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5.0 out of 5
ISBN/ASIN : 0830822283
Manufacturer : InterVarsity Press|
Release data : 01 April, 2000
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Subverting the virtual with ACTUAL Reality !
Groothuis does an excellent job in debunking "postmodern" evangelical theological forays while concurrently defending and explicating historic Christianity. Acknowledging Francis Schaeffer and Carl F.H. Henry as paradigmatic influences in his own life, Groothuis is not ashamed to be identified (in our present "innovative" melieu) with such stalwarks that many in the christian academy would probably consider "passe".
His trenchant and insuperable criticisms of the logical fallacies, inconsistancies, and pedantic hubris of Stanley Grenz, William Willimon, Philip Kenneson, J.Richard Middleton, Brian Walsh, Lesslie Newbigin, and Nancey Murphy is sure to route this cadre back to their proverbial "drawing board".His reminder that they naively conscript atheist postmodern theoriticians into their cause additionally exposes them as victims of a "guilded" plausabilty crisis and a "loss of nerve" for the cause of Christ.
Douglas Groothuis valiantly and convincingly restates the True Truth that is Christianity and "Truth Decay" demands a reading from all of those that would be faithful in our time in "contending for the faith once for all delievered to the saints"!
Maybe a few of the aforementioned interlocutors could get Groothuis to provide autographed copies; that is if their not afraid of having their "virtual" subverted by Gods actual reality.
For the Most Part, Excellent
Groothuis has done a good job in this book of profiling postmodernism and discrediting it in light of its devastating theories on truth and living. In the process, he does a good job of affirming the reality of universal truth and showing how Christianity's worldview best honors absolute truth in comparison to other worldviews, most notably postmodernism.
This book is an attempt to touch on various aspects of the postmodernist issue. Groothuis spends a good deal of time deconstructing the postmodernist objection to universal truth and its embrace of 'cultural truths', along with the worldview's inability to provide any basis for the many presuppositions it makes. He also analyzes the massive internal inconsistencies prevalent throughout postmodern thought and eloquently demonstrates that many adherents to postmodernism tend to be first in line to fail the litmus tests of their own worldview. He also analyzes the issue of whether language can express truths beyond itself, which is a common assertion among prominent postmodernists. Groothuis also spends a chapter looking at the dangerous apologetics that some prominent Christians have developed which resemble postmodernist thinking. In many of these areas, Groothuis's analysis is thorough and excellent, with an emphasis on heavy quotation from those he is critiquing.
Although somewhat minor, I must also say that I thought the cover of the paperback was outstanding. The cover depicts a barren landscape, almost a wasteland. This illustration is very applicable to the postmodern worldview. After reading this book, I think quite a few readers will rightly conclude that postmodernism is an extremely depressing and hopeless way of thinking about the world and its inhabitants. In many ways, the impression I got from Groothuis's book is that postmodernism is really on a quest to devalue almost everything under the guise that we don't really know anything. Groothuis's quote from Dorothy Sayers about halfway through the book is one of the best quotes I've ever heard about the futility of the postmodernist outlook on life and truth. Utterly devastating.
I debated whether to give the book 4 or 5 stars. I opted for 5, but I will note a couple of regrets I have about the book that do not diminish the overall rating but are regrets nonetheless. First, Groothuis's analysis of postmodernism appears pretty confined to the atheistic/agnostic wing of postmodernism. And while I certainly appreciated his appraisal in this area, I think Groothuis would have really hit a homerun if he had also taken some time to analyze the spiritual postmodernism that is rampant as well. In many ways, the spirituality aspect of postmodernism is more important than the non-spiritual aspect. New Age spirituality draws heavily from postmodernism and this phenomenon is more prevalent than atheistic postmodernism, at least in America. But this is an area that Groothuis does not explore. Lastly, Groothuis's defense of egalitarianism against the charge of postmodernism is highly subjective in a way that the rest of the book is not. Groothuis and his wife are well known advocates of egalitarianism, and this advocacy is clearly prominent in this section. This would have been okay had Groothuis's analysis of this issue been as honest as the rest of the book. But whereas Groothuis quotes extensively from postmodernists throughout the rest of the book, he does not quote at all from the traditionalist school within Christianity while trying to advance the school of egalitarianism. Ultimately, Groothuis does not present a fair depiction of the traditionalist school of thought (he goes so far as to summarize that traditionalism, in his opinion, is based on prejudices that are outdated, which is ad hominem and inaccurate), and this is regretable since such an approach tends to resemble postmodernism in its superficiality.
But given that these two points are minor enough that the book still stands on its own as a solid critique of postmodernism, I give the book 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who is struggling with the meaning of truth, whether truth can be authoritative and universal, and what this means to daily living.
Best discussion of evangelical uses of postmodernism
Everyone who is interested in a Christian approach to postmodernism with applications for theology must read this book. Groothuis is the first author to provide a useful overview of postmodernism from a Christian perspective while at the same time dealing substantively with theological issues. What we have here is a nuanced evangelicalism that sees evangelical theology's recognition of the objective and propositional nature of revelatory truth in scripture, not as a sad side effect of an Enlightenment Modernist ethos, but as a traditional, indeed pre-modern viewpoint that has viability in the contemporary context. While Groothuis is not naive about the way much evangelical evidentialism has relied too heavily on Modernist categories, he manages to avoid the broad strokes painted by authors like Grenz and McGrath, who at times seem to think that the very concept of scriptural infallibility itself is an Enlightenment construct, rather than the premodern notion that it is.
This book is the first to reply to Stanley Grenz and Alister McGrath in a way that does not fall prey to naive ultra-foundationalism (rather to more of a "modest foundationalism" like that of Alvin Plantinga) but at the same time does not run tail-tucked from pomo fads that evangelical theologians seem to be more scared of than anyone else (as Alan Jacobs rightly noted in his recent article in Atlantic Monthly). Unlike Grenz and McGrath (and their popular counterpart Chuck Smith, Jr.), Groothuis achieves a balance: he recognizes the importance of understanding the postmodern condition and even learning from it, without selling out to it.
One only hopes that Groothuis's next project will be his own book along the lines of Grenz's Renewing the Center, in which Groothuis will offer a more extensive version of the chapter that deals with the approaches of Grenz, McGrath, et al., and show that there is a credible way to be an evangelical in the postmodern era without scrapping the last 250 years of evangelical theological wisdom.