Theology done in today's context is strikingly different from past evangelical approaches. In this new project, John Franke, writing with our post-modern 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, this book will help Christians to be faithful in a world in which the spiritual and intellectual landscape is ever changing.
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Review 1 for The Character of Theology: An Introduction to Its Nature, Task and Purpose
Date:October 16, 2008
In this introduction to the endeavor of theology, Franke aims to outline a program that will prove sensitive to postmodern emphases as well as the mission of the church. He highlights what he considers the key dimensions of the theological enterprise (e.g., its second-order, ongoing nature, its critical and constructive responsibilities) and proceeds to unpack them throughout the book. I think we all can appreciate Franke's commitment to Christian orthodoxy as well as his insistence on theology being done for the sake of the church and its mission. Yet I do have significant reservations about his approach to theology. In particular, he insists on viewing human conceptual frameworks and language as "world-constructing." He does so without really explaining whether or not this removes all possibility of genuine cognitive access to reality. In addition, it is difficult to harmonize his views with metaphysical realism (belief in mind-independent reality) and theological realism (belief in the mind-independent existence of God). This, I think, is the most troubling feature of the book. Nevertheless, Franke is an influential thinker and for that reason I recommend that this book be on thoughtful Christians' reading lists.