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A Is for Abductive Paperback – January 1, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0310243564 ISBN-10: 0310243564

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310243564
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310243564
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,153,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

A Is for Abductive B is for Body C is for Carpe Manana D is for Double-Ring E is for EPICtivities F is for Fractals G is for Grace H is for Holarchy I is for Icon J is for the J-Factor K is for Kaleidoscopic Change L is for Loopy M is for Metanarrative N is for Neurological Pre-Rewirings O is for Open-Endedness P is for Prayer Q is for Quest-ions R is for Radical Orthodoxy S is for Systems Theology T is for Tribal U is for Unknown V is for Voice W is for Wonder X is for Xenophilia Y is for Yes! Z is for Zending

Do You Know the Postmodern Alphabet?

The letters are all the same, but the things they stand for are as different as the future is from the past. A Is for Abductive helps you get a handle today on the vocabulary of tomorrow, and on concepts indispensable for living out the old-fashioned gospel in these newfangled times.

"You caused this book," writes one of the authors. "People like you were insisting on a beginner’s guide to the pathway of postmodern ministry." Here it is. There is no right or wrong place to begin—just pick a letter and start reading. You’ll acquire new words for a new world that will change how you think about church, about ministry, and about what it means to follow in Jesus’ footsteps—entering today’s culture in order to love it, serve it, and lead it home to God.

About the Author

Leonard Sweet (PhD, University of Rochester) holds the E. Stanley Jones chair at Drew University. Founder and president of SpiritVenture Ministries, he also serves as a distinguished visiting professor at George Fox University, and is the chief writer for Sweet is a popular speaker and has written numerous books, including Jesus Drives Me Crazy, SoulTsunami, SoulSalsa, Carpe Manana, and (with Brian McLaren and Jerry Haselmeyer) A Is for Abductive: The Language of the Emerging Church.

Brian D. McLaren (MA, University of Maryland) is founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church, an innovative, nondenominational church in the Baltimore-Washington region. He's also a senior fellow with emergent (, a growing generative friendship of missional Christian leaders.

Jerry Haselmayer (B.A., University of Southern Indiana) is president and founder of Leadership Pathways, a consulting firm that partners with clients to deliver experiential learning, tailored personal coaching, and organizational change. An ordained minister, he lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children.

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Customer Reviews

2.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Timothy McGrew on July 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
My initial reaction to this book, when a friend (laughingly) sent it my direction, was unprintable. But -- slightly redacted -- it went like this:


Have the editors at Zondervan lost their minds? Did they have minds to begin with?

I cannot find a single redeeming feature to this tragicomical book. The authors are earnest, but they are completely clueless about the philosophical concepts they are trying to summarize and employ. They might, with equal hope of success, have attempted to explicate quantum field theory. (Hmm, let's see, Fock space -- well, have you seen "Meet the Fockers" ...?)

In the space of an Amazon review it is impossible to do more than point out a few typical errors. Here are three classes of mistakes.

First, the authors put their foot in it when they try to deal with terms from logic (p. 31). If they were merely making up some new technical terms, we might deplore their decision to redefine words that already have established meanings and let it go at that. "Deductive method" as they define it has nothing to do with deduction; ditto for the other terms. But no; they intend to pin the third category on the American logician Charles Sanders Peirce. And they seem to think as another reviewer comments, that "abduction" here means "kidnaping":

Abductive reasoning (a seismic little phrase coined by the philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce) has powerful implications for preaching -- and all communication, really. To go abductive, get rid of your inductive/deductive outlines and make your sermons pointless!
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Nichomachus on May 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book peddles a profound misunderstanding of abductive logic. McLaren either misunderstands the concept or didn't bother to try and understand it in the first place. C.S. Peirce's abduction is not the same as kidnapping. McLaren uses "abductive" in the sense of metaphorically "kidnapping" the imagination of one's(no doubt equally deluded) audience, rather than trying to make an analytic case. It's an anti-analytic argument, as McLaren sees it, but abduction itself is a form of analytic reasoning.

Abduction, briefly, is "inference to the best explanation." It is part of the American Pragmatist tradition of epistemology; where the pragmatic conception of truth bases the justification/plausibility of a theory on the practical effects it has in the world. Assessing which of competing theories "best" explain x has to do with evaluating practical outcomes in the world.

This is contrasted with inductive reasoning, which is the notion that one can justifiably reason from observable particulars to develop general theories that are truthful -- and from deductive reasoning, which is the notion that the truthfulness of a theory/statement/etc. can only be based on analytic conclusions that necessarily follow from necessarily true premises.

Abduction, on the other hand, has a different notion of the plausibility -- or justifiability -- of a theory or truth-claim. The problem is determining what consists of the independent notion of "bestness" that is used to evaluate competing theories or claims. But abduction is NOT anti-logic! (Nor is postmodernism, but that's another story.)

I only go into all of this because McLaren has misleadingly titled his book as if it has something to do with abduction, or abductive reasoning.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Glenn H. Teal on September 5, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Len Sweet usually writes more with more passion and intelligence that he evidences in this book. Snipets of insight into an eclectic alphabetized list of topics result in a whole lot of next to nothing.

BUT Sweet et al still have a few fascinating things to say -- just not many.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By mementomori on April 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
If this is the intellectual might behind the emerging church movement, then it doesn't stand a chance...
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