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Reformed and Always Reforming: The Postconservative Approach to Evangelical Theology (Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology) Paperback – October 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic (October 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801031699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801031694
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #501,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Reformed and Always Reforming is part of the Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology series. Series editors are Craig A. Evans and Lee Martin McDonald.

Can we be more evangelical by being less conservative?

"In his new book, Olson sets forth a genuinely evangelical theology that rejects modernity and fundamentalism. His focus on a personal relationship with Christ over propositions and the need to continually revise theology in light of the Word of God are important corrections to conservative evangelical tendencies. Anyone interested in a truly gospel-oriented theology will benefit from engaging with his arguments."
--Alan G. Padgett, Luther Seminary, editor of the Journal for Christian Theological Research (www.jctr.org)

"'Evangelicalism' has been described as a set of corrective theological emphases. Roger Olson describes how among postconservative evangelicals such an impulse for reform has continued right up to the present. Privileging a style that is open and generous, these theologians have valued transformation over information and have put narrative before proposition. One can only applaud."
--Robert K. Johnston, Fuller Seminary, coeditor of The Variety of American Evangelicalism

"Roger Olson's newest book provides an excellent overview of the recent (and ongoing) methodological and material debates among 'evangelical' theologians. Olson not only explains the historical and political issues that contributed to the current situation in evangelical theology, he also offers resources for a 'postconservative' approach to theology that always maintains its commitment to the ongoing reformation of the church and its proclamation of the gospel."
--F. LeRon Shults, Agder University (Norway), coauthor of Transforming Spirituality

"In this book Olson provides a description and critical assessment of the developments related to the postconservative style of thinking along with a robust defense of its principles and intuitions in response to its more conservative critics. Anyone looking for a clear and authoritative overview of the current trajectories and future possibilities of this approach to evangelical theology would be well advised to start here."
--John R. Franke, Biblical Seminary

"'Postconservative theology' sees itself as holding onto evangelicalism's theological heart but shedding its modern baggage and reactionary tendencies. Roger Olson's 'apologia' sketches the lines of influence and distinction between conservative and postconservative evangelical theology and pleads for his side's ways of reflecting on the Christian faith. Whether or not you agree with the movement or even the label, the thinkers he cites in these pages are a serious force worthy of respectful engagement."
--Telford Work, Westmont College

About the Author

Roger E. Olson (PhD, Rice University) is professor of theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University. He is a prolific author whose volumes include The Story of Christian Theology and The Mosaic of Christian Belief. He is also coauthor of 20th-Century Theology.

More About the Author

Roger E. Olson (Ph.D., Rice University) is professor of theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He is the author of The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform, The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity (both InterVarsity Press) and The Westminster Handbook to Evangelical Theology (Westminster John Knox). He is also coauthor of 20th-Century Theology: God & the World in a Transitional Age and Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God (both with Stanley J. Grenz, InterVarsity Press), and of The Trinity (with Christopher A. Hall, Eerdmans).

Customer Reviews

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Instead, they address these errors almost solely from clear exegesis of the Scriptures.
Christopher Matthews
Thought that may in fact sound a bit dry, Olson in fact turns in a compelling story of the development of a new brand of evangelical theology.
James Korsmo
I just read Reformed and Always Reforming: The Postconservative Approach to Evangelical Theology by Roger Olson.
Jeremy Zach

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Zach on January 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
I just read Reformed and Always Reforming: The Postconservative Approach to Evangelical Theology by Roger Olson. Throughout the whole book I was nodding my head and shouting amen. Roger is a theology professor at Treutt Seminary-- Baylor University. Essentially Roger articulated an evangelicalism that may be suited for the 21st century. I believe that Roger has been involved in conservative Evangelicalism in the past and now in the present he wants a new approach.

Conservative Evangelicalism vs. Postconservative Evangelicalism

Conservative evangelicals love their Doctrine. It is all about Doctrine! Roger alludes to the fact that when conservative Christians attempt to identify whether a person or a group is Christian, they often turn to examination of doctrinal beliefs. (67) Millard Erickson and DA Carson, two big hitters within the conservative Christian scholarly circles, argue "cognitive knowledge and affirmation of correct doctrines are the defining hallmarks of authentic evangelical faith". I whole heartedly agree, but I think correct doctrine is too subjective and interpretative based. Roger questions this correct doctrine notion by asking: What if a system of doctrine could be constructed this perfectly which reflects biblical revelation in all its its factual assertions, would the Bible no longer be necessary? And yet the Bible does remain necessary. (163)

Postconservative Evangelicalism wants something more than only having "correct" doctrine. Theology is a pilgrimage and a journey rather than a discovery and conquest. (55) Postconservatives want transformation, not information. Postconservative evangelicalism views all doctrines and theological systems as "man made" rather than "God made.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David C. Cramer on May 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
If his Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities were not enough to stake his position in the evangelical theological world (and make me a big fan!), Roger Olson's Reformed and Always Reforming: The Postconservative Approach to Evangelical Theology should do the trick. Personally, I have had a growing nebulous feeling of discontent with much of conservative evangelicalism (politically, theologically, etc.) over the last couple years, but I have had few options of where to go with these feelings. I knew straight out liberalism wasn't the answer, but what else is there? Thus, for me Reformed and Always Reforming was like a breath of fresh air, exploring new options for evangelical theology that transcend the old conservative/liberal dichotomy.

On the first page of his introduction, Roger Olson makes the aims of his work clear: `This is a book about theology and not sociology, politics, or even ethics' (7). Though Olson's project is about theology and not ethics or politics, he views the aim of his project in the same stream as that of Jim Wallis, Ron Sider, and Tony Campolo, namely, to demonstrate how `it is possible to be more evangelical by being less conservative' (7).

Olson argues that conservative evangelical theology, characterized by the writings of Carl F. H. Henry, Wayne Grudem, Tom Oden, and D. A. Carson, among others, has become too tied to tradition - either in the form of the `ancient ecumenical consensus' or the `received evangelical tradition' - to allow the Spirit to speak in a fresh way to the community of faith through new interpretations of scripture.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M 1985 on November 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book is full of interesting concepts and ideas, it's thoroughly evangelical without being fundamentalist, it's progressive without being liberal, it seeks to be faithful to Scripture as the highest source of revelation while recognizing the need of a personal walk with Christ in order to interpret Scripture. It tries to put tradition in its right place without becoming enslaved to dead traditionalism. Roger Olson also writes in a very elegant and concise way which makes reading his books a real pleasure. Excellent for anyone trying to understand evangelical theology.
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22 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Matthews on April 21, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let me begin by saying that I am a conservative evangelical with whom Dr. Olson obviously disagrees and from the evidence in this book, he obviously does not understand. The primary problem with this book is that Dr. Olson constructs a view of conservative evangelicals as "traditionalists" that does not truly represent them. He claims that the "essence of conservatism in theology is a determined - if often implicit and unacknowledged - adherence to tradition." This is true in some respect, but definitely not in the respect he proposes in this book. Conservative evangelicals do have a determined adherence to tradition of sola scriptura, the doctrine that the Bible is the only infallible and inerrant authority for the Christian faith. This is the very tradition to which Olson claims conservative evangelicals are not adhering because they instead are exalting traditional theological formulations from the early church and the magisterial reformers as infallible sources of authority instead.

This simply is not true and completely mischaracterizes conservative evangelicals. If this were true, you would expect to go to the books of conservative evangelicals (such as D.A. Carson, Millard Erickson, Wayne Grudem, and others he mentions by name) and see their theological arguments against postconservative ideas like Open Theism, inclusivism, etc. coming from traditional statements of historic theology such as creeds, confessions, or reformation writings. That is not what they do at all. Instead, they address these errors almost solely from clear exegesis of the Scriptures. Conservative evangelicals still hold to many of the doctrines of the early church councils and the reformers because they continue to be faithful expressions of what revealed about God in the Bible.
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