According to a recovering addict friend of mine, everyone has an addiction. He may well be right. Tim Keller suggests everyone suffers the possession of a “functional idol.” That is, everyone gives something a place in their life that would change everything were it removed. So religious and non-religious all share a “functional idol” that takes the place of the One God who should inhabit that space in our lives.
A number of years ago I met John Franke. In fact, I met John before I met John. My first introduction was in a co-authored book with the late Stan Grenz. The book? Beyond Foundationalism. For some the book signaled a fateful turn in Grenz’ theology and a warning to watch Franke carefully in the future. I discovered through reading this book that many share as a “functional idol” a particular way of holding truth. Some contend that John and Stan deny truth. These pejorative mis-characterizations do little for the common good and only serve to obscure potential healthy critique.
For example, in John’s newest book, Manifold Witness, we find,
I still remember the first time I was asked the question: “Do you believe in truth?”
The person posting the question looked at me with an expression of grave concern etched in his face. The tone of his voice made it clear that his statement was as much an accusation as it was a question: “You don’t believe in truth, do you?”
I was genuinely surprised and startled. I had never had such a question like this posed to me before. I had always been an advocate of truth, not one of its detractors. I thought to myself: Of course I believe in truth. I believe in God. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. (Manifold Witness,p.1)
I met John not long after reading he and Grenz’ book. Since that time we have shared a number of conversations. I am an adjunct at the Seminary where he is the The Lester and Kay Clemens Professor of Missional Theology. John gave me an interview for a writing project on the emerging church. I shared a stroll on Biblical’s campus the day he was “installed” at Biblical in October of 2008. We have shared meals and conversations. I appreciate John’s friendship. I am glad he did not mind me honoring him as a (Not) Sponsor here at The Edge of the Inside.
PS – I am working on a review of John’s new book. We will see how it compares to that offered by Russ Moore. In the mean time, my friend David Phillips offered his thoughts here.