Postmodernism’s children, Postliberalism and Postconservatism, fight to find a balance between Christianity and culture to varying levels success. All the while, the reformed and scholastic tradition statically holds down the fort of orthodoxy.
Reformed and Scholastic tradition
As Christians we have the tendency to lash out at the things we don’t understand. Postmodernism is a prime candidate for attack for traditional reformed Christians. Reformed Christians believe that theology is God’s word handed to us. When theology is systematized it becomes doctrine and Postmodernism threatens that absolute standard which God reveals. These stalwarts of the faith stand against Postliberalism and Postconservatism.
Postconservatism and Postliberalism
These two theologies spawn out of the pool of Postmodernism. Postmodern theology tends to object to the emphasis of theology and doctrine that classical theism expoused. Postliberalism has moved beyond the individual and expressionistic liberalism of the past to a community centered focus. It also leaves behind the conservative camp because they are said to believe that the bible is a catalogue of propositions.
Postconservatism moves beyond a strong foundationalism, denying that as an absolute basis for truth claims. They are not liberal nor fundamental, but are evangelical. However, they differ with many evangelicals by there de-emphasis on doctrine.
Distinctives of Postconservatism
Postconservatism tends to focus on the center, the central teachings of the faith. However, they do so while steering away from foundationalism and adopting a coherence modal of truth. Believing that tradition can make Scripture a catalogue of propositions, they shy away from historical theology. Their theology is culturally informed and culturally applied.
Emergent Church and Open Theism
The emergent church and Open Theism are children of the Postconservative movement. They are the cultural application of the Postconservative movement.
There, I think, some flaws in these new theologies. First, the idea of authority becomes an issue. For Postliberalism, authority is rooted in community consensus. For Postconservatism, authority is rooted in the Spirit speaking through Scripture, which in effect de-emphasizes the sufficiency of Scripture. These are small quibbles when compared to the problem Postliberalism’s unbelief. At the center, Postliberalism is not a believing movement.
Of course, both theologies share some problems. The absolute denial of any form of foundationalism makes the search for truth near impossible and the downplayed emphasis doctrine is problematic.
Not all things which these Postmodern theologies brought is negative. Their objection to strong foundationalism is welcomed. Further, it is true that the Bible is not a book full of “propositions.” Instead, it is book of life and stories. The community emphasis of these groups is also welcomed; we are a called into fellowship as Christians. Lastly, Postconservatism’s concern that orthodoxy is accompanied by orthopraxy is very much welcomed.
There needs to be a synthesis between the classical reformed/scholastic view of theology and the Postmodern theologies. When I come up with that, I’ll post it. 😀