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Christians believe that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ uniquely revealed the one true God to humanity. In bearing witness to this revelation through their ministry and life together, they profess a common faith. Yet if Christians are indeed part of one body of Christ, how do we account theologically for the multiple expressions of that 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 practical unity in the church? Or must we hold on to our perception of the truth of God even at the expense of fracturing and dividing the church? John Franke says that the dilemma of truth versus unity is a false dichotomy. He argues instead that orthodox and biblical Christian faith is inherently and irreducibly 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. Faith in the Lordship of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit to guide the church, and in the God witnessed to by scripture allows Christians to affirm ultimate truth. But the recognition that no one fully knows God, or knows the truth as God knows it, means that they must be humble regarding their own grasp of truth. Thus, the multiplicity of Christian expressions represents the attempt of finite creatures to represent an infinite God. The plurality of the expressions of truth in the Christian church witnesses to the expansiveness of the truth of God.
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, Frankesets forth a relational theologyin which the many expressions of revealed truth Christ, the Holy Spirit, and Scripture, along with a diverse church together 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 thought and specifically, of emergent, missional, and Trinitarian Christian thought. In so doing, he gently implies that the dominant alternative view that white, modernist, Western Christian scholars and institutions have a monopoly on truth is 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 religion s 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 Christianity s 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 Franke s 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 God s 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 Franke s 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. Gonzalez, author of A Concise History of Christian Doctrine and A History of Christian Thought "
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