OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.
To be able to bring some of the best of contemporary Catholic and Evangelical scholarship together, and use both to critique postmodernism within emergent Christian thinking, is a wonderfully unusual position to be in, and a privilege to observe and digest. It blows away some of the prejudices and caricatures held by Catholics and Evangelicals alike towards each other.
While I agree with much that is said about McLaren, and the unseen dangers which part of the postmodern church is creating for the next generation of that part of the church, through its rejection of the wider church’s theological orthodoxy and tradition (Catholic and Evangelical), I wonder whether it is totally appropriate to cite Paul’s language of striving in Philippians as valid for today’s church in relation to the culture of the postmodern world. The relationship of the church towards postmodernism seems to me to be a far more complex affair, requiring more subtle adjustments.
The ‘critique from within’, to which N.T.Wright frequently refers in describing the message of the prophets towards Judaism, and ultimately the message of Jesus, seems to me to be more appropriate for the western church today in relation to culture, than outright battle or conflict (however much conflict may have been the experience of Jesus or the prophets!). The struggle suggested in Philippians seems to me to be more a struggle in the face of frequent outright hostility - from Judaism and Rome - and a struggle not to compromise in view of the overt claims of the Emperor and the ‘sweeteners’ which came with the privileges of Roman life and culture.
Once we have dealt with some fairly obvious points of conflict between some aspects of the postmodern mindset and the biblical world view (especially to do with truth and knowing), it seems to me that there is much more to be affirmed in postmodernism than opposed. Some of this is sketched out in Section III - Engaging with postmodernism; but I felt that the overall tone was of an enemy to be opposed rather than a culture offering many opportunities for the expression of a biblical faith which was more, not less, rooted in its historic origins and practice.
Nevertheless, I applaud gustavo for this contribution (copied from a contribution to another forum?), and particularly his boldness in affirming Catholic and Evangelical perspectives on a site which, on the whole, adopts a postmodern scepticism towards both. From my perspective, the contribution is an encouragement to take more seriously the broader ability of Catholic theology to view and bring into play the essential role of philosophy which underpins serious theological reflection, and to see the huge potential for trust and collaboration between Evangelicals and Catholics.
I always enjoy and appreciate people who look over the fence, and ask why we need fences between different traditions, and whether we should dismantle them.