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I do hope you continue this study because I am really concerned about the issues you bring up here. The EC group outline a number of problems with the Church that I too see and that I too would like to see addressed. Many of my friends are working through such concepts as what is Church and we are fellowshipping in and planting house-churches. We see this as getting back to the Bible and seeing the book of Acts come back to life. I have heard many in the EC say some good things and then head off down a road that I do not understand. They talk about change and then meet in buildings and form organizations that look remarkably like what we have- only they take 'baptist' off the sign as if that is a 95 Thesis kind of decision. I don't get it- or don't understand it. The old axiom must be readdressed:
We need change
This is change
Therefore we must do it.
So, thanks for these posts. Let us embrace all the change that the Holy Spirit is asking us to embrace and reject 'radical new thinking' as a substitute for being spirit led and Bible based.


Strider, you might be interested in "Beyond Radical" by Gene Edwards. The book lives up to its title. I read it, and it was wonderful. I'm interested in the house church movement, getting away from clergy/laity distinctions (but not from spiritual giftedness revealed by the Spirit), and especially getting away from the drudgery of the standard order of worship, which at times can quench the Spirit.

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Graham Ward edited the Blackwell Readings in Modern Theology titled The Postmodern God. You would find his introductory article helpful for evaluating the way Jones' employs postmodern in relationship to theology. Ward contends "postmodern" theology is theology in service to the postmodern ethos. Postmodern "theology" is theology that rises above philosophy or any dominate platform to speak into any age, era or epoch. As such he contends theology may always, in a sense, be postmodern. It is this second stream, that I believe Tony would be supporting.

I cannot find Ward's article online and you may not prefer to buy the book just for the chapter. But, thought I might interject some of my own discoveries exploring theology in a postmodern context, as opposed to tied to postmodern philosophy.

Another helpful little book you would likely find an interesting read, Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Derrida, Foucault and Lyotard to Church. James K.A. Smith is connected to the Radical Orthodoxy movement in theology and is Reformed in his theology. It is a fun and helpful read. With your background in philosophy I think you would enjoy it.

peter lumpkins


Thanks for the stimulating comment, not to mention the recos to consider. I admit I am new to the EC literature and, consequently, I may not have considered enough but to make tentative assessments.

You cited Ward's view of Postmodern theology as servant to the ethos of postmodernism. That sounds right on the face of it (perhaps I can locate him in the library).

Albeit I do have difficulty understanding this:

"Postmodern "theology" is theology that rises above philosophy or any dominate platform to speak into any age, era or epoch."

From my reading of Jones, it's hard to accept that as a working assessment. Far from rising above philosophical influence or platform, Jones marvels at it!

Indeed, for Jones and Jones' circle, the postmodern philosophical grid, which thoroughly rejects both empiricism and rational engagement, the new way of being and thinking Christian is akin to Thomas Kuhn's "paradigm shift".

Not only does EC not rise above postmodern philosophy, it gathers all its eggs into the postmodern, philosophical basket.

With that, I am...


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Ward postulates any theological construct runs the risk of being tied to a given philosophical framework. The late Leslie Newbigin borrowed from Berger, noting the version of Christian apologetics he encountered sought to fight the battle on the grounds laid by others but failed miserably. He notes any era, epoch, or period runs the risk of giving into the prevailing plausibility structures.

No doubt the EC cannot escape this tendency either. However, I do not read Jones' the same way. They may employ some postmodern sensibilities but to adopt it hook line and sinker is a mis-characterization. I will quickly say some may well do so, but Jones does not.

Maybe another read to consider in this vein would be Jack Caputo's Philosophy and Theology. Caputo may well offer, though I cannot speak definitively, something of what Ward describes. That is not to say you or I would "buy" it; but it is not as simple as you suggest.

Jones' makes confident assertions in his book, that to say he denies empiricism and rational engagement "seems" to be a presupposition brought to his book.

You may consider an e-mail to Tony and interview him for this review. I would not be surprised if he responded hoping to fill out some of your questions.

And, as you have demonstrated in this series, you can be critical without being condescending, so include that in the email and it may go much further. I look forward to more of your take.

And, yes, I have read the book, including an advance copy for review.

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I re-read that comment and if you would please edit my previous comment. There are not a few typos or omissions that would make it more readable,

peter lumpkins


Thanks. Of course, I struggled precisely how to word my assessment of Jones when I wrote "for Jones and Jones' circle, the postmodern philosophical grid, which thoroughly rejects both empiricism and rational engagement, the new way of being and thinking Christian is akin to Thomas Kuhn's "paradigm shift". Yet, in light of your comment and now looking back, that wasn't half bad.

The way I'm reading, postmodernism dealt a fatal blow to enlightenment principles--the first major philosophical shift in four or five centuries (p.68). This is a key that Jones continues to turn throughout the book. Another key on his chain is the outright rejection of foundationalism, which seems also to be wed to the former.

I am willing to read Jones without reading into him my own biases as you fear I may be so doing (And, I may be). On the other hand to place overlays of so many other authors onto Jones book not only endangers the message of Jones himself--after all, Jones is pretty clear in his writing--it also accelerates an anti-postmodern ethos by crusting over Jones work. That is, why dig up a crust of my own making?

Besides, I could just as easily laid over Jones, D.A Carson's interpretative lens, which, I'm told, is a devastating critique of postmodernism. I plan to wade through Carson when I finish Jones. I've had Carson for sometime but I've never really engaged his book.

Thanks again for the chat. With that, I am...


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Point taken. Jones' should be judged on his own merits/words.

My intent is to draw out that there is so much more to both Jones and what he attempts in his book and so the other reading suggestions. It should not be without critique of course and I am enjoying your working through whether I come to the same conclusions or not.

No need to create a crust, but amplification is never a bad thing either when the scope of a given book is both memoir and theological description. TNC is hardly Jones' definitive work on his theological moorings.

And, when you get to Carson, I will be watching. He does do a job on Postmodernism. But, in my reading he critiques "hard postmodernism" and none of those he includes in his critique would self-identify as hard postmoderns.

peter lumpkins


Cool. I probably will have another post or two on TNC and let it rest awhile.

Also, I see your point about Carson and I cannot say I disagree.

EC's literature base is swelling at a fairly rapid rate, turbo-charging the "datedness" of critiques, even as late as the early 2000s. Carson's, if I recall, is 03, yet he focuses as you rightly point out, on a lot of the earlier thinkers. Maybe a review would force him into a revision (just kidding).

One thing I do recall from not only Jones, but other ECers as well, is the consistent pattern in outright dismissing critics like Carson by accusation of "vitriolic" language. I have not digested the Carson critique, as I said, but reading some of Carson's other works, it's going to be hard to convince me that EC possesses a valid, fair assessment of Carson.

Carson is an eminent biblical scholar, astute philosopher-theologian, and an extremely capable thinker who does not need to stoop to such elementary tactics in order to make a case. And, given Jones offered no dialog with Carson's criticism, but instead only the accusation, may very well reveal the cards in Jones' hands. We'll see.

I have thoroughly enjoyed our short chat, Todd. Grace always.

With that, I am...


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