The Deep in the Burbs Research project is a postmodern story about navigating the treacherous waters between the Scylla of absolutism/positivism/foundationalism and the Charybdis of relativism/nihilism/deconstructivism. It is my basic assumption that these dualisms are a cause of much of our difficulty in the church today.
A dualism is when you find two polar opposite options to a single question that both have evidence for being correct. This is true in theology. Is Jesus God or human? Is it predestination or free will? Is reality physical or spiritual? Is God three or one? The answer to these questions seems to be “yes” but then common sense tells us that you can’t say “yes” to both options.read more
I use the term postfoundational and deliberately avoid the use of the term postmodern. Allow me to explain this choice. One of the biggest dualities we face in our culture today is the tension between the modern and the postmodern mindset. The term postmodern may not be the most helpful term for our discussion of spirituality in the missional suburban church. Many lay people in the church have associated the term postmodern with a negative, destructive attitude toward any form of tradition and have closed their ears to anything bearing the postmodern label. Therefore, it is important that we clarify our use of terms.read more
I believe there is a third way between the Scylla and Charybdis we face in the church today. It is a postfoundationalist theology for the missional church. The basis of the postfoundational theology is rooted in Keifert’s proposal that a reasonably adequate Christian theology is done in, with, under, against, and for the church. Kelsey explains how the modern theological school, following Schleiermacher, bifurcated practical theology from systematic theology. Systematic theology pursued the abstract, universal construct mentioned above, while practical theology trained the pastor to perform the technical duties of the civic function endemic to the office. Kelsey and Keifert, flowing from the stream of Hegel and Tillich, but moving beyond it, propose that God cannot be known directly, but only through the secondary phenomena of the particularities of the local congregation. Kelsey proposes that the theological task is a crossroads hamlet between the dialectical tension of the Athens tradition—inner spiritual development (Plato)—and the Berlin tradition—technical training, implementation and actualization (Aristotle). If one is to understand God truly, then one must investigate the concrete particularities of how the Spirit of God is drawing people together for worship and service in particular places in the world.read more
Grenz and Franke offer a helpful framework for exploring postfoundational theology. They frame it around a conversation and a focus. The conversation is a three-way conversation between the Scripture, Tradition, and the Culture. 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.read more