The Next Reformation: Why Evangelicals Must Embrace Postmodernity. By Carl Raschke. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004. 235 pp. Paper. $19.99.
While some reviewers have intimated this book is a tough read, the opposite is true. Raschke makes Postmodernism and Postmoderns easy to understand with his many clear statements.
Faith is not rational or propositional (pp. 168-69, 210). Faith is instead an encounter, an experience, “a total surrender of one’s heart” (pp. 168, 210). “A rational ‘faith’ is not really faith at all. Faith does not require any kind of unimpeachable demonstration. It is a passion for God amid the contingencies of experience and the messiness of life in general” (p. 168). Certitude is the enemy of faith (pp. 82, 150, 168, 174).
The Bible has errors in it, yet it is authoritative (pp. 120, 134, 143). “The ‘infallible’ authority of Scripture, therefore, is not founded on the fact that it contains no ‘errors’” (p. 134). “The authority of the Bible does not rest on whether it is logically and seamlessly consistent and free of ‘errors’” (p. 143).
“A genuine systematic theology forged from the Bible is impossible” (p. 210).
“Postmodernity is all our doubts supersized” (p. 174). Raschke admits, “At first glance the prospect appears both repugnant and frightening.” For this reviewer, the more one looks at evangelical postmodernity, the greater the fear and repugnancy.
Raschke repeatedly touts charismatic Christianity and its ties to Postmodernity. “Charismatic Christianity is…thoroughly postmodern” (p. 157) and “is distinctly ‘postmodern’ in many ways” (p. 203). He gives detailed accounts of numerous charismatic services held in dark auditoriums with incense and strange music. He reports about an encounter he had with God. “I went to the front of the church and fell on my face…My storehouse was empty, and I became ‘available’ for the Spirit to work within me. I was never the same after that moment” (pp. 201-202).
We know nothing for sure, except the pronouncements that Raschke and other Postmodern Evangelicals so confidently assert.
Evangelical Postmodernity is filled with propositions, though they say that propositions are meaningless.
I highly recommend this book. It shows where the emerging church, and theological higher education, is going—into a theological black hole.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society