Revising evangelical theological method in the postmodern context: Stanley J. Grenz and Kevin J. Vanhoozer as test cases
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SubjectGrenz, Stanley J. (Stanley James), 1950-2005--Contributions in theology
Vanhoozer, Kevin J.--Contributions in theology
Theology, Doctrinal--History--21st century
This dissertation examines the theological diversity that is currently developing within North American evangelicalism due to the growing influence of postmodernism and the resulting postconservative shift in evangelical thought. Chapter 1 begins with an initial assessment of the historical background and intellectual landscape behind the postmodern setting as well as the reasons why many evangelicals, such as Stanley J. Grenz and Kevin J. Vanhoozer, have chosen to adopt postconservative approaches to theological method. Chapter 2 then moves to a critical analysis of these two theologians by first treating the work of Stanley Grenz. This segment evaluates his proposals regarding theological method by outlining the primary ideas and factors that lead to his version of a postmodern evangelical theology. Chapter 3 subsequently offers a survey of the contrasting ideas of Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Here again, the tracing of Vanhoozer's distinct rendition of postconservatism is done by examining the major factors that are prominent within his work. Chapter 4 then provides evaluations of the strengths and weaknesses of Grenz's and Vanhoozer's thought as well as points of comparison and contrast between them. In the end, it is argued that while both thinkers share several mutual criticisms of conservative evangelicalism, Grenz's expression of postconservatism is noticeably different from Vanhoozer's. Specifically, it is shown that Grenz clearly advocates a kind of postmodern postconservatism, which entails modifications in theological method as well certain doctrinal commitments intrinsic to historic evangelicalism. Juxtaposed to Grenz, it also is argued that Vanhoozer provides a more confessional model of postconservatism because his recommendations for a new methodology still remain loyal to certain theological commitments that Grenz would deem as non-essential to the evangelical theology. Chapter 5 finally assesses the potential future effects that certain kinds of postconservative thought could have in evangelical circles. Likewise, several key elements regarding theological method that still require further attention in light of the development of postconservatism are also highlighted and discussed.
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