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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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"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 CEO, 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.
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The author brings you up to date on things that have happened in history and the move in thought that shapes what people think, do, and apply to their everyday lives. These things have shaped the way Christians believe (right or wrong) then we have a tendency to make the scripture fit our thoughts rather than have our thoughts fit around scripture.
I would recommend this book for people who are having issues with the changes they are seeing in Christianity.
It's not a hard book to read, but it does read somewhat like a text book.
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.
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.