the generous orthodoxy think tank communal blog, a way-too-smart collective of thinkers and theologians, who regularly post about stuff i can barely understand, has a great post today. it’s a book review, by roger olson, theology prof at truett, of john franke’s new book, the character of theology.

i might try to read john’s book. but i’m quite confident it will be a way-tough read for me. but i can understand most of olson’s review! and i really connected with this quote from the book:

“Nonfoundationalist theology does not eschew convictions and commitments; it simply maintains that all such convictions and commitments, even the most long-standing and dear, remain subject to ongoing critical scrutiny and the possibility of revision, reconstruction and or even rejection.” (p. 78)

this quote so resonates with my approach to truth, scripture and revelation. even today, my wife and i have been wrestling (not literally, freak) with how to respond to a friend who is wrestling with us about “speaking truth” to another friend who is wrestling with a major life issue and, we believe, really needs to hear the truth that jesus loves him. yeah, i know that was cryptic. deal with it.

i think this little quote puts a finger on the bulging vein of quite a few discussions i’ve had recently. people with whom i do not actually disagree on a particular theological issue, but whom i still find taking an argumentative positition with me when talking about that issue. that bulging vein, i’m realizing, is that i’m nonfoundationalist in my approach to a particular theological “bit” and the other person, maybe, is foundationalist; and even if we are currently standing on the same square, our approach to and belief about the role of that square is subtly different. and that’s where we experience an almost-non-definable rub. (i suppose if you stand too close to someone on a square, rub is bound to happen!)

but i can’t exactly say, in these situations, “oh, well, you’re a foundationalist, and i’m a nonfoundationalist. so there.”

5 thoughts on “nonfoundationalism”

  1. that is soooo cool. i can totally relate. this quote and your story helps me understand a little more of what has been happening in some recent conversations of mine.

  2. this comment isn’t so much about this post in general, as it is about the blog in whole. i just linked to you from Church Marketing Sucks. i enjoy reading your writings…some good stuff. glad i found it. nice theme too.

    by the way…you might remember me from several years ago from a certain “gen x” service at a certain church in pasadena, ca. i used to play your “pink” strat sometimes.

  3. oh my gosh, pat! how cool to re-connect with you! i had no idea you were behind “church marketing sucks”. and, for the record — my guitar was (and remains) “burgandy mist”, not pink!

  4. I resonate with what you are saying. I think there is a sense in a lot of circles that we need to hold our theological convictions and beliefs with a little more humility than we do as well.

    So I tend to agree with people, but want to argue with them anyway because they seem so damned sure of themselves.

  5. no…not behind CMS…just a reader. i should clarify that i clicked on a link at their site to get here. my bad about the “pink” thing. it’s hard to tell…when you get that close to that color, the lines between “pink” and “burgandy mist” are kind blurred.

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