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

3.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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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.
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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: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 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: #555,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Roger Olson's Reformed and Always Reforming (RAR) is an apology for a developing alternative to conservative evangelicalism. Olson labels this alternative "postconservative evangelicalism" and RAR is an apology for it.

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.
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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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