So, how do postconservatives articulate the order of first experience with theology a second-order articulation of that gospel experience? According to Roger Olson (Reformed and Always Reforming) this can be found in the following theologians:
Big question: In light of yesterday, how do you see the postconservative emphasis on transformation? Do you think it is bringing out the biblical emphasis? The proper evangelical emphasis?
1. Alister McGrath: “Theology can address experience, without becoming reduced to the level of a mere reiteration of what we experience and observe.” “It is a travesty of the biblical idea of ‘truth’ to equate it with the Enlightenment notion of conceptual or propositional correspondence, or the derived view of evangelism as the proclamation of the propositional correctness of Christian doctrine” (79-89).
2. Stanley Grenz: “To be truly evangelical, right doctrine, as important as it is, is not enough. The truth of the Christian faith must become personally experienced truth” (81). “it is a religious experience couched in theological categories” (81). “Grenz,” Olson observes, “argues that conservative evangelicalism has reversed the order of things by placing the book (Scripture) over and above the Spirit” (83).
Olson digresses here into this rather provocative conclusion: “… apart from transforming experience… , authentic evangelicalism does not exist even where doctrinal connectness is present. [If you are aware of history, this is nothing other than the constant complaint of evangelicalism over against liturgical Christian faiths.] And that where right experience (orthopathy) and right spirituality (orthopraxy) are present in Jesus-centered living, authentic Christianity and even evangelical faith may be present even if doctrinal correctness is not yet fully present — provided that movement in the right direction [toward the center, the gospel of Christ] is clearly discernible” (84).
Henry and others “are simply too concerned to combat subjectivism in religion; that concern drives them to denigrate experience as secondary to doctrinal belief when it comes to identifying and defining authentic Christianity” (85).
3. Clark Pinnock: the essence is the Story of redemption. Theology articulates the story in an ongoing manner.
“Nevertheless, postcons need to hear the concerns of conservatives such as Millard Erickson, D.A. Carson, and David Wells, and not just shrug them off as unworthy of response” (88).
Postcons are “critical realists, not relativists.”
4. Kevin Vanhoozer: “The Christian faith is not a system of ideas or moral values but a five-act theo-drama in which God’s speech and action play the decisive parts” (91). And here Vanhoozer teaches the value of both information and transformation, but he does not even rank the two: “The words of the Bible are not simply carriers of information but means of transformation.” I don’t think Vanhoozer teaches transformation above information but information must lead to transformation. Yet, his emphasis is not with those who emphasize propositionalism all the time.
5. Henry Knight II: emphasizes narrative as matching who God is and who we are.