Grenz, Stanley J., and John R. Franke. Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in a Postmodern Context. 1st ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.

The Authors

Stanley J. Grenz

While in the pastorate (1979-1981), Grenz taught courses both at the University of Winnipeg and at Winnipeg Theological Seminary (now Providence Seminary). He served as Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics at the North American Baptist Seminary, Sioux Falls, South Dakota from 1981-1990. For twelve years (1990-2002), Grenz held the position of Pioneer McDonald Professor of Baptist Heritage, Theology and Ethics at Carey Theological College and at Regent College in Vancouver. After a one-year sojourn as Distinguished Professor of Theology at Baylor University and George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas (2002-2003), he returned to Carey in August 2003 to resume his duties as Pioneer McDonald Professor of Theology. In fall 2004, he assumed an additional appointment as Professor of Theological Studies at Mars Hill Graduate School, Seattle, Washington. From 1996 to 1999 he carried an additional appointment as Professor of Theology and Ethics (Affiliate) at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lombard, Illinois.

Grenz’ primary contributions were made discussing how evangelical Christianity ought to relate to the world. He wrote on a wide range of subjects, from sexuality to history to basic apologetics, and was one of North America’s leading evangelical voices in the late 20th century and early 21st century. (( (Accessed August 29, 2013)))

John R. Franke

John R. Franke is Theologian in Residence at First Presbyterian Church of Allentown, PA, and the General Coordinator for the Gospel and Our Culture Network. He holds the DPhil degree from the University of Oxford and is particularly interested in engaging postmodern thought and culture from the perspective of missional Christian faith. (( (accessed September 9, 2013)))

My Summary

Grenz and Franke propose a theological methodology that will move beyond the foundationalism that dominated the modern era and embrace the constructive postmodern critique of rationalism. They expose that the typical “liberal/conservative” dichotomy is the product of the modern dogma of rationality. Both liberals and conservatives—in the wake of the Enlightenment—were seeking a foundation of universal knowledge, albeit from opposite sides of the epistemological spectrum, upon which to construct a theory that would integrate and encompass all religions for all times. Liberals sought foundation on human/religious experience, with the self as single subject. Conservatives sought foundation on an error-free Bible, with objective knowledge as a single substance. Grenz and Franke embrace postfoundational epistemology and propose a chastened rationality that seeks the construction of meaning through the communality of the Spirit moving in the particularities of cultures and traditions over time.

Their methodology is formed in two parts. First, theology is seen as a conversation between three things—Scripture, Tradition, and Culture. Scripture is the instrumentality of the Spirit speaking through the text and the listener. Tradition is the ongoing conversation of the church around the speaking of the Spirit that has a forward hermeneutical trajectory. Culture is the particularity of time and place in which the Spirit speaks. Secondly, theology has three focal motifs—Trinitarian structure, Communitarian character, and Eschatological orientation. The Social Trinity and its relational ontology support an egalitarian, mutually communicative structure for the church and theological method. The perichoretic power of the Trinity constitutes the communitarian character of the church and theology. The futurity of God’s eschatological hope keeps all knowledge provisional and promotes open dialogue as the universe awaits God’s creative movement and reconciliation.

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