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Ancient-Future Faith

Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World

series: Ancient-Future

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"Webber re-grounds the church in its history, reminds us of the richness of tradition, and sends us forth with hope toward the future. It is a worthy read."--Anna Madsend, Trinity Seminary Review

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 new 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. Students, professors, pastors, and laypeople concerned with the church's effective response to a postmodern world will benefit from this paradigmatic volume. Informative tables and extensive bibliographies enhance the book's educational value.




"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

"Evangelicalism is a vital spiritual movement but has lots of room to grow in the area of theological hermeneutics. Welcome therefore is this proposal from a senior and respected leader which draws half a dozen lessons from the early church to help evangelicals move forward into the future. 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 end-notes, charts, and bibliography."--Clark H. Pinnock, professor of theology emeritus, McMaster Divinity College

"'You can only think about the future of the faith after you have gone back to the classical tradition.' So writes Bob Webber in this book, and he has made his lifework the forward-looking appropriation of that unboundingly rich - and, most important, 'true' - generous orthodoxy. Many of us are already incalculably in his debt. Now, more than ever, with the culture wars of a dying modernity cutting deeper and more darkly into desperation and anger, all evangelicalism needs to hear him. Take up, read, pray and consider: in this direction lies the most hopeful future of our faith."--Rodney Clapp, senior editor, Prism

The Author

  1. Robert E. Webber

    Robert E. Webber

    Robert E. Webber (1933-2007) was, at the time of his death, Myers Professor of Ministry at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois, and served as the president of the Institute for Worship Studies in Orange Park, Florida. His many books include...

    Continue reading about Robert E. Webber


"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

"Looking toward the future, Webber attempts to reconcile evangelicalism with postmodern philosophy. Returning to the traditions of the very early church, the author attempts to show how such ancient paradigms as the 'Christus Victor' concept as well as nonverbal communications through symbolism could revitalize the evangelical message in an age moving away from linear, verbal thinking. [A] well written and readable scholarly work with some interesting insights into this important segment of religion in America. Recommended for academic and public libraries."--Library Journal

"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

"This is one of the best, most important books that I have read over the past year."--Equip for Ministry

"Webber has written a highly readable and exciting book that serves as a primer for living out Christian faith in a Postmodern age. . . . This book is an excellent guide on how the church should be the church in the 21st century."--Christian Standard

"Ancient-Future Faith is a thought-provoking reminder that the past may have more to say to us than we have hitherto believed."--Alan Cochrum, Fort-Worth Star-Telegram

"This book is a must for those in the ministry and those, who anticipate a lifetime of ministry."--Ronald B. Mayers, Reformed Review

"Webber speaks a true word. Alongside authors who warn of the Church falling prey to similar temptations, Webber re-grounds the church in its history, reminds us of the richness of tradition, and sends us forth with hope toward the future. It is a worthy read."--Anna Madsend, Trinity Seminary Review

"Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement scholars need to read and interact with this book."--Chris Simpson, Stone-Campbell Journal

"Worthy of serious attention."--Graham McFarlane, Expository Times

"Ancient-Future Faith is well organized and easy to read. The book is theological, historical, practical, and contemplative. In fact, Ancient-Future Faith is not only well worth reading, it is a clarion call to the church to return to her roots: a faith that is primarily a mystery. This mystery is the person of Christ and His continued action in the worship and mission of His body, the church."--John Paul Salay, Concordia Theological Quarterly

"Webber provides us with a concise picture of how classical Christianity and postmodern thought converge. Anyone wanting to see how the past and future draw on each other today will find this book most helpful. People working in theology, worship, and evangelism will find the book even more useful."--Net Results

"Robert Webber is no stranger to ecumenical dialogue or to the question of evangelicalism's interaction with culture. . . . (his) call for a greater classical awareness among evangelicals in a postmodern context needs to be taken seriously."--Regeneration Quarterly

"Readers will find the book deeply thought-provoking and informative. Webber's insights on evangelism and discipleship, spirituality and worship are very helpful. He writes as an evangelical insider, identifying weakness in evangelical thinking and practice, and offering alternatives that are true to the larger tradition. In moving toward a more broadly shaped orthodoxy, Webber argues that the core of evangelical commitment can still be preserved. The book models a generous embrace and appropriation of the riches of various traditions, particularly those drawn from the early church."--Christine D. Pohl, Asbury Theological Journal

"Well worth serious consideration by readers interested in the origin, identity, ills, and future of evangelicalism and evangelical theology."--Roger E. Olson, Perspectives in Religious Studies