Reviewing Metavista: Bible, Church, and Mission in an Age of Imagination

Metavista: Bible, Church and Mission in an Age of Imagination by Colin Greene & Martin Roinson

Who Will Like This Book (or might not) – Those that want to see church, culture and history from further out.  Whether you feel you are educated enough in it or not, if you have a high appreciation for history, you will really appreciate it.  If you are not into the emerging church authors (like McLaren, Jones, Pagitt, Keel, etc.), I think it would be beneficial to hear these words from those that do not identify with the movement.  If you are a friend of emergent, I think this book is very beneficial as well.  Having been in the emerging discussion, this is among the things that are humbly encouraged, read a lot of other stuff  (emergent plug – none of us feel we’ve cornered the market on pomo thought).

Who Won’t (or might not) – Those who have less appreciation for context and require Biblical proof texting; those who don’t understand where the history of philosophy fits in; those who think that the timeline of Christian literature went from the canonization of the New Testament, a few church fathers, Calvin, then John Piper while ignoring the millions of other voices throughout the past several thousand years  (I write that last one to a specific caricature, don’t mean to offend).

What I Found Difficult – I really enjoyed reading this book and I didn’t see skimming as an option.  Because of this, there’s a lot to read here.  Perhaps it was my attention span but I really wanted to remember what I read (what a new idea), so it was just one of these books where you really needed to take the necessary time and read.  Thus, you may not like it, if you’re not able to commit the time to it. 


What I Loved –  I was a fan from the introduction.  Seriously, it’s one of those books that if you love the introduction, you’ll probably like the book.  I didn’t feel let down as I continued reading the book though it was grappling with extremely difficult topics.


While reading through it, I appreciated all the quotes from those like Augustine, Kierkegaard, Brueggemann, Newbigin, Caputo, (even Bono is quoted), and many others.  I felt it connected me to the thoughts and ideas of so many others.  For those like myself who have a scattered interest in a lot of things, I appreciate books that contain histories and summations from the greats that have come before.


There are so many books to read, so many to recommend, I’d like to sell you on this one. 

Here’s a preview and table of contents:

What is metavista? – “… a relatively unclaimed space or clearing” (xxix).



1. Modernity: Legacies that Remain

2. Postmodernity: A Matrix of Meanings – This chapter begins, “In his book Postmodernism for Beginners” Richard Appignanesi suggests that the postmodern is something unavoidable.  His candid assessment is that the modern is always historically at war with what comes immediately before it” (25).

(Why I like it –  As been told to me countless times, I too keep trying to convince people that the idea of postmodernism is more than a philosophy but an age, specifically a response to modernism.)

3. Metavista: Discerning the Rules of Engagement – deals with many issues from voice, representation to power.

4. Metavista: Naming the Post-modern Condition – consumerism, post-colonialism, secularization, individualism (to name a few).


Part 2

5. Cultural Engagement and the Refiguring of the Scriptures – narratives and indwelling

6. Constructing a Biblical Theology for Cultural Engagement – demonstrates that postmoderns can be Christians ;-)

7. Metavista:  The Political Capital of the Bible in Cultural Engagement – umm, well, Greene likes Hauerwas.   Though this book is written from a European perspective, I think this chapter is helpful for American readers (especially Christian conservatives) interested in politics and culture.


Part 3

8. Deconstructing the Secular Imagination – the strength and weakness of secularization and its effect on religion

9. Imagining the Missional Community – Includes some big topics of the Modern West’s Christendom such as evangelical renewal, programmatic responses, emergent church, and offers humble conclusions.

10. Reimagining a Counter-cultural Life – one of my favorite chapters in the book.

11. Towards a Hermeneutic of Imagination – public theology, missional imagination and the pride of Biblical Seminary, John Franke is quoted here.

12. Conclusion and Beyond – calls for a new manifesto

Monday Morning Brief

Highlight of the Week:  Christmas tree shopping with the family.  Finishing this semester of school.  CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett starting with a healthy Wang, healthy Hughes, Joba, Rivera and without Scott Brochius, Yankee pitching is going to look alright.

Disappointment of the Week:  This picture.  If I had more time, I’d write a letter of complaint.  The Jonas Brothers should never be that close to Bob Dylan. If this was display done by a blind man or a poorly programmed droid then I would understand.  But this looks to be the work of someone who really does not know music. This is a serious argument to only buy music online (not to mention the high prices at this particular retailer) or at an independent music store. May our eyes be spared from a time of seeing such an atrocity ever again. 

Looking Forward to: tomorrow night’s Templeton Foundation’s Book Forum Beyond Revenge.

ReadingMetavista:  Bible, Church and Mission in an Age of Imagination

Listening to: Podcasts and Sufjan Christmas.

Need to:  Figure out mission trip stuff, winter retreat stuff, some Christmas shopping, …