As I read Stanley Grenz and John Franke’s book (Beyond Foundationalism), two things struck me. The first being the understanding that postmodernism is not simply a philosophy that can be put on and off at will. Instead it is a culture and mindset that radically changes everything, from the questions asked to the way one sees truth and life. The second thing that struck me was the realization that, without knowing it, I had already traveled pretty far down the path outlined by the authors. This book helped placed my journey within the context of those around me.
A quick look at the one of the three main sources of theology, scripture, serves as an example of this understanding. Contrary to the way I was raised and the view of the majority of believers around me, I have come to the understanding that while the Bible is true, it does not contain all truth – but instead points towards the Truth (i.e. Jesus). In John 16:13, Jesus tells us that he would send the Holy Spirit to guide us “into all truth.” He did not say that he would leave a book!
The most challenging section of the book was the third part in which Grenz and Franke’s propose three focal motifs of theology. For the last seven months, I have been praying through a Celtic prayer book. One of things I have noticed about the prayers is their focus on the Trinity. At first this was very odd as I tended to think about the Trinity in a very linear way, separating each Member into different roles and functions. However, after reading Grenz and Franke’s book, I’ve come to the realization that the church at large needs to rethink its view of the Trinity. I’m not sure where this will lead, but I think it is worth pursuing.
In regards to community, I agree with most of what the authors said as I am a firm believer in the concept that the Christian walk is not individualistic, but is lived out in community. I love the quote in the book about the ultimate purpose of theology: “to assist the Christian community in its vocation to live as the people of God in the particular social-historical context in which they are situated” (127).
However, I disagree with the authors’ statement that community is the central motif of the Bible. I believe that the reign and rule of God is the central motif of the Bible as there must be a King (i.e. God) to follow before there can be a community of followers. The authors do raise some good questions concerning Kingdom Theology, which I will need to think about in further detail. It may be that both motifs, community and the Kingdom of God, are two sides of the same coin, intertwined to the point that they cannot be separated.
The last motif proposed by the authors is that of eschatology. In this, I agree wholeheartedly with the statements and concepts raised by the authors. The church must reclaim this term and concept from those who have made it into a dividing line splitting believers into different fragments. The entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, points to the Eschaton, which is Jesus Christ (Rv 1:17). We are a people moving towards and hoping for a renewed earth where God walks and dwells among His people forever.
At this point, I’m not sure how to apply these concepts in my ministry as the majority of people in my church are heavily rooted in the modern culture. On a personal level, though, I am sure that the Lord is going to continue to draw me down this path. I am not sure where it is going to lead, but I am willing to wrestle with the questions and follow His leading.