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Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in a Postmodern Context Paperback – November 1, 2000
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About the Author
Stanley J. Grenz was Pioneer McDonald Professor of Theology at Carey Theological College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,and Professor of Theological Studies at Mars Hill Graduate School in Seattle, Washington, prior to his death in 2004. He authored a number of books, including What Christians Really Believe & Why; and Sexual Ethics: An Evangelical Perspective.
John R. Franke is Lester and Kay Clemens Professor of Missional Theology at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania.
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Trinity. To begin with, while it is acknowledged that the doctrine of the Trinity is not part of the kerygma of the Church or Scripture, Christian theology is trinitarian in nature. It is a "natural outworking of the faith of the NT community" (172). Far from philosophical speculation, the doctrine "arose as a response to the concrete historical situation encountered by the early Christian community" (173). Firm believers of monotheism and that Christianity was the fulfillment of Judaism, early Christians were faced with the task of integrating their three commitments to this God, his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit who indwelt them. "They did not want to posit three Gods" (174), but they were captive to their experiences and left with the task of communicating their theological commitments. Moving forward, apart from a brief "hiatus generated by the Enlightenment" the doctrine of the Trinity has been an engaging "theological conversation throughout the history of the church" (186). Following Karl Barth, whose great accomplishment it was to "argue conclusively that the Christian community's primary experience of revelation is trinitarian in nature" (189), a truly trinitarian theology, therefore, is shown to be one "that is structured around the self disclosure of the triune God as centered in Christ and given through scripture to the believing community" (190). It is the experiential components of Christianity that reveal it to be a religion that is trinitarian in nature, and this architecture should serve the Church in constructing its theology.
Community. Theology is formed into a whole in the sphere of community. Since we are beyond foundationalism, the much needed basis for theological discourse is the Church. It is the community of the redeemed, those who have encountered the God of the Bible in Jesus Christ, who provide the basis for articulating the mosaic of Christian belief (233). In what amounts to social contract theory with an ecclesial recasting, i.e. the Church is entered into by believing, the Church is then constitutionally defined anthropologically. But this constitution may be defined theologically as well, since the believing community is formed by the Spirit at work in the narratives of Scripture. The narrative also provides the interpretive framework as it functions dynamically for the narrative believing community (226), and as this community participates in the life of the triune God through the agent of the Holy Spirit, it receives more of God's fulness (228). "The church is basic in that our participation in the faith community calls forth theological reflection" (234).
Eschatology. However, this community is oriented eschatologically, and this is the third point for Grenz and Franke. "Eschatology orients Christian theology because of the connection between eschatology and the narrative of God at work in creation" (252). The biblical narrative that the believing community inhabits is itself inherently eschatological since it has as its goal the restoration of creation. This is the telos toward which it is directed.