This is our last post on Franke’s book, The Character of Theology. Here’s my overall assessment:
The book exposes themes that penetrate deeply into the fabric of doing theology and deserves to be read, especially by students who have teachers who disagree with Franke. Some kind of endorsement, I know, but Franke puts on the tables so many issues that simply have to be discussed, and are frequently simply ignored. Not fair to students.
The purpose of theology is to participate in the work of the Spirit by assisting the community of Christ’s followers in its missional vocation to live as the people of God, namely, as a Christ-centered missional community, in the particular social-historical context in which it is situated. Within that Spirit-led task, theology will always pursuse unity and truth. [Those who get bent out of shape by the emerging leaders denying truth, need to read this last chapter and listen to what is being said more carefully.]
Again, the above is a quote from p. 188 and sums up the chapter.
Franke locks horns with the issue of community and individualism, and does a good job of surveying how both terms are understood today. Communities have a shared frame of reference, a group focus in an ongoing conversation, and the group shapes a person’s identity.
A person’s identity is shaped by the community narrative that is constitutive. This reminds me of the conversion theorists who say conversion is whatever a community says it is. The community focus derives from the social God (here is indebted to Grenz). [Someone may know, but Franke avoids perichoresis — know why?]
Franke ends the book on the themes of diversity (a real good section here) and on how beliefs are justified, and he simply avoids the typical approach to this and finds it in a postfoundational mode: an ongoing participatory process involving convictional communities rather than something to be accomplished objectively in a once-for-all fashion. Most will see what he is getting at here. The Spirit shapes justification of beliefs.
Overall, I really like this book and hope you all buy it.