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Truth and the New Kind of Christian: The Emerging Effects of Postmodernism in the Church Paperback – November 8, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (November 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581347405
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581347401
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #449,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The latest clarion call in the never-ending cavalcade of "what's new" in the evangelical world is the confident assertion from some quarters that the church needs to embrace "postmodernism" if it is going to engage postmoderns effectively. Pastors trying to break down the often indigestible subject matter of postmodernism into bite-size chunks in order to equip their people to engage it, and teachers who are aiming at giving their students a working knowledge of the way postmodernism is impacting the church will find a good deal of help from Smith."
J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor and John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi

"Scott Smith and I agree on a lot. We share a deep commitment to Jesus Christ, a love of the Bible, and a passion for the church. We also agree that we're currently living in a liminal time, and it's those "boundary times" when people look most closely at the beliefs that underlie their practices. So, we've all got some things to figure out right now, including what we can really know and the certainty with which we can state our claims in a pluralistic society. I appreciate Scott's voice in this conversation. He is a careful reader of my work, and he writes with a gracious and generous tone. Interlocutors like Scott will be a helpful challenge to all of us in the 'emerging church.' I consider him a friendly critic and a brother in Christ."
Tony Jones, Author of Postmodern Youth Ministry and National Director, Emergent

"Scott Smith is uniquely suited to enter the Emergent conversation with this helpful volume. Not only is he an analytic philosopher with a razor-sharp mind who has specialized in analyzing postmodernistic views on the relationship between language and the world, but he is also a man who cares for the lost, loves the church, and has an ability to communicate complex truths to people in the pew."
Justin Taylor, blogger, Between Two Worlds

"Every leader in the new Emergent Movement will want to read this fascinating book. They simply will not find a more engaging, knowledgeable, balanced, and kind treatment of their concerns, ideas, and practices."
Craig J. Hazen, Professor of Comparative Religion, Biola University

"Scott Smith's study challenges us to take seriously the truth claim of the gospel both in how we proclaim it in words and in how we manifest it in our personal and community lives."
Gary Inrig, Senior Pastor, Trinity Church, Redlands, California

About the Author

R. Scott Smith is Assistant Professor of Ethics and Christian Apologetics at Biola University in California. He is the author of Virtue Ethics and Moral Knowledge. Dr. Smith has lectured and presented numerous times on his specialty, postmodernism, and he is also the secretary-treasurer of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.


More About the Author

R. Scott Smith is Assistant Professor of Ethics and Christian Apologetics at Biola University in California. He is the author of Virtue Ethics and Moral Knowledge. Dr. Smith has lectured and presented numerous times on his specialty, postmodernism, and he is also the secretary-treasurer of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

Customer Reviews

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It is very insightful and a great read!
Rick D
I thought it was an extremely well articulated and fair criticism of Christian postmodernism.
J. T. Shoemaker
Especially of concern is the postmodernist attack on the very concept of truth.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By J. T. Shoemaker on January 16, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The postmodern worldview is growing and Dr. Smith's thoughts address well the concerns that the Church should have regarding its coherence and practical influence.

Unlike the previous review, I found this book to be an excellent representation of the views held by many in this camp.

The chapter on Christian Postmodernism clearly lays out what many of the mainstream Christian Postmoderists are advocating. Dr. Smith uses various movies and TV shows as examples, which are very interesting and help to both explain Christian postmodernism and to capture the reader's attention. Overall, I found the discussion on the views, and especially the summary of the four common points, of Hauerwas, Kallenberg Grenz & Franke very helpful.

I also really enjoyed the chapter on youth ministry. This is where we see the practical implications of Christian postmodernism - many young Christians who have been influenced by the ideas of their generation, namely relativism, are dismissing the importance of Truth. For advocates of postmodern Christianity, there really is no need for proof or truth. Yet, without Truth how does anything one believes matter?

I enjoyed the chapter "Addressing Postmodernism" the most. I thought it was an extremely well articulated and fair criticism of Christian postmodernism. Dr. Smith lays out an argument for perhaps the most foundational point in the debate, that postmodernists make all their claims (i.e. that we cannot know truth) yet "they seem to be written in such a way as to indicate that they have found the truth". Great point! Furthermore, he uses this point to demonstrate that they must "presuppose that they can get out of language" while arguing that one cannot get outside of language. This is particularly insightful.

I also think he makes some great points in the "Addressing Issues for Christian Theology" chapter, but I'll save that for the reader.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on May 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
It has always been a temptation for the Christian church to slavishly copy the latest trends of the day. While there is a place to present an unchanging message in new forms and expressions, it is decidedly unwise to simply seek to be relevant, at the expense of truth and good doctrine.

One new movement in American Christian circles is the emergent - or emerging - church movement. While a relatively new and somewhat diverse group, this movement can be described as a critique of the traditional way of doing church, and a call for the need to embrace much of postmodernism in order to be more effective.

One of the main books by a leading figure in this movement, Brian McLaren, is the 2001 book, A New Kind of Christian. Thus the title by Smith. He offers here a critique of the emergent church movement in particular, and postmodernism in general.

In short, argues Smith, while we have made mistakes in the past, and while postmodernism is not to be totally rejected, we pay too heavy a price in uncritically accepting and adopting postmodernist ideas.

Especially of concern is the postmodernist attack on the very concept of truth. Smith argues that the Christian community dare not give up on the concept of objective, propositional truth. To do so would be to abandon the distinctives of the Christian gospel altogether.

While there are a number of good Christian critiques of postmodernism, and at least one excellent book-length treatment of the emerging church movement (D.A. Carson's 2005 volume), this is one of the few books to nicely bring the two subjects together in a single, readable volume.

Smith is to be commended for his irenic yet forceful critique of the dangers of this latest trend to bewitch the Christian church.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Mills on April 13, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The strength of this book is the way that Scott Smith interacts with his various interlocutors. Smith does a better than average job at representing his sources well. While not agreeing 100% with his sources, he still spends much of his book seeking to articulate his sources with care and charity. This enables the reader to understand what emerging leaders are trying to say before analyzing if one agrees with the points they are seeking to make.

Thanks for this book.
Tim Mills
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Phillip H. Steiger VINE VOICE on June 27, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This makes for a wonderful book if you are investigating the claims of the Emergent movement. It also turns out to be a great read if you are interested in a relatively short defense of our ability to know objective reality in light of the postmodern view that we are "stuck" inside our own language. Smith ably shows what the core philosophical commitments are for post-conservatives and leaders in the Emergent Church movement, and then shows the logical consequences of those views. Much of the debate over and with the Emergent movement and post-conservatives hinges on whether the postmodern commitments they hold have orthodox or heterodox consequences, and after a great deal of survey, explanation, and philosophical explication, Smith comes down squarely on the side of heterodoxy.

Smith, in the midst of what I think is overwhelming critique, maintains an irenic spirit and does his best to present the other side fairly and clearly, quoting often not only from published works, but email correspondence as well.

This is a wonderful addition to a growing and critical trend in evangelical theology and praxis, and deserves to be read not only as a sound piece of philosophical work, but as an example of helpful, even friendly, critique.
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