Skipping The Next Reformation -- By: Mark R. Stevenson

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 15:2 (Winter 2006)
Article: Skipping The Next Reformation
Author: Mark R. Stevenson


Skipping The Next Reformation1

A Review Article

Mark R. Stevenson

Mark Stevenson is a faculty member at Emmaus Bible College and the Book Review Editor of The Emmaus Journal.

Carl Raschke, professor and chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Denver, views the advent of postmodernism as a positive development within western culture that should be welcomed with open arms. Indeed, the subtitle of Rascke’s The Next Reformationis: Why Evangelicals Must Embrace Postmodernity. Ultimately what is so attractive to Raschke about postmodernism is that it beckons Christians to do away with a rationalized faith, freeing faith to be faith. It smashes the idolatry of a philosophized religion where God is reduced to a metaphysical postulate—a necessary being for origins or morality or the like.

Targeting Conservative Evangelicalism

Raschke’s chief target throughout the book is evangelicalism, particularly conservative evangelical theologians from the post-Reformation era to the present. Indeed, one gets the impression that between the time of the Reformers to the present nothing but idolatry and arrogance have been advanced under the name of evangelical Christianity. His rhetoric is often biting and uncharitable:

The kings of ancient Israel would not acknowledge the prophetic claim that, even though they gave lip service to Yahweh, they had actually profaned the temple with the images of the gods of foreign nations. So also, contemporary evangelical theologians have not realized that, although they rhetorically maintain God’s unshakable power and

presence, they do so by following modern philosophy to midnight worship on the high places (24).

Again he blasts away:

On both the left and right, Protestantism—with its denominational, ministerial, and ecumenical councils, its political action committees, its preoccupation with palaces proffered as church buildings, its elaborate financial schemes and fund-raising—has swallowed the theology of glory with one gargantuan gulp. It has buttressed these totally worldly ambitions with a real rationalism that aggrandizes the institution of the church and its claims at the expense of broken souls crying out for grace and forgiveness (110).

Where these criticisms are valid, God forgive us. Certainly Raschke is right to caution the church about being in bondage to rationalism or reducing faith to metaphysics. Certainly Raschke is right to warn the church about being preoccupied with political activism to the neglect of the gospel. I...

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