I just finished reading Stanley Grenz' Renewing the Center this past week. Grenz traces the roots of Evangelicalism and then shows the trajectory of (neo)evangelicalism since then in two streams. In my own words I would call these theologians in the two different lines:
1. Protectors (of what they believe to be apparent orthodoxy, typically spending time trying to establish boundaries)
1st Generation - Carl F.H. Henry
2nd Generation - Millard Erickson
3rd Generation - Wayne Grudem
2. Pioneers (those who wish to explore the countryside inside the boundaries in following the example of the reformers)
1st Generation - Bernard Ramm
2nd Generation - Clark Pinnock
3rd Generation - John Sanders
I love the fact that Grenz does not polarize or belittle either of the two streams within evangelicalism. He is able to critique and examine both streams thoughtfully engaging with their primary works and shows how all of these men had/have a passion for engaging the times in which they live. Grenz ends with a call for (using Hans Frei's phrase) a generous orthodoxy (which Mclaren picked up and ran with) within evangelicalism instead of constantly trying to define evangelical orthodoxy in fundamentalist terms. Evangelicalism is a broad and diverse group of thinkers and theologians where there is room to think, to change, and to challenge traditional understandings. The boundaries are large and there is plenty of room for diversity theologically. That is why even Clark Pinnock who is an open theist, annihilationist, and an inclusivist can still be a part of the Evangelical Theological Society! I disagree with all three of those things, but he is still a brother in Christ. This was a good reminder that Clark's theology is not what saves him, nor even is his understanding of the atonement what saves him, but it is Jesus Christ who saves him.
I also love the fact that Grenz has such a strong ecclesiology. Theology serves the church.
"...the goal of doctrinal formulation is to facilitate both conversion and the pursuit of the convertive life. In short theology is a second-order conversation that seeks to serve the mission of the church, which is understood as a people who proclaim and live out the biblical narrative of God's saving action in Christ through the Spirit."
Going even further Grenz states, "The goal of reading the text, therefore, is to hear the Spirit's voice and to be formed into that community. Consequently, reading the text is a community event." Then he quotes Walter Klaasen, "The text can be properly understood only when disciples are gathered together to discover what the Word has to say to their needs and concerns."
Quoting James McClendon, "Theology is always theology of the community, not just of the individual Christian."
Do you agree with McClendon's statement?