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Manifold Witness: The Plurality of Truth (Living Theology)

4.2 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0687491957
ISBN-10: 0687491959
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Editorial Reviews

Review

A refreshing study of plurality and diversity as something intrinsic to the nature of Christianity rather than as something extraneous to it. Lucid and lively, the book makes a valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion about the religion s emerging profile in the twenty-first century. I am entirely in agreement with John Franke that faith is embodied, that theology is rooted in practice and experience, and that the gospel shapes and is shaped by culture. Manifold Witness tracks the manifold trails of Christianity s impact on persons and societies. It should find welcome response in theological study and teaching. --Lamin Sanneh, Professor of World Christianity and Director, World Christianity Initiative, at Yale Divinity School, Professor of History at Yale University, and author<br /><br />John Franke asserts the plurality of truth, not as a capitulation to non- or anti-Christian thought, but rather as an expression of profoundly Christian thought and specifically, of emergent, missional, and Trinitarian Christian thought. In so doing, he gently implies that the dominant alternative view that white, modernist, Western Christian scholars and institutions have a monopoly on truth is actually a capitulation to modes of thought and power that have betrayed the life and gospel of Jesus Christ. --From the foreword from Brian McLaren<br /><br />Why is there a Trinity of persons and a quartet of Gospels? Do not relation and difference, context and plurality lie at the very heart of the Christian tradition? Is not the infinite resourcefulness of love enhanced by change and alterity? These are the kinds of questions that John Franke addresses in a bold, sweeping, and lucid presentation of the ongoing renewal of the life of the church. Manifold Witness is the fruit of a tenacious faith in the Christian tradition and a no-less-tenacious faith in the power of truth. --John D. Caputo, Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Humanities at Syracuse University and author of What Would Jesus Deconstruct? The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church

A refreshing study of plurality and diversity as something intrinsic to the nature of Christianity rather than as something extraneous to it. Lucid and lively, the book makes a valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion about the religion s emerging profile in the twenty-first century. I am entirely in agreement with John Franke that faith is embodied, that theology is rooted in practice and experience, and that the gospel shapes and is shaped by culture. Manifold Witness tracks the manifold trails of Christianity s impact on persons and societies. It should find welcome response in theological study and teaching. --Lamin Sanneh, Professor of World Christianity and Director, World Christianity Initiative, at Yale Divinity School, Professor of History at Yale University, and author

Why is there a Trinity of persons and a quartet of Gospels? Do not relation and difference, context and plurality lie at the very heart of the Christian tradition? Is not the infinite resourcefulness of love enhanced by change and alterity? These are the kinds of questions that John Franke addresses in a bold, sweeping, and lucid presentation of the ongoing renewal of the life of the church. Manifold Witness is the fruit of a tenacious faith in the Christian tradition and a no-less-tenacious faith in the power of truth. --John D. Caputo, Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Humanities at Syracuse University and author of What Would Jesus Deconstruct? The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church

About the Author

John R. Franke is Lester and Kay Clemens Professor of Missional Theology at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania.

Brian D. McLaren, hailed as one of America's 25 most influential evangelicals by Time magazine, is a speaker, social justice activist, pastor, and the author of A New Kind of Christianity, A Generous Orthodoxy, A New Kind of Christian, and The Secret Message of Jesus. McLaren has appeared on Nightline and Larry King Live, and his work has been covered in The Washington Post, the New York Times, Christianity Today, and many other publications. McLaren and his wife, Grace, live in Florida and have four adult children.
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Product Details

  • Series: Living Theology
  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0687491959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0687491957
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John R. Franke is theologian in residence at Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, IN; professor of religious studies and missiology at the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit in Leuven, Belgium; and general coordinator for The Gospel and Our Culture Network in North America. He holds the DPhil degree from the University of Oxford and is particularly interested in engaging postmodern thought and culture from the perspective of missional Christian faith. He has spoken on the relationships between the gospel, theology, mission, and culture throughout the U.S. and around the world. He is the author of numerous articles and reviews as well as several books including Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in a Postmodern Context (Westminster John Knox) with Stanley Grenz; The Character of Theology: An Introduction to its Nature, Task, and Purpose (Baker Academic); Barth for Armchair Theologians (Westminster John Knox); and Manifold Witness: The Plurality of Truth (Abingdon). His most recent book on missional theology is forthcoming from Baker Academic.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
While the topic of truth gets a lot of air-time these days, few actually take the time to define what they are talking about or move beyond critiquing the "other side." Franke though stays true to an evangelical affirmation of truth while at the same time thoughtfully engaging with the reality of pluralism. His nuanced approach to the discussion doesn't rubber-stamp any extreme, but admits the complexity associated with faith and truth. And for that, I found his work to be refreshing. He admits upfront that "the expression of biblical and orthodox Christian faith is inherently and irreducibly pluralist" (7). But this isn't an in-your-face assertion that must be swallowed whole; it is instead the idea that the whole book seeks to unpack and explore. With a faithful commitment to scripture and a tender compassion for the reader, Franke demonstrates how pluralism is not something to be feared or fought but is instead simply a beautiful intrinsic aspect of not just our faith but all creation.

I appreciated how Franke in his discussion of truth quickly moved beyond the absolute and relative dichotomies. Neither accurately represents truth as the first tries to commoditize it for the sake of power and the second deny it in the name of tolerance. Pluralism and truth are far more complex than the extreme camps allow us to admit. Our world is diverse, as is our faith. And Franke rightly points out that culture and our faith is always changing, God never leaves us where we are at, but is constantly transforming us with the gospel. The constant renewing of our minds allows us to faithfully claim traditions in the church as well as celebrate the new things God is doing.
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Format: Paperback
John Franke has written an engaging book, and the subject matter is eternally relevant and always controversial: truth. In Manifold Witness, Franke is arguing for an ever-present plurality within Christian truth claims. Throughout his work, Franke engages questions concerning the nature of truth, the nature of God, explains deconstruction as a vital practice for Christian theological reflection, and adds a proposed approach to theology based on his concept of "manifold witness." From start to finish, this is an interesting read that takes up many important contemporary concerns.

Franke raises some helpful questions, such as whether a historic Christian faith exists. Relying on the work of Andrew Wall, Franke posits what the Christian faith would look like overtime to a space alien researching human religious culture. Focusing on Christianity in particular, Franke asks if the alien would recognize any coherence at all, and if the Vincentian rule of the faith, that which has been believed "everywhere and by all," could be successfully applied. Franke believes it could not. While there would be some similarities found within the Christian faith as it has been professed across time, Franke believes there is more diversity than there is unity, and as such can be considered an evidence for the plurality of truth. While Franke's scenario is plausible, I humbly disagree. Plurality of expression, and particular emphases on certain facets of Christian doctrine and practice over time to meet specific needs and specific cultural situations does not automatically negate a unified "deposit" of Christian faith that has been constant across traditions and across time. Plurality of expression does not exclude unity and singularity of truth.
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Theological difference is not something to be overcome, nor is it the result of sin. It is rooted in the Trinity in whom both unity and diversity harmoniously coexist. Theological diversity is part of God's missional intent that the gospel go forth and be infinitely translated into every culture it meets. The goal is not that all come to the same theological expression but that myriad expression remain, both now and forever. For those in theological debate I'm the church, please read this. It holds the keys to a new way toward unity, one grounded not in mutual consent to shared doctrine, but in Christ who is always translating the gospel into new forms and models which are not to be overcome, but listened to, celebrated and preserved.
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It is helping with my class and preaching..
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