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The Post Evangelical Paperback – September, 2000

3.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (September 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0281048142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0281048144
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,321,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
I had never heard of the term "post-evangelical" when a friend gave me this book, but reading it has helped me articulate a lot of the confusion I had been feeling regarding my faith. For some time I had been uncertain about various aspects of evangelicalism and the experience of church, although I found it difficult to express my concerns, partly because I wasn't sure what it was that just "didn't seem right", and partly out of fear that I would be branded "unbelieving" if I openly questioned aspects of my faith. Although the church I belong to is fairly moderate on the evangelical scale, there are quite a few people for whom faith is an all-or-nothing matter: if I didn't believe everything that was said, I might as well not believe anything. As I'm sure many others could testify, this is a discomforting and isolating experience, and one that made me feel things would probably be OK as long as I just kept my mouth shut and didn't publicly disagree with anyone.
The Post-Evangelical has helped me put my experience in context, looking at the history of the church, the rise of the evangelical movement, and the subsequent disillusion with this movement as we move from the "modern" to the "postmodern". Granted, these are amibiguous terms that tend to be overused and underexplained, but I believe Dave Tomlinson does as good a job as anyone at defining them. In the same way that postmodern is not a rejection but a continuation of the modern, post-evangelicalism is an attempt at rethinking and questioning evangelicalism without callously throwing it aside.
This book has been of invaluable help to me in understanding where I have come from and why I am finding it problematic.
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Format: Hardcover
I read the British edition of Tomlinson's book a while back and can recommend it without reservation. He points out the many weaknesses of modern Evangelicalism for thinking persons (or even deeply feeling persons) and tries to plot a course toward something greater and more in tune with the Spirit. I liked the fact that he was not afraid to go after sacred cows like inerrancy, a modern attribute forced onto a premodern text, while so many other 'postmodern' Christian authors seem caught up in worrying about worship and preaching styles: the problem goes much deeper than the hipness of your pop culture connections, whether you have video screens in your church, or whether you preach in a relational style.

The American edition, however, has been published by Zondervan, a very conservative, borderline fundamentalist publisher. While Zondervan can be congratulated for having the nerve to publish the book at all, they end up handicapping Tomlinson's arguments by adding a running commentary in the margins from several figures in the American emergent church movement. Some of these commentators, like Timothy Keel and Doug Pagitt, have some interesting things to say about how the British Post-Evangelical movement relates to the US Emergent movement. Others are less helpful. Mark Galli, an editor for Christianity Today and Leadership, gives stock 'Christianity Inc' answers for many of Tomlinson's observations. Galli is often offensive in his attitude toward those of us fed up with the easy answers and cosy compromises of his brand of faith: at one point he argues that people leave conservative evangelical churches not because of the rampant anti-intellectualism or the cultural irrelevance, but rather because they want to avoid discipline and tithing.
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Format: Hardcover
This book should be viewed as a catalyst for further thought and discussion on the topics raised. It touches the heartbeat of a growing "in-house" trend of dissatisfaction with contemporary evangelical culture as organizationally, and in some cases doctrinally and practically, expressed that leaves some "evangelicals," including myself, feeling that they have strayed from the flock when, in fact, they may have discovered the vital bloodstream of the biblical faith that has been clouded over with trivialities and, in some cases, error throughout the years. Dallas Willard states in his forward to the revised North American edition, "post-evangelicalism is by no means ex-evangelicalism... post-evangelicals are evangelicals, perhaps tenaciously so. However, post-evangelicals have also been driven to the margins by some aspects of evangelical church culture with which they cannot honestly identify." With that said, however, Tomlinson points out that some who strongly identify with what the book discusses "may not all be evangelicals" although they certainly are post-moderns.

My own alienation with certain aspects of contemporary evangelical culture as well as Dallas Willard's forward to this book is why I read it. And although some reviewers disliked the supplemental comments by the book's contributors, I felt that several of them provided good clarifications and critiques whereas others were off the mark. Also, some readers would not consider Tomlinson as the principle representative for their brand of "post-evangelicalism" which is general and vague enough to allow for different brands among those who identify with it.
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