Preaching after God
Phil Snider: Preaching After God (Eugene, Or: Cascade Books, 2012)
I arrived at seminary in 1974 after the wave of “Death of God” theology. There were, however, still plenty of deconstructionists around and I appreciated some of their careful theological observations about the traditional church. It added to the academic experience to have intellectual critics who were able to provide a bit of analysis of the structure of traditional theology. In the midst of this rich academic environment, we developed the beginnings of our own systematic theologies. I went on with my life and didn’t bother to read much deconstructionist theology after that time.
When I first encountered deconstructionist theology in the emergent church with authors like Peter Rollins, my initial reaction was that they were simply discovering postmodern theology some thirty to forty years after I explored that genre. Many contemporary postmodern theologians, like Rollins, come from more fundamentalist backgrounds and often from traditions that are not known for being on the cutting edge of academic theology.
Phil Snider, however, comes from a tradition closer to my experience. He is a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor who serves a church a bit closer to the liberal end of the theological spectrum. His book provided an opportunity to take a fresh look at postmodern theology and try on some of the ideas of the deconstructionists.
For the most part Snider doesn’t have a whole lot of new theology in his book. He spends most of his time exploring theologians who emerged just after the Second World War. Still it is an intriguing book and gives a perspective and some language tools to talk with all of the millennials who are just now discovering the theological concepts that I thought were brand new when I was their age.
The book is a good read for those who love theology and a good discussion starter for clergy and lay persons alike.