To my Friends Across The Country:
I have wanted to write you about a series of books that I would like to recommend to you.
David F. Wells (PhD. University of Manchester, Distinguished Senior Research Professor @ Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) received a Pew grant, “Exploring the nature of Christian faith in the contemporary modernized world.” From his study he has produced a series of very good, relevant, Christ-honoring books that I feel every spiritually minded Christian should read.
Here are the titles of books written by David Wells that I hope will peak your attention:
- No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? (1993)
- God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams (1994)
- Losing Our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision (1998)
- Above All Earthly Powers: Christ in a Postmodern World (2004)
- The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World (2008)
- God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World (2014)
I have been deeply moved and blessed by David Wells’ ministry. He has appeared on the White Horse Inn and his books are sound, relevant, and filled with Biblical Truth.
From his latest book I quote from his concern regarding worship in many, if not most of the evangelical churches in America:
“If we look at the way in which many evangelical churches have actually been worshiping since the 1970s, it is rather different from what I have been describing. It has become far more culturally defined than Biblically. It has often catered to generational niches. It has been about marketing a ‘product’ in a way that attracts new customers. The new customers, though, tend to belong to one of the generational tribes. Christian faith is pitched to them often without doctrinal truth. Pastors who have been in this business have mistakenly thought that doctrinal truth is ‘off-putting’ to believers and unbelievers alike. And the outreach that has been done often has far more in common with the entertainment world than with the truths at the core of Christian faith. Too often it has been about the worshipers, and giving them a pleasant experience as they express themselves, rather than about the God whom they have come to worship.
…Now, along the edges of the evangelical world, this disposition is producing a lot of bleeding. It has propelled an exodus out of evangelical churches. Some have moved out into Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglo-Catholicism, and Catholicism. Others have simply moved home. Born-againers, in significant numbers, are dropping out of church. This is not true everywhere, or of everyone, or of every church. But many who were once part of the born-again world are now turning away from evangelical churches. In one study done in 2013, it was found that in the recent past, 70 percent of the young people who had been raised in evangelical youth groups had dropped out of church attendance once they became independent adults. Why?”
(God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients our World; pp. 198-199)
Now, having been a believing Christian for over three-quarters of a century and a minister of the Gospel for over a half-century, this is what I have observed:
In the evangelical churches in America in the 1920s to the 1930s, liberalism and higher criticism invaded the major evangelical denominations, churches, colleges, and seminaries. The cancer of European liberalism, skepticism, and unbelief became embedded in evangelical circles. Out of this came those often condemned as “fundamentalists.” They started new denominations, colleges, seminaries and churches. They were called “fundamentalists” because they held to the major biblical truths of the Protestant Church. I am a fundamentalist! No apologies. No hedging my theological beliefs in the faith of our Protestant for-bearers. One of my ancestors, Ralph Blaisdell, was a Puritan who left England in 1635, to be a “planter” in the New World. He left the skeptical liberalism of the Church of England so he could worship God according to the dictates of his Puritan heart.
Since the 1970s, a profound change has taken place in the evangelical world. To put it simply, the “emergent movement” has done to the professing evangelical church in America what liberalism did to the church in the 1920s and 1930s. Today the church has forsaken sound theology, and expositional preaching, and has turned its emphasis into what Christian Smith in his book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual lives of American Teenagers called “moralistic, therapeutic, deism.” Today the church has forsaken any claim to be “fundamental” and is producing “another gospel” that offends no one, leaves theology in the back room, welcomes all into the “gathering,” and lets them leave with a gospel not demanding repentance of sin and absolute trust in the Christ of the Cross and the Empty Tomb.
The invisible Church of Jesus Christ in America is in desperate need of a spiritual revival in the hearts of her leaders. The nation crumbles in moral and spiritual darkness while the Church stumbles in dim light.
I urge you to pray for a genuine Holy Spirit rejuvenation in Christ’s body. We “come out from among them and be separate” (II Corinthians 6:17-18) or we perish with a nation that has turned itself from the God of the Bible to the god of secular humanism.