Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Monday, September 12, 2011

Are Christians Called to be Conservatives or Radicals?

Looking To The Past: The Backward Movement of Radicals and Conservatives

by Peter Rollins
posted September 8, 2011


A few days ago Kester Brewin posted an insightful post called ‘The year of opposition’ (can’t link to it as I am writing this on some ipad software). In this post there was brief reference to the words ‘Radical’ and ‘Conservative’ which sparked off some debate. He then followed this up with some provisional reflections on what these words might mean.

Because of the confusion around these terms I thought I would reflect briefly on what I see as the difference. As I do this I wish to make an initial observation. When one is within a field of debate one's definition of sides will reflect the stand one has taken. So while I will attempt to offer as precise a definition of Radical and Conservative as I can in a small post, I am making a case for one over the other.

I would suggest that both the words ‘Radical’ and ‘Conservative’ as used in theology refer to a relationship with the past. In this sense they both move forward by looking back. What is at stake in their difference is the way that they relate to this past. This relation to the past is hinted at in the very etymologically of the words, as ‘Radical’ means to return to the roots and ‘Conservative’ refers to a form of conservation of what has been inherited.

In order to understand the different ways they relate to the past we need to introduce a classical philosophical distinction between potentiality and actuality, a distinction first introduced by Aristotle. Basically potentiality refers to the range of possibilities that something has (e.g. it is possible, though highly unlikely, that I could become a dancer) while actuality refers to the realising of possibility (e.g. if I were to become a dancer). One of the first things we can say in light of this distinction is that all actuality (things that have actually happened) were once potentialities. If they were not then they could never have happened. Traditionally then it has been thought that actuality is the realisation (and thus the end of) potentiality.

In light of this we could say that theological conservatives seek to protect, promote and re-articulate an actuality that they see as true, good and beautiful in the Christian tradition. In short they seek to conserve something that has actually taken place.

The opposite position to this one could be described as a kind of theological new wave that seeks to leave behind what has gone before and chart an utterly new course. Turning from what is actual and striving to build a new frame.

In contrast to both of these I would argue that the theological Radical neither affirms what is actual in the concretely existing church, nor turns away from it. Instead they embody a totally different relation to the Potentiality/Actuality relationship.

Instead of seeing actuality as the end of potentiality, the theological radical (echoing Kierkegaard and others) sees a potentiality bubbling up within the actuality of the historical church. The theological radical is one who believes that there is an explosive potentiality buried within this history that ought to be realised.

Instead of turning from concretely existing Christianity, or defending it with apologetics, they are committed to delving into the actuality in order to find some, as yet unrealised, possibility. Something that Kierkegaard called repetition.

Thus both the radical and the conservative are interested in the past, but in different ways. One thinks that the past must continue to be brought into the present while the other thinks the past is a womb from which an utterly new event can arise (which was one of the founding claims made by Radical Theology as a movement).

This enables us to claim that the Conservative seeks to return to the early church while the radical seeks to return to the event that gave birth to the early church.

The Pauline Form of Universalism

The Trash of the World: Paul and Universalism

by Peter Rollins
posted September 6, 2011

I would like to reflect briefly on the interesting and complex area of universalism in Christianity. Something I shall be exploring more in some upcoming books. Broadly speaking we might say that there are two dominant types of universalism being advocated in the church today. The first might be called (for want of a better word) Conservative Universalism. This type of universalism draws upon the idea that the Christian message is for all (rather than some particular group). Thus the Christian message must be preached to all, who must then make a decision in light of it. This understanding of universalism employs the various scriptural references that concern the move from a gospel dedicated to the Jewish people to a gospel that reaches out to the Gentiles, as well as those missional sections of the text that speak of preaching to the ends of the earth.

The other type of universalism that we witness in the contemporary church can be loosely described as Liberal Universalism. Here there is a belief that the power of the Christian message touches and transforms all, meaning that ultimately all will be unified with God through Christ.

There is however a different way of approaching universalism, a way that is opened up via a reading of Paul. A third reading neither confirms nor negates the above readings. Rather it causes us to rethink what it might be that the Church should be inviting people into.

In order to approach this let us recall Paul’s claim that Christians are the refuse (garbage) of the world. In other words, they were once a part of the world but now have been cast out into the rubbish heap. In this way Christians are the de-worlded, they are the part of no part, the community of outsiders, the excremental remainder that has been wiped from the surface of the world (the literal translation refers to a scraping off).

The question then is what this might mean and why it should be described as universalism? To answer the first part of that question we must recall how the Cross represented a divine curse. It is the symbol (or was in Paul’s day) of being thrown outside of the political, religious and cultural orders. The one being crucified was naked and abandoned. They experienced their existence as broken, suffering, without meaning and hurtling toward death. In this way the one being crucified was made to experience nihilism in the most visceral, material and horrific way. Those who were crucified were utterly de-worlded, placed outside the walls (quite literally as well as symbolically) and left to experience their last hours in an ocean of unrelenting suffering.

So then, when Paul preaches ‘Christ Crucified’ and speaks of the body of believers as the ‘refuse of the world’ he is saying that the body of believers are the ones who participate in this experience in some deeply existential way (and often in a deeply material way too).

This view can be described as a new form of universalism for at least two reasons. Firstly, every universalism provides a mode of thought that renders previously solid distinctions into thin air. They encompass a previous binary that was, up until that time, taken as absolute.

Here Paul writes of a community that transcends the seemingly natural and absolute division of his day that existed between Jew and Gentile. In this new category of the Pauline outsider whether you were a Jew or Gentile became unimportant. What was important was the experience of the Cross, i.e. the experience of existing outside the tribal communities you were a part of.

Secondly it is a form of universalism in the way that it relates to a human reality that is open to all. To understand this let us recall Sartre’s famous reflection on a Parisian waiter. He once saw a waiter who was so absorbed in his role as a waiter that he seemed to define himself in terms of that job. Sartre wrote of how this young man was acting in a mode of inauthenticity because he was not embracing the reality that he cannot be contained by the roles he plays in life.

In the same way the various identities that we adopt are useful, but we miss something vital about our humanity if we act as if we are fully defined by them. The problem is that we do not want to embrace this insight because it is terrifying to do so. It is terrifying because the various beliefs and roles we adopt help us to feel like masters of our own universe, they protect us from the experience of chaos and give us a type of compass that can direct our activity.

Yet Paul calls us to fully face up to and enter into the truth that we are all naked, broken and hurtling toward death. He is calling us to identify with Christ on the Cross and thus embrace a profound experience of nihilism. But the trick is that in facing up to and embracing ourselves as outsiders in this way we actually find a form of liberation and freedom Paul knew as Resurrection life.

If we were to attempt to reflect Paul’s insight (that we are the trash of the world, the excremental remainder that has no place) in a church environment what might that look like? Perhaps it would involve rituals, music and preaching that caused us to question what we take for granted. Perhaps it would mean learning from, leaning toward and reaching out to the people who live day to day as the trash of the world. Just perhaps it would involve an hour in our week where we lay down the various political, religious and cultural narratives that protect us from looking at our own brokenness and allow it to be brought to light. Not so that it will have power over us, but so that its power over us will be broken. For when we suppress our darkness it always comes out in other ways.

For example, if a church leader wants to have an affair yet prohibits himself from doing so the prohibition might work in stopping the primary act, but it will not overcome the desire. Rather the prohibition will simply reallocate the desire (e.g. in hatred of his partner, drinking, self-loathing etc.). It is only when one is in a community where the desires can be acknowledged that they begin to lose their power.



In essence, our brokenness is universal, as is our healing through the Cross of Christ. Both sin and redemption bear universal trademarks knowing no distinction amongst men.

- skinhead

Preview: John Walton's, "The Lost World of Genesis"

In order to properly evaluate the Genesis 1-2/3 Creation record, Scot McKnight offers John Walton's academic text as a reference point and immediately sets out that Genesis 1 is not about the creation of a material cosmology from nothing (void), but of the ordering of materials into functions (known as a functional ontology). This is not to say that God did not create the "void" of Genesis conceptually as Creator-God from which creation sprang (in support of Theism), but it is to say with affirmation that God re-ordered the chaos of creation to his designs to function according to his will. Further, that God is now managing and re-creating that creative-void so that all things will be brought into submission to his will, and into a final stage of completion when sin and death have been removed. (For further discussions re ex-nihlo creation see Theistic vs. Process Theology - http://relevancy22.blogspot.com/2011/08/process-theology-terence-fretheim.html ).

And secondly, that the cosmology is ordered or designed in such a way as to become God's temple from which he may dwell with his eikons (man, as God's image bearers). And that by the end of the seventh day God had completed all the tasks of ordering the cosmology, declaring it as good, and marking it as his final Creative Day of Inauguration wherein He may dwell amongst his creation once marked by a void and disorderliness.

I am recording this article to keep in mind these significant themes of the Genesis account that have been reviewed in earlier articles, and will certainly appear in future abstracts to come, when discussing the relevancy of Israel's creation story in terms of their national heritage as a people of God, chosen by God, to bear God's image to a sinful world. And by escatological extension, the church, as an expanded people of God who bear God's image to a sinful world, in revelatory fullness of the Christ-event both as apocalyptic hope and as man's completing the Inauguration of the God-event.

- skinhead


Seven Days that Divide the World 2

by Scot McKnight
September 12, 2011

One of the most interesting books I read in the last few years is Wheaton professor John Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. Reduced to two points, Walton argues that (1) Genesis 1 is not about the origins of materials (like creating light out of nothing) but ordering of materials into functions so they fit into God’s ordered system for the cosmos; that’s the first point of his book. (2) the second makes clear what this “order” is all about: the cosmos is designed by God to be God’s cosmic temple. So, the book argues Genesis 1 is about a “functional ontology” and the created order is designed to put everything in its proper place of God’s cosmic temple. It’s an impressive, wide-ranging, and suggestive study. John Walton’s got a big academic book, which was behind this more popular version, coming out very soon from Eisenbrauns so many of the concerns or questions will be answered when we can all read the fuller explanations of each point.

Until then though some will be offering criticisms, including John Lennox, professor in Mathematics at Oxford, in Lennox’s new book, Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science. I began a series on Lennox’s book a bit ago and want to jump to an appendix in the book because it takes on Walton and, since I just taught Walton’s book, I wanted to see what Lennox had to say.

In essence, he doesn’t agree with Walton. I’m not persuaded his first major criticism, dealing with Walton’s points about function, are as clear as he could have been but I will do my best to present Lennox’s study as clearly as possible.

What do you think of Lennox’s criticisms of Walton? And, what do you think of Walton’s two big points above?

Lennox thinks Genesis 1 is better explained as the creation of materials and not just the “creation” or establishment of functions of previously existing matter. Then he discusses several items — “heaven and earth” and “great sea creatures” and “human beings” — and says these are matters. But I’m not sure Lennox sees what I see in Walton when it comes to the meaning of function. Walton sees a tapestry in which each item must be understood in terms of the whole, while Lennox wants to separate the items and see each in its own verse. A big distinction for Walton is “functions” in Days 1-3 and “functionaries” in Days 4-6, so that to say “human beings” are material misses the point that they are the culmination of the functions as those who are the functionaries, esp for what is created on Day 3. By atomizing the elements it appears to me Lennox misses the tapestry into which the items fit. The big picture is cosmic temple; the items are designed within that system; humans too.

It is true that Walton’s book does not establish or develop in detail what bara / ”create” meant when he says it concerns not so much materials but functions, and I saw that when I read this book — but at that time I knew John had a bigger book in the works (and it was the basis for this one) and I said, “I can wait to see if he can prove that.”

Then Lennox pushes Hebrews 1’s and John 1’s creation expressions into Walton’s thesis, and concludes that Walton’s thesis for Genesis 1 doesn’t fit the overall creation theology of the Bible. Well, I’d say — even as a NT scholar — I’d want to be careful about pushing either John 1 or Hebrews 1 onto the page of Genesis 1 because there’s no reason the authors all need to be talking about the same thing. So, for me, those two texts don’t count. What does count, is what Genesis 1 means in the ancient near east. Lennox offers nothing by way of rebuttal from that world.

Nor is Lennox convinced of the cosmic temple hypothesis: he doesn’t think Walton establishes his case for Genesis 1 being the creation of the cosmos as a cosmic temple. Folks connect Genesis 1-2/3 to Exodus 39. He pushes Walton for not citing sufficient evidence, and again — yes — but Walton’s got the big academic approach coming out. Oddly, Lennox doesn’t like that Walton uses Isa 66:1-2 since it comes from a later date, which didn’t stop Lennox from using Hebrews 1 and John 1 against Walton in the previous point. It’s methodological and it’s historical. 1 Kings 8:27 is mentioned too, and Lennox is unpersuaded.

Lennox then says these texts press materiality, but again — if one says the cosmos is a temple — we are not talking materiality so much as functionality since it functions as a grand metaphorical perception of the cosmos itself. Lennox flat-out surprised me when he said God doesn’t actually take up residence in the temple at the end of Genesis 1, but instead it is humans. Isn’t the whole point that humans are “images” and at least in part God’s representatives, and then isn’t the point that God dwells among us by setting up humans as his presence?

Lennox’s next point is about the significance of the seventh day and here is where I struggled most with what Lennox was on about. Walton emphasizes the focal point of God dwelling among us (through the image-bearers, what I call eikons) on the seventh day, and Walton sees Days 1-7 as the inauguration of God’s dwelling among us. Lennox scatters questions that don’t matter to what Walton is saying here. He wonders which days and which weeks and what inauguration means … connects this to Sabbath and says that it was materiality. Well, what I see in Walton is a week that comes to completion in the 7th day, and it is the “first” week of all — the primal week — and that’s what inauguration means.

Lennox's next concern has to do mostly with whether or not God revealed to [the] Israelites cosmological details that were unknowable at the time. I agree with Walton in the main; it gets me nervous to see some people read the Bible suggesting that God revealed things to ancient Israelite about cosmology that no one understood then — and sometimes haven’t understood until our time. But Walton says that nothing updated their scientific understanding, and this perhaps overdoes it … and it might just be easier to say “What is in the Bible is in accordance with contemporary perceptions of the cosmos.” He seems to set Lennox off to prove that at least somethings transcended ancient perceptions, which really in the end doesn’t change whether or not Genesis 1 is ancient cosmology. Lennox explores the conclusion of Edwyn Bevan and Andrew Parker, who concluded divine inspiration of Scripture through study of history and science and an uncanny accuracy in the Bible.

Another Link to Walton:

How Postmodernism has helped Evangelical Christianity

"...They have not known nor understood: for they have shut their eyes and cannot see;
they have shut their hearts and cannot understand." (Isaiah 44.18)

In this article Kyle Roberts shows the benefits of postmodernistic theology in its confrontation with Evangelic theology as he urges its followers to become more authentic in their Christian heritage; more engaged with minority theologies and suppressed Christian voices; more accepting and embracing of the richness of plurality within Christianity's global church groups; and more willing to show an epistemic humility when doing the work of hermeneutics and theology.

Furthermore, Evangelic Christianity have been given a tremendous advantage by postmodernistic Christianity's pronounced objectives of bringing to an end evangelicalism's absorption of modernity which needed destroying and replacement in its egoistic Age of Rationalism; its entitlement attitudes before all other Christian and religious groups; its oppressive posturings proclaiming restrictive fiats and dogmas in condemnation upon non-Calvinistic brethren; its over-confident proclamations of creedal and systematic propositions in apprehension of the Divine personage and mystery; and, its willingness to embrace a form of cultural supremacy that has led to idolatry among Evangelic Christians in this Age of Enlightenment known as Modernity. Accordingly, Postmodernism has restored a rightful and necessary re-balancing to the Age of Modernity as the Church enters into a new era in the 21st Century perhaps to be known as the "Age of Authenticity" replacing both modernity and postmodernity as their cultural equivalents.

Lastly, I would note that though Emergent Christianity has embraced postmodernism, it is not, however, fully defined by postmodernism. Rather, a broader definition of Emergent Christianity would be that of forward-looking Christians wishing to leave Evangelistic modernity and actively exploring fuller expressions of God and their personal relation to the Divine, to one another, and to the world at large, in the 21st Century. So that whether this new era is known as "Postmodernism," or as "An Age of Authentication" or even as "An Era of Participatory Community," it will have the following distinctives:

  • it will have examined modernism in relationship to postmodern Christianity;
  • moved to a more authenticating form of Christianity within its belief structures; and,
  • centered its efforts in participatory communities celebrating the life of Jesus to both                                the world as well as within its own faith fellowships.

So that by whatever era or time period the Church is in (or, entering), Emergent Christianity is positioning itself to speak within that epistemic/philosophic period to bear Christ to the nations through ministry and proclamation.

R.E. Slater
September 12, 2011

* * * * * * * * * *

Postmodernism: Still Alive, Still Prophetic

If we are really entering the twilight of postmodernism,
there may still be time for evangelicals to learn its lessons.

by Kyle Roberts
September 6, 2011

Every now and again, someone declares that this year the Vikings are going to win the Super Bowl or the Cubs the World Series. Eventually, given enough time and enough predictions, someone is likely to be right. (Well, perhaps not about the Cubs.)

Similarly, now and again someone declares the "death of postmodernism." Someone will eventually be right. Collin Hansen, taking his cue from a recent Prospect essay, "Postmodernism is Dead," is the latest evangelical to happily proclaim its demise. Hansen's piece raises a number of points for potentially fruitful dialogue, as church leaders consider whether or not the age of postmodernism is over and done, or whether it still has some prophetic and instructive work to do.

In the Prospect essay, author Edward Docx suggests that an upcoming art exhibit at London's Victoria and Albert Museum, "Postmodernism—Style and Subversion 1970-1990," signals the demise of an era. In the field of art, Docx notes, postmodernism was a flurry of subversive irony. Its energy couldn't last, as lesser lights sought to carry the torch and as criteria for aesthetic judgment gave way to the almighty dollar. On a grander scale, he notes, postmodernism was an intellectual and cultural movement that emerged in response to dissatisfactions with modernity. It was, Docx says, a "high-energy revolt, an attack, a strategy for destruction."

Words like "revolt" and "destruction" have captured the imagination of postmodernism's detractors, many who do not sufficiently distinguish between culture-making practices like art, cinema, and literature and their intellectual backdrop, postmodern thought. The cultural practices and the "isms" informing them are sometimes distinguished as "postmodernity" and "postmodernism," respectively.

Postmodern thought is an array of attitudes, objectives, and standpoints notoriously difficult to pin down, not so much because it is "fuzzy" but because it is complex and variegated. In the popular Christian imagination, postmodernism is rather simple (and as Hansen suggests, even "all-encompassing"): it's the deconstruction of truth and the exaltation of relativism, the abandonment of meaning and the glory of nihilism, and the loss of the word in favor of the amorphous image. For its admirers, postmodernism is the savior of authenticity, dialogue, and serenity; for its critics, it's the enemy of truth, biblical revelation, and of Christianity.

Hansen can't seem to decide, however, whether postmodernism runs against the notion of biblical revelation or whether it has aided in its recovery. On one hand, he says, "thanks to the effects of postmodernism, no longer do Enlightenment philosophies claim they can compile all human knowledge by means of reason apart from revelation." On the other hand, he warns, Christian advocates of postmodernism have lost the basis for truth. This basis, Hansen suggests, can be found in Scripture. Critics of postmodernism, however, often forget that it was Modernism that undermined trust in revelation; higher criticism, Rationalism/philosophical skepticism, deism, etc., were Enlightenment enterprises. While certainly not all postmodernists are Christians (or even theists), postmodernism on the whole has made room for revelation, paradox, and mystery.

For many thinkers and church leaders, postmodernism has been a friendlier cultural and intellectual context for Christianity than was modernism. Aspects and attitudes emerging from the postmodern turn include epistemic humility, tolerance of diversity and difference, hermeneutical richness and complexity. Numerous postmodern thinkers (if not the most radical ones) repeatedly argue that "standpoint epistemology," multiple discourses, and hermeneutical indeterminacy does not amount to relativism or lead to nihilism. Among those who have accepted the postmodern turn, the recognition of contextuality, epistemic finitude, and the significance of perspective enabled a breakthrough in engagement with minority theologies and formerly suppressed (and oppressed) voices.

Hansen glossed over a striking concession in Docx's essay: postmodernism, by de Marginalized and subordinate groups were given voice, in large part thanks to the postmodern turn. In this respect, it is not contradictory, as Hansen suggests, to find postmodernists seeking justice. For the patriarch of deconstruction, Jacques Derrida, "deconstruction is justice."

Hansen is certainly correct that it is, in the end, the Gospel that matters. The paradox of the God-man and the salvation he offers to the world is our central concern, our focal point as Christians. But if anything, postmodernism as applied to Christian theology has helped evangelicals remember that Christ is just that: a paradox who offers himself to be appropriated by faith (not by Rationality). And he offers himself first and foremost as a person, not a proposition.

Postmodernity, at least as it has been appropriated within evangelical Christian theological discourses and church practices (e.g., the Emergent Church), has aimed toward authenticity; patience with plurality; contentment with hermeneutical limitations and theological incompleteness; in sum, toward epistemic humility. These qualities are not inconsistent with a Gospel-informed life of Christian discipleship.

It is tempting for evangelicals to triumphantly declare that the wicked witch is dead, so we can go back to the Kansas we once knew. But dead, dying, or still kicking, the prophetic lessons of postmodernism should not be forgotten in the face of the inevitable increase of plurality and difference in our neighborhoods, towns, and urban centers. Postmodernism has given us conceptual tools with which to fight against our natural tendency to have the last word, to lean on our own presumed certainty of knowledge, and to subsume particularity under a totalizing homogeneity. If we have entered the twilight of postmodernity—which may or may not be the case—it would be a shame if it came and went without really understanding it.

Postmodernism will indeed eventually give way to something else. If it is, as Doxc suggests, the "Age of Authenticity," then it will be, at least in part, due to postmodernism's persistent critique of our natural tendency toward idolatry (cf, Peter Rollins, "The Idolatry of God, Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction"). In this sense, the lessons of postmodernity are consistent, as Hansen rightly acknowledges, with the teaching of the Apostle Paul: we see through a mirror dimly (1 Cor. 13:12). We are finite, fallen, and broken. And we are still not in Kansas anymore. But if we are really entering the twilight of postmodernism, there may still be time to learn its lessons.

For further resources geared toward Christians engaging and understanding postmodernity, see:

Kyle RobertsKyle Roberts is Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology and Lead Faculty of Christian Thought, Bethel Seminary (St. Paul, MN). He researches and writes on issues related to the intersection of theology, philosophy, and culture. Follow Kyle Roberts' reflections on faith and culture at his blog or via Twitter.

Roberts' column, "Theological Provocations," is published every second Tuesday on the Evangelical portal. Subscribe via email or RSS.