A book of some vintage, yet we are hearing more of the same from a number of quarters now! As a church planter and pastor the subject area is of vital interest.
Whilst I loved the chapter on relating to the world, I have one important question. If the church's debt to modernism is so bad, why buy into postmodernism in such a wholesale fashion? What is really unexamined in the book is a theology of relating to the world. Rather than capitulating to the latest trends, shouldn't we be a bit more discerning and affirm some things whilst rejecting others? The post-modernist project does not mind if the church tags along for a while, but is ultimately going in a different direction.
I had never heard of the term "post-evangelical" when a friend gave me this book, but reading it has helped me articulate a lot of the confusion I had been feeling regarding my faith. For some time I had been uncertain about various aspects of evangelicalism and the experience of church, although I found it difficult to express my concerns, partly because I wasn't sure what it was that just "didn't seem right", and partly out of fear that I would be branded "unbelieving" if I openly questioned aspects of my faith. Although the church I belong to is fairly moderate on the evangelical scale, there are quite a few people for whom faith is an all-or-nothing matter: if I didn't believe everything that was said, I might as well not believe anything. As I'm sure many others could testify, this is a discomforting and isolating experience, and one that made me feel things would probably be OK as long as I just kept my mouth shut and didn't publicly disagree with anyone.
The Post-Evangelical has helped me put my experience in context, looking at the history of the church, the rise of the evangelical movement, and the subsequent disillusion with this movement as we move from the "modern" to the "postmodern". Granted, these are amibiguous terms that tend to be overused and underexplained, but I believe Dave Tomlinson does as good a job as anyone at defining them. In the same way that postmodern is not a rejection but a continuation of the modern, post-evangelicalism is an attempt at rethinking and questioning evangelicalism without callously throwing it aside.
This book has been of invaluable help to me in understanding where I have come from and why I am finding it problematic. It has helped me give voice and expression to my confusion without rejecting my faith in God, like so many other people I know who decided that there was too much hypocrisy and contradiction in the church and, sadly, gave it all up. There is wonderful debate to be had by free-thinking, intelligent Christians after reading this book.