UPDATE: I've just read Macht and Joel Hunter's comments on Wilson's review, which both state that Wilson has dodged, missed or otherwise entirely avoided Smith's point - that's what I get for talking about a book I've never actually read. In any case the one thing that Wilson does bring up, which I'd like to hear someone address, is the question I raised in this post: How are people to ajudicate between rival interpretations without falling prey to stock postmodern criticisms? If everyone ultimately can only evaluate other interpretations from the standpoint of their own, what's the way out of that particular cul-de-sac? C'mon, Joel, I said HELP!!!
Doug Wilson just posted a tantalizing review of J.K.A. Smith's book, Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? I've been wanting to pick this one up since it was commended to me by Sir Bryan Lee, my good friend and Captain of the Intelligently Postmodern Brigade. I have to say, at first glance, I have a feeling I'd probably be more sympathetic to Wilson's take.
I'll be posting a bit more about Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue shortly, but Wilson's comments give voice to nagging concerns even as I've enjoyed the book thus far - namely the fear that once MacIntyre has destroyed the blighted secularism which has given birth to the current moral crises of our day, his sociological analysis will be powerless to commend a truly Christian alternative. The questions raised by Wilson are all the same ones I've come up against in reading Lindbeck and Hauerwas - they are so robustly and self-confidently Christian it's positively exhilerating - until the issue of engagement comes to the fore. For all the pitfalls of "cognitive-propositional" models of doctrine, and all the benefits of a narrative approach, how does a particular person's narrative climb out of the spongy morass of pluralism to assert itself without falling prey to the same criticisms as Enlightenment positivism? How can the Gospel be proclaimed without the Sitz im Leben of one hors'dourve being offered from a tray of several equally tasty choices?
I think Reformed resources provide the the only theologically viable raw material for a Biblically sustainable alternative - Plantinga's modest foundationalism, Vanhoozer's chastised version of intentionality, and Wright's critical realism are a good start (yeah, I said N.T. Wright: there's a lot more Reformed people should appreciate about the guy, Piper's latest sermon notwithstanding). The more I listen to someone like Tim Keller, the more I'm convinced of Reformed theology's potential value in navigating the postmodern world.
However necessary and beautiful the call to community formation, these authors inevitably blunt the imperial force of the Gospel, which is wrapped up in Jesus' lordship - or do they? Joel Hunter, the resident postmodern poster-boy at the Boar's Head Tavern, if you're reading this - help!