualism and as a body of Christ, learning to articulate the same message and stop tearing down those who have a love for God, even Catholics.
Great perspective on an important topic Jul 9, 2006
I agree with most of the comments of one of the other reviewers, particularly the difficulties with the authority of scripture (if one context cannot speak into another, how does God communicate?) Franke's answer seems to be through the Spirit but this doesn't seem to solve the problem of why the Spirit needs the Scripture at all. There is a lot of overlap between this book and "Beyond Foundationalism" by Franke and the late Stanley Grenz, sometimes almost verbatim overlap. I also agree Franke's critique does not have the depth of Vanhoozer (my personal favorite), Jamie Smith or Wesphal (all great authors to check out, by the way, if this book whets your appetite).
It spite of these weaknesses, the book is an excellent critique of modern foundationalism and its influence on the evangelical church. While it may be hard to find a "classic foundationalist" anywhere at all (and Franke's critique is of classical foundationalism and in that sense Franke is battling windmills instead of dragons, since most foundationalists are of the softer variety), he does make some strong points. Knowledge is transmitted from context to context, it seems to be impossible for it to be impartial. He also makes a strong point about evangelicals having a tendency to treat the Bible as "a collection of propositions" ready to be analyzed and from that analysis a collection of principles derived by which we live. It does seem as though there are other ways of communicating truth other than propositionally (for example narrative, poetry, metaphor) and that most communication of knowledge will somehow be tainted by the context from which it comes and the context to which it goes.
While I find this critique compelling, as was mentioned by the other reviewer, Franke's solution does seem weak. Basically, the Bible becomes the "norming norm" by which we judge all of our actions and we decipher the meaning of the Bible (coming from one context to another) through the Holy Spirit. While claiming Reformation thought as the inspiration for this solution, it does seem more like experientialism to me. First, why have the Bible at all, surely if the Holy Spirit is the only active element in knowing the truth of Scripture he could speak to us us as easily through Zane Grey or Superman Action comic #1. Franke fails to develop a reason that scripture is necessary. Second, the history of Protestantism is fragmentation based on varying interpretations of scripture and this view of Scripture would seem to promote further disintegration of the church rather than unity. Third, while distinct communities are healthy, I don't know if he proves that distinctly Christian communities are necessary. His view of orthodoxy is very broad but I wonder how difficult it would be, using his logic, to accept a distinctly non-Orthodox community as one that embodies truth and defines it within its own community. So if each individual community defines its own truth within its own context, why is a Christian community necessarily right while a non-Christian one not?
In spite of these caveats (and many more I haven't time to discuss), I still highly recommend this book. I think Franke raises issues that will be critical to the church in the coming decades and much of this thought mirrors that of the emerging church which is growing in influence. My advice is to read it critically and also, if your interest in piqued, take a look at some of the other authors mentioned earlier for a deeper look at these issues. You might also look at some of the works of Lindbeck (post-liberal) and Horton (reformed).
Amazing book Oct 31, 2005
John's latest book, strikes out from where that text left off, although John suggests it is more of a prequel, and it is much easier to read. It's slim at 200 pages, and set to become another key text for people wanting to understand theology in a post-modern context.
What I love about the book, is that John put's himself into it, theology is part of his journey and story, this is not esoteric academics, but someone who has been trying to make sense of his own questions and those of his students in the real world.
So if like John you value your evangelical heritage, appreciate the process the reformers undertook, and want to engage meaningfully with our post-modern context, this is the book for that. I love John's sub title, for the book, 'A Post-conservative evangelical approach'.