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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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From the Back Cover
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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
RAR is at its best in describing the limitations of current forms of conservative evangelicalism. I found myself saying "Yes!" and "Exactly!" many times while reading the book. If you are dissatisfied with conservative evangelicalism, you should consider reading RAR.
By Olson's definition, I am a postconservative evangelical. The book is solid. Conservative evangelicalism desperately needs alternatives such as the postconservative evangelicalism Olson advocates.
I did not like that Olson named/created a movement and then speaks on behalf of it. His case for inventing a new term rather than sticking with "postliberalism" was not clear or compelling to me. Like much of what I have read from emerging/emergent/postmodern theorists, RAR tends to emphasize the weaknesses of conservative evangelicalism but does not offer nearly so much depth or insight regarding weaknesses of postconservative evangelicalism.
The reason I gave this book three stars is that, although I appreciated it, RAR is not for the average reader. This is the first book I have read by Olson, and I will try again in the future but I do not personally enjoy his style of writing.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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. Read morePublished on April 21, 2010 by Christopher Matthews
I am sympathetic to Olson's theological point: evangelicals, especially those of a highly Calvinist viewpoint, tend to view much of the traditional theology of the... Read morePublished on March 17, 2010 by Book Guy
Do you believe that Scripture's primary purpose is to ignite transformation over and above providing information? Read morePublished on April 9, 2009 by Alwyn Lau