Stanley J. Grenz, 1950-2005
I was shocked to learn this week of Stanley Grenz’s death. He died very suddenly on Saturday, March 12 as a result of a massive aneurism. I cannot improve upon David Dockeryâ€™s review of Grenzâ€™s life and career as an â€˜evangelicalâ€™ theologian. So I recommend that you read Dockeryâ€™s very personal appraisal of Grenz: â€˜When Piety Is Not Enough.â€™
I was introduced to Grenzâ€™s theology in 1998 while working on my Masterâ€™s in Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. I read Grenzâ€™s Primer on Postmodernism, and my mind began to understand for the first time the philosophical and theological roots of postmodernity. Until his book, I had not properly understood the causes of the epistemological irrationality that seemed to permeate every aspect of the American culture in which I lived. His book made clearer the things I had only begun to be aware of from reading Francis Schaeffer years before. Grenzâ€™s lucid description of postmodernismâ€™s historical underpinnings made clear to me how the rationalism of modernity had vanished once for all as the ruling paradigm of knowledge. I remember reading the book and being so thankful for his clarity and insight into the postmodern ethos. I also remember very clearly how disappointed I was by the final chapter of the book. As an evangelical, I could not understand how he could be so sympathetic to the epistemology (or lack thereof) of postmodernity. In the years since that introduction to his thought, I have come to believe that his theological program is actually antithetical to evangelical orthodoxy. Grenz and his work will not soon be forgotten, but I do hope and pray that his theological paradigm will not carry the day.