Item description for After Modernity What?: Agenda for Theology by Thomas C. Oden & J. I. Packer...
Overview This vigorous and incisive critique of modernity lights the path to recovering the revitalizing heritage of classical Christianity.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.52" Width: 5.52" Height: 0.56" Weight: 0.55 lbs.
Release Date Jan 28, 1992
Publisher Zondervan Publishing
ISBN 0310753910 ISBN13 9780310753919
Availability 0 units.
More About Thomas C. Oden & J. I. Packer
Thomas C. Oden (PhD, Yale) is Director of the Center for Early African Christianity at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania and Henry Anson Buttz Professor of Theology and Ethics at Drew University. He is an ordained Methodist minister and the author of many books, including The Rebirth of Orthodoxy: Signs of New Life in Christianity, How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity, Doctrinal Standards in the Wesleyan Tradition, and Classic Christianity. Dr. Oden is also the general editor for the widely-used Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series.
Born Thomas Clark Oden (October 21, 1931) he is most reknown for his work as an American United Methodist theologian and religious author. He was born in Altus, Oklahoma. He has a B.A. degree from the University of Oklahoma (1953), a B.D from Southern Methodist University (1956), an M.A. from Yale University (1958), and a Ph.D. from Yale University (1960).
Oden is best known as a proponent of paleo-orthodoxy, an approach to theology that often relies on patristic sources. He has published a series of books that he says are tools for promoting "classical Christianity." Oden suggests that Christians need to rely upon the wisdom of the historical Church, particularly the early Church, rather than on modern scholarship and theology, which is often, in his view, tainted by political agendas.
He has written, "The term paleo-orthodoxy is employed to make clear that we are not talking about neo-orthodoxy. Paleo- becomes a necessary prefix only because the term orthodoxy has been preempted and to some degree tarnished by the modern tradition of neo-orthodoxy" (Requiem, p. 130).
Oden says his mission is "to begin to prepare the postmodern Christian community for its third millennium by returning again to the careful study and respectful following of the central tradition of classical Christianity" (After Modernity...What?, p. 34). Oden is also active in the Confessing Movement in America, particularly within the United Methodist Church. He serves on the board of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
Thomas C. Oden has published or released items in the following series...
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture
Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching & Preaching
Reviews - What do customers think about After Modernity...What??
What is next? May 31, 2002
The word postmodern is thrown around quite a bit. Given the nature of this post-modern age, even the term postmodern is likely to have a variety of nuances. Oden provides one interpretation. This interpretation is that postmodernity allows for a return to classical orthodoxy, i.e. the Christianity of the first millennium. So for Oden, writers such as Gregory of Nyssa, Athanasius, and Clement are more important to Christian theology than recent theologians who attempt to construct "new" theology. Indeed Oden is correct in that modernity kept telling us what was "relevant" and what was not. We were constantly told what we could and could not believe, despite the fact that most modern peoples probably conceived of God `incorrectly.' Thus, modernity, with its promise of human progress, ended up seeming elitist and quite irrelevant.
Oden is not a fundamentalist. His tradition might be described as something of a conservative evangelical catholic. He critiques fundamentalism, pointing out (correctly) that fundamentalism is simply just another modern movement, that only could have come out of the Cartesian/Enlightenment era. Oden also critiques the more pietistic and ultra-liberal forms of Christianity, preferring an ecumenical consensual orthodoxy as explained by Vincent of Lerins, `that which has been everywhere and always and by everyone believed.' Thus Oden proposes a return to Orthodoxy grounded in the center, one that virtually every mainline denomination and classical Christian writers can affirm. Oden is not pre-modern though. He critiques those who claim to be pre-modern, asserting that such a claim is impossible. This is why postmodern `paleo-orthodox' Christians, such as Oden, embrace modern science, critical enquiry, etc.
Overall, I think Oden has written an excellent book. He critiques modernity's methods and assumptions, and (I believe) generally avoids falling into conservative error, by being grounded in the ancient orthodox Christian writers. I think the `Vincentian canon,' while certainly appealing, is doubtful as an actual historical reality. However, as a model, it is still useful, so long as we recognize its weaknesses (as Oden does). I took issue with Oden's distaste for Vatican II. Despite its weaknesses, it brought the Roman Catholic Church into the current age, and caused them to leave behind various late-medieval practices. Generally, this is a thought provoking book, and a good angle on the postmodern age for those of us grounded in the catholic tradition.
A good book for perspective Mar 16, 2002
After five years of soul searching Oden rejected liberalism and embraced the precepts of evangelical conservatism. In 1979 He first published this book under the title "Agenda for Theology." In this book he laid out his reasons for rejecting liberalism and the promises of modernity it held and began describing a new emerging postmodernity which he clearly differentiated from what he calls "ultramodernity" which so many other authors believe is postmodernism.
Oden lays down his reasons for becoming disenchanted with mainstream liberalism through the examination of where he has been in his own walk with the Lord. He presents a convincing agenda for theology which is the rediscovery of the teachings and precepts of the ancient church and the theologian's task to boil theology down to the pastoral office. Oden argues that it is the teaching office of the church which is the thumbtack, or linchpin, which holds the entire discipline of theology to those it hopes to serve. The importance of this office and the duties it is to perform needs to be rediscovered, he maintains, and the biblical role of the pastorate needs to recover its soul and spirit within the biblical precepts of its origin.
This book is a good read for anybody who wants to understand the collapse of modernism, the emergence of postmodernism, and the role that theology and theologians are supposed to fill within the church.
Since writing this book, Oden has been following through with the agenda for theologian's office which he first laid down in this book producing a fine series of books about the duties and responsibilities of the pastoral office; writing what may emerge as the best 20th century systematic theology; continuing to develop and articulate the emerging postmodern climate as an opportunity for the church rather than something to be feared (Two Worlds); all the while attempting to drag what has been called "an incurably liberal denomination," the UMC, back to the orthodox center.
If you want to learn about postmodernism, this book is your starting point.
Refreshing Return to Historical Christianity Aug 2, 2000
It's very pleasurable to see Historical Biblical truth honestly and forthrightly encountered stimulate such powerful thought and simultaneously refute bankrupt intellectual systems. See also Millard Erickson's "Postmodernism"; "Evangelical Interpretation"; "Evangelical Left" for a fuller evaluation of philosophical, theological and metaphysical systems that feebly try to go toe to toe with an evangelical hermeneutic of the Bible and crash and burn every time. The key is who wins the competition of preconceptions, premises, presuppositions and Control Beliefs with the most plausibility given the Biblical data and reality as experienced historically.
ODEN rejecting modernity? May 13, 2000
I was flabergasted to see that Thomas Oden was recommending a turn from Modernity. On the face of it, of course, his diagnoses are correct--deconstructive postmodernism is thinly-veiled ultramodernism, with its belief in relativistic autonomy which, rather than freeing one from the constraints of isolating Modernity, only serve to fragment and degrade the connections between peple, interpretations, and belief even further. All of this is well taken, though not completely the aim of Oden's book. But Charlene Spretnak noted the exact same thing in 1991 with her work, States of Grace, and HER solution to the problem was to turn to the wisdom traditions of the world religions in the premodern era to find a way out of such postmodernism. In other words, a constructive postmodernity, rather than a deconstructive postmodernity. In this, she seems to suggest teh same as Oden. Oden sees that premodern thought can be the way forward, but his method of appropriating this paradigm is patriarchal, selective, and informed by the same rationalist evangelical Reformed thought that is the primary victim/advocate of theological untramodernity today. In other words, what we have here is someone trapped in ultramodernity by his own intelligently held presuppositions looking backwards (and forward) to a premodern understanding of belief and cuture and saying, "Boy, that sure was nice." He romanticizes the premodern period, by seeing only its male, Western, Christian manifestation, in the same way that the Romantics looked back on the "noble savages of yore" and appropriated what they thought was good about them. This makes a mockery of the subject. Oden means Augustinian when he says premodern, and forgets that history is more than 2000 years old. There are other (and vastly older) paths winding trough premodernity, and other paths though premodern Christianity than the one that leads to Oden's door.
That said, in fairness he is suggesting a way forward for Christian theology, and it is not more than 2000 years old. However, many Christian theoligans see the premodern religious understandings of the mystics and the contemplatives as ways forward in our era, and thus are able to find more than Oden finds in the tradition. Oden is an epistemological exclusivist, and doesn't see that there are other ways to understand the Christian story besides his own historicist view.
Oden asks the right question, "what now," but Spetnak (for one) gives a better answer that Christians besides the Oden-flavored brand may be better able to appreciate.
Oden shows the way out of the ultramodern morass May 10, 2000
Thomas Oden presents a frontal attack on the modernism of which he used to be an avid proponent. In part one, he describes the fondness for the novel that characterized modernity - what he terms chronological snobbery. Modernism is still enchanted with the myth of progress. In its place, Oden advocates a postcritical paleo-orthodoxy, neither fundamentalist nor neo-orthodox, but a mature appreciation for the beauties of premodernism in the light of the failure of modernism. In part two, Oden engages in a critique of criticism, revealing the arrogance and quackery of the historical-critical experts. He also delineates the limits of such methodology, founded as it is upon the supposition of naturalism. He concludes the section with a call for renewed attention upon the pastoral and general epistles, long neglected by the moderns. Part three wraps up the book by portraying the liberation that accompanies an appreciation of tradition. No longer haunted by the need for innovation, the orthodox theologian can rest secure in a community of faith that extends back 2000 years. Oden is an excellent writer, very descriptive and expressive. He will hold your attention and keep you engaged with his vivid verbal illustrations. His paleo-orthodoxy does address some of the main faults of modernity and its postmodern relative, ultramodernity. With a repudiation of modernity's chronosnobbery, paleo-orthodoxy promises a rediscovery of the wealth of knowledge and piety which represents the best of Christian tradition. I think, though, that Oden does not realize the extent to which he still clings to modernity. He still cannot handle the premodern or paleo-orthodox acceptance of scripture at face value as inerrant. He is thoroughly modern in his view of science. He also clings to much of the destructive criticism of modernity. Toss in some multiculturalism/liberationism and it quickly becomes apparent that Oden is not the pure paleo-orthodox theologue he claims to be. The main idea is sound though.