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Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World

, 1999
ISBN: 9781441254177

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In a world marked by relativism, individualism, pluralism, and the transition from a modern to a postmodern worldview, evangelical Christians must find ways to re-present the historic faith.

In his provocative work, Ancient-Future Faith, Robert E. Webber contends that present-day evangelicalism is a product of modernity. Allegiance to modernity, he argues, must be relinquished to free evangelicals to become more consistently historic. Empowerment to function in our changing culture will be found by adapting the classical tradition to our postmodern time. Webber demonstrates the implications in the key areas of church, worship, spirituality, evangelism, nurture, and mission.

Webber writes, "The fundamental concern of Ancient-Future Faith is to find points of contact between classical Christianity and postmodern thought. Classical Christianity was shaped in a pagan and relativistic society much like our own. Classical Christianity was not an accommodation to paganism but an alternative practice of life. Christians in a postmodern world will succeed, not by watering down the faith, but by being a counter cultural community that invites people to be shaped by the story of Israel and Jesus."

A substantial appendix explores the development of authority in the early church, an important issue for evangelicals in a society that shares many features with the Roman world of early Christians.

Save more when you get this book as part of the Robert Webber Ancient-Future Collection (4 Vols.)!

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“In the postmodern world, this old modern battle for the Bible is no longer the primary issue. The empirical method based on modern science and reason is under question. Postmodern philosophy has shifted away from the subject/object distinction that stands behind the modern search for propositions of truth. The issue in a postmodern world is not to prove the Bible, but to restore the message of the Bible, a message which, when proclaimed by the power of the Spirit, takes up residence within those who know how to hear.” (Page 46)

“Fourth, paradigm thinking affirms the variety and diversity of the Christian faith and looks for the framework of faith that is common to the diversity.” (Page 16)

“There are three main interpretations of the work of Christ in Scripture and in history: His work is (1) a sacrifice which (2) won a victory over the powers of evil and (3) left us an example to follow. These views should all be held together.” (Page 43)

“Third, paradigm thinking also recognizes that the major models of the past continue into the present world.” (Page 16)

“The argument of this chapter is that the church is the primary presence of God’s activity in the world.” (Page 72)

The Agenda for Theology, which I attempted to set forth in 1979, is here being significantly extended by Robert Webber in 1999 in a way that is profoundly gratifying.

Thomas C. Oden, professor of theology, Drew University

With his customary lucidity and catholicity, but in a way that cuts deeper than his earlier writings, Robert Webber substantiates the vision of an anciently-rooted and forward-looking evangelicalism that marks all of his work. Ancient-Future Faith works as a narrative-oriented Christian primer and as a road map to the promise of catholic evangelicalism. For the theologically inclined, it also works as a Gadamerian exercise in the fusion of theological horizons, showing how the Christus Victor Christocentrism of ancient Christianity might reshape the faith that Christians live and claim in a postmodern context. Webber shows what it means to take seriously the character of Christian testimony as Christ-following church-formed story.

—Gary Dorrien, author, The Remaking of Evangelical Theology

Here is a faith for our time that finds in the ancient traditions the power to speak to the postmodern world. This book amounts to an introduction to Christianity from the theme of Christus Victor. It draws from Webber’s own experience of growth as a hearer of God’s Word and is backed up with an impressive set of endnotes, charts, and bibliography.

—Clark H. Pinnock, professor of theology, McMaster Divinity College

This book makes an important contribution…as a call for theological renewal within evangelical churches. Webber provides a wealth of suggestions to help churches appropriate the heritage of 'classical Christianity' for use in contemporary settings…Webber correctly anticipates the inevitable questions about authority, Scripture, and tradition that his proposals will raise for evangelicals…Timely, practical, and persuasive.

Publishers Weekly

With an obvious love for the writings of the church fathers, Webber weaves the ideals of classical Christianity with postmodern thought. The radical, countercultural faith of the early church is relevant to our faith.

Leadership Journal

  • Title: Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World
  • Author: Robert Webber
  • Publisher: Baker
  • Publication Date: 1999
  • Pages: 240
Robert E. Webber

Robert Webber (1933–2007) was known for his work on worship and the early church. The son of a Baptist minister, Webber was raised in the Belgian Congo where his parents were missionaries. He studied at Bob Jones University, Reformed Episcopal Seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary, and Concordia Seminary.

Webber taught theology at Wheaton College for 32 years and was the Myers Professor of Ministry at Northern Seminary. In 1998, as a part of the Convergence Movement, Webber founded The Robert E. Webber Institute of Worship Studies school which focused exclusively on worship education.

Later in his life, Webber took a special interest in Christian worship practice and wrote and edited more than 40 books on this topic including the Ancient-Future series and The Complete Library of Christian Worship.



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  1. Dr. George Bannister


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