Manifold Witness written by Emergent theologian John Franke who describes truth as a reality that the variety of witnesses in the Christian tradition points towards. Far from demonstrating the weakness of the faith, Franke argues, the Manifold Witness of the Christian tradition points towards its truth. Such plurality, Franke believes, saves us from becoming a legalistic and rigidly dogmatic religion, rather than a faith that is expressed beautifully in many ways under the cross of Christ. Written for an audience who has not studied theology, Franke believes this message to be essential for believers to be able to respect, engage, and fellowship with one another.
If Christians are part of the one body of Christ, how do we account theologically for the multiple expressions of our common faith? If God is ultimate truth, why is it so difficult to agree on issues related to truth? Must we sacrifice a commitment to truth in favor of a pragmatic unity in the church? Or must we hold on to our perception of the truth at the expense of fracturing the church? For John Franke, truth versus unity is a false dichotomy. In this provocative yet thoughtful book, he argues that orthodox and biblical Christian faith is inherently pluralist, and that this diversity, far from being a problem that needs to be overcome, is in fact a blessing from God and part of the divine design and intention for the church. Suggesting that Christians should affirm the reality of ultimate truth, but cautioning humility regarding our grasp of it, Franke sets forth a relational theology in which the many expressions of revealed truthChrist, the Holy Spirit, and Scripture, along with a diverse churchtogether witness to the expansiveness of the one God.
John Franke asserts the plurality of truth, not as a capitulation to non- or anti-Christian thought, but rather as an expression of profoundly Christian thoughtand specifically, of emergent, missional, and Trinitarian Christian thought. In so doing, he gently implies that the dominant alternative viewthat white, modernist, Western Christian scholars and institutions have a monopoly on truthis actually a capitulation to modes of thought and power that have betrayed the life and gospel of Jesus Christ.
From the foreword by Brian McLaren
A refreshing study of plurality and diversity as something intrinsic to the nature of Christianity rather than as something extraneous to it. Lucid and lively, the book makes a valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion about the religions emerging profile in the twenty-first century. I am entirely in agreement with John Franke that faith is embodied, that theology is rooted in practice and experience, and that the gospel shapes and is shaped by culture. Manifold Witness tracks the manifold trails of Christianitys impact on persons and societies. It should find welcome response in theological study and teaching.
Lamin Sanneh, Professor of World Christianity and Director, World Christianity Initiative, at Yale Divinity School, Professor of History at Yale University, and author of Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture and Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity
Why is there a Trinity of persons and a quartet of Gospels? Do not relation and difference, context and plurality lie at the very heart of the Christian tradition? Is not the infinite resourcefulness of love enhanced by change and alterity? These are the kinds of questions that John Franke addresses in a bold, sweeping, and lucid presentation of the ongoing renewal of the life of the church. Manifold Witness is the fruit of a tenacious faith in the Christian tradition and a no-less-tenacious faith in the power of truth.
John D. Caputo, Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Humanities at Syracuse University and author of What Would Jesus Deconstruct? The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church
John Frankes Manifold Witness is the most Reformed book I have ever read. Why? It is the first I have read that not only believes the human mind has been impacted by the Fall but also that carries this through into how the Bible makes truth claims. We need manifold witnesses because, as humans, no one author can grasp the whole Story. If it takes a village to nurture a child, it takes the manifold voices of the Bible and the church to nurture the church. Boldness, braced up by humility, marks every page of this book.
Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University and author of A Community Called Atonement
With clarity, grace, and practical insight, John Franke argues convincingly that the plurality of witnesses in Christian tradition is not a hindrance but a gift that rescues us from both the rigid dogmatism that constricts Gods truth and the anything goes pluralism that trivializes it.
Danielle Shroyer, pastor of Journey Church in Dallas, Texas, and author of The Boundary Breaking God: An Unfolding Story of Hope and Promise
An honest, passionate, engaging, and spirit-raising book! Frankes humble, bold articulation of the crux of the emerging church conversation, centered on the Bible and tradition, is confessional yet inclusive. He genuinely celebrates the gifts of the plurality of the church in diverse witnesses and the unity of the reconciling love of God in Jesus mission.
Andrew Sung Park, Professor of Theology at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio
I cannot think of a more important nor relevant topic than the nature of Truth, with a capital T. It shapes and influences how we think, believe, and act. In a world of competing truth claims it is easy and common to end the conversation by retreating to our own familiar tradition. John Franke wants us to do more, to think deeply and faithfully about a wonderfully provocative notion, the plurality of truth. This book will be an invaluable resource for preachers and teachers.
John Buchanan, Pastor, Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, and Editor/Publisher of The Christian Century
Manifold Witness will truly help Christians committed to the apostolic faith understand that a plurality of views and interpretations, rather than contradicting that faith, stands at its very core!
Justo L. González, author of A Concise History of Christian Doctrine and A History of Christian Thought
In recent years there has been much discussion concerning the nature of the church and the nature of the Gospel we as Christians believe. In this book John Franke steers the direction of the conversation directly towards our philosophical understanding of the nature of truth and how we understand it theologically in the Christian tradition. The Result? A significant reformulation of our understanding of truth from a static singularity at the human level, to rearticulated dynamic reality.
Yet, this applies only to the human side. Truth remains, for Franke, from god's perspective as transcendent, exhaustive, and absolute. Therefore, the problem, he argues is not with truth itself but with human ability to grasp and understand truth fully. Challenging, accessible, lucid and immensely practical, I highly encourage both individuals and groups to engage Franke's work in Manifold Witness.
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