We have enjoyed promoting the “Church and the Postmodern Culture” series of books edited and pulled together by James K. A. Smith (whose wonderful article in Christianity Today about the blending of his Pentecostal and Calvinist traditions, Teaching a Calvinist To Dance, just thrilled me in its simple ecumenical clarity and good sense–hey, what do you expect from a bookstore called Hearts AND Minds?) Jamie is a serious post-modern scholar, also involved in the Radical Orthodoxy movement, as well. Whew.
The first small book in this series was his own brilliant Whose Afraid of Postmodernism: Taking Derrida, Lyotard and Foucault to Church, which I very highly recommend. The second was John Cuputo’s feisty (and very Christ centered) reaction to the Christian right cleverly called What Would Jesus Deconstruct? Both of these are published by Baker Academic ($17.99.)
As brief and interesting as these are, I still most often recommend Truth is Stranger Than It Used to Be: Biblical Faith in a Postmodern Age by Brian Walsh & Richard Middleton (IVP: $18–new cover, too!) Its overview of the socio-economic idolatries of modernity/ hyper-modernity and its ideology of modernism, and the subsequent culture of post-modernity and and the philosophy of post-modernism, and then the extraordinary Biblical study which forms the core of the book, makes it still my favorite book on this topic. It is the one I look to see if other Christian thinkers cite. Dr. Crystal Downing’s How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith: Questioning Truth in Language, Philosophy and Art (IVP; $18) is an excellent and quite positive overview and not only very enjoyable, but very clear. Several customers have told me that Postmodernism 101: A First Course for the Curious Christian by Heath White (Baker; $17.99) is also one of the clearest for beginners so that, too, would make an excellent introduction if you haven’t read any of the above.
The new, third one in the “Church and the Postmodern Culture” is so far the most intellectually challenging of the three, and the most seriously insistence that postmodern perspectives are essential for faithful Christian outreach in our age. GloboChrist: The Great Commission Takes a Postmodern Turn by Carl Raschke (Baker Academic; $17.99) is spectacularly fluent in the whole postmodern field, written with blunt Lutheran instincts, sort of a Bonhoeffer meets Kierkegaard interacting with Philip Jenkins and Lamin Sanneh and maybe Vinoth Ramachandra. He is remarkably fluent in Islamic scholarship, too, and draws on resources about globalization that are wide and surprising. He is deadly serious, of course, but ya gotta love a book that talks about globopomo.
Read a PDF of the introduction here. And then come back to order from us!
Rev. Raschke (PhD, Harvard University) is an author to contend with and he surprises us often with his unique insights. He has written a lot, and in his earlier contribution to the conversations about the postmodern turn is called The Next Reformation: Why Evangelicals Must Embrace Postmodernity (Baker; $22.) You can see his really serious philosophical fluency by checking out this very arcane debate about Gilles Deleuze and other contemporary theorists. Philosophy majors really ought to be paying attention to some of this important stuff although I admit it loses me…It is a blog site that brings together a variety of important theologians discussing this heady stuff.
For those who follow these things, you may want to know that Raschke has an appendix which includes a hard-hitting response to some anti-pomo critics, and a critical review of one of Brian McLaren’s books (Generous Orthodoxy) which will hopefully generate some generous conversation within, at least, the emergent village.
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