Postfoundational Theology | A Three-Way Conversation

Beyond Foundationalism P194 (1)Grenz and Franke offer a helpful framework for exploring postfoundational theology. They frame it around a conversation and a focus.[1] The conversation is a three-way conversation between the Scripture, Tradition, and the Culture.[2] Here we are really talking about authority and meaning. Where is the basis for truth? Where is the authority? It does not lie on one solid foundation, but is in the ground of God, which cannot be ascertained directly. We can however, look through three frames to communicatively construct meaning.

The Bible is the first frame. Keifert suggests that rhetorical rationality replaces the modernist need for logical rationality when approaching the scripture. The Bible is not an object to be analyzed, but is a rhetorical device used to communicate with the original audience, and with the contemporary audience. Grenz and Franke suggest that the scripture is the instrumentality for the speaking of the Holy Spirit to the church. This is best exemplified in Keifert’s call for the church to Dwell in the Word. Dwelling in the Word is an experience in which each participant is invited, as equals, to listen to God in the reading of the text and to listen to God as the participants listen each other into free speech.

Tradition forms the next frame. The local church does not exist in a vacuum. It is the product of the stories that have come before it. The historical tradition forms the identity of the church as much as the biblical narrative forms it. The church must engage fully with its tradition to both learn from it and be set on a future-oriented trajectory by it.

Culture forms the final frame. Open systems theory has shown us that the local congregation exists within a contextual environment. This is not the shadowy, evil place of Plato’s dualistic universe. This is the creation of God, in which God works. The church is called by the Spirit of God to dwell in the world and discern what God is doing in the world and how the church should participate in God’s movement. This is why it is imperative for the church to learn how to engage in liberative, generative, communicative and prophetic dialogue as it is a companion to the reasonably friendly looking person of peace in the neighborhood.[3]

Footnotes

[1] Grenz and Franke, Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in a Postmodern Context.

[2] It might be helpful, at this point, to pause and remember our previous discussion of frames in the beginning of chapter two. All knowledge is interpreted knowledge. It is framed within the perspective of the viewer. We each bring our frame to the “great thing” around which we gather in the DITB project. I bring my frames, the RT team members each brought their frames, and you, the reader, bring your frames. I must acknowledge the reason that I am drawn to Grenz and Franke’s framing of postfoundationalism in order to help you connect to my argument. Grenz and Franke both come from an evangelical background that is similar to mine. They are scholars who are wrestling with the expansion of their frameworks in light of the hermeneutical turn of the twentieth century and the polarization between the evangelical and ecumenical theological camps in Western Christianity. I bring Grenz and Franke into conversation with Keifert in order to wrestle with my own frame-expansion into the Lutheran tradition.

[3] This is an allusion to Luke 10:6

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