Thursday, November 13, 2014

Faith, Form, and Fashion

Faith, Form and Fashion, (Cascade Books, Wipf and Stock)

This is a detailed examination of the theological innovations of Kevin Vanhoozer and John Franke. Each proposes that doctrinal and systematic theology should be re-cast in the light of postmodernity. No longer can Christian theology be foundational, or have a stable metaphysical and epistemological framework. Vanhoozer advocates a theo-dramatic reconstruction of Christian doctrine, replacing the timeless propositions of the “purely cerebral theology” of the Reformed tradition in favour of a theology that does justice to the polyphony of multiple biblical genres. Franke holds that theology is part of a three-way conversation between Scripture, tradition, and culture,  with an uncertain outcome.

This study shows that each of these proposals is based on misunderstanding and exaggeration, and that the case against foundationalism is unclear and unpersuasive. It is argued that Vanhoozer’s appeal to revelation as divine speech-acts is not as radical as he thinks, and his epistemology is weak. In the hands of postmodernity, Christian theology abandons its exactness and the standards of care that are a notable feature of doctrinal constructions.

 The book will be of importance to those with interest in Reformed theology or Christian theology more generally. It provides a clear assessment of the impact of the postmodern mind-set on theology.