The Character of Theology

An Introduction to Its Nature, Task, and Purpose

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"A clearly articulated approach to theology that is self-consciously and broadly Calvinist in orientation and seeks to bring that tradition into conversation with postmodern evangelical theological trajectories. The tone is evenhanded yet provocative, stimulating, and challenging."--Peter Enns, Westminster Theological Seminary

In this classroom text, John Franke builds on his previous work with Stanley Grenz and argues that the time has come to question whether metanarrative should guide theological reflection. Franke believes theologians should opt for a more modest approach, one that starts with the Spirit-led understanding of Scripture, is filtered through church tradition, and is ultimately applied and validated in differing cultural contexts.


"Franke has given us a rich gift: clear, lean, substantial, and enjoyable theological writing--sustained and building page after page--that links contemporary concerns with our shared heritage in the faith. The book will be a treasure for seminary students and for thoughtful Christians of all vocations."--Brian McLaren, pastor ( and author (

"Theology is a spiritual practice of the missional church: This is Franke's bold vision in The Character of Theology, introducing us to a Christian theology that is ecclesial, confessional, communal, and contemporary. This is a valuable book not just for students or those new to theology but also for those already engaged in the task, including pastors, who are looking for theological reorientation in our postmodern context."--James K. A. Smith, associate professor of philosophy, Calvin College; author of Introducing Radical Orthodoxy

"Franke has produced a clearly articulated approach to theology that is self-consciously and broadly Calvinist in orientation and seeks to bring that tradition into conversation with postmodern evangelical theological trajectories. Franke works toward an understanding of the theological task as a second-order, contextual discipline while also addressing the need for any theology to speak to universal concerns. The tone is evenhanded yet provocative, stimulating, and challenging. While not everyone will agree with Franke's approach or conclusions, evangelical engagement of postmodern theology is vital and unavoidable, and therefore this book requires a fair and patient reading."--Peter Enns, associate professor of Old Testament, Westminster Theological Seminary

"In The Character of Theology, Franke draws from theologians of every historical period to make a compelling case for theological reflection that arises from particular cultural situations. In this way, Franke opens the door for a fruitful postconservative, liberal dialogue to construct a theology for our postmodern world that is faithful to the classical tradition."--Robert Webber, Myers Professor of Ministry, Northern Seminary

"Franke demonstrates what postconservative evangelical theology is all about and clearly demonstrates its positive side. This is an introduction to theology not to be missed by anyone interested in leading-edge evangelical thought."--Roger E. Olson, professor of theology, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University

The Author

  1. John R. Franke

    John R. Franke

    John R. Franke (DPhil, University of Oxford) is theologian in residence at Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, affiliate professor of theology at Christian Theological Seminary, and general coordinator of the Gospel and Our Culture...

    Continue reading about John R. Franke


"Franke is to be commended for wrestling with difficult issues, especially in the light of contemporary issues. . . . Franke's book summarizes well a post-conservative approach to theology which needs to be taken seriously."--Stephen J. Wellum, Religious Studies Review

"In this work Franke offers evangelicalism a great service. . . . As an introduction to the nature, task, and purpose of theology, this book is helpful. Franke has made an important and valuable contribution to the growing body of literature addressing theological method from an evangelical perspective."--Joshua Bleeker with Glenn R. Kreider, Bibliotheca Sacra

"Franke has produced what will surely become a must read for those interested in the so-called Evangelical Left. . . . It makes a welcome contribution to the self-understanding of the [emergent] movement. . . . There is no question as to the persuasiveness of contemporary post-foundationalism. Yet Franke is to be congratulated for refusing to yield to any philosophical system. In this he remains quintessentially Evangelical. He also shows why Evangelicals should not absolutise either present dogmatic (or denominational) consensus, or past theological confession, but seek to be faithful to the work of the Spirit and the norm of Scripture."--Adonis Vidu, Heythrop Journal