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Has something indeed happened to evangelical theology and to evangelical churches? According to David Wells, the evidence indicates that evangelical pastors have abandoned their traditional role as ministers of the Word to become therapists and "managers of the small enterprises we call churches." Along with their parishioners, they have abandoned genuine Christianity and Has something indeed happened to evangelical theology and to evangelical churches? According to David Wells, the evidence indicates that evangelical pastors have abandoned their traditional role as ministers of the Word to become therapists and "managers of the small enterprises we call churches." Along with their parishioners, they have abandoned genuine Christianity and biblical truth in favor of the sort of inner-directed experiential religion that now pervades Western society. Specifically, Wells explores the wholesale disappearance of theology in the church, the academy, and modern culture. Western culture as a whole, argues Wells, has been transformed by modernity, and the church has simply gone with the flow. The new environment in which we live, with its huge cities, triumphant capitalism, invasive technology, and pervasive amusements, has vanquished and homogenized the entire world. While the modern world has produced astonishing abundance, it has also taken a toll on the human spirit, emptying it of enduring meaning and morality. Seeking respite from the acids of modernity, people today have increasingly turned to religions and therapies centered on the self. And, whether consciously or not, evangelicals have taken the same path, refashioning their faith into a religion of the self. They have been coopted by modernity, have sold their soul for a mess of pottage. According to Wells, they have lost the truth that God stands outside all human experience, that he still summons sinners to repentance and belief regardless of their self-image, and that he calls his church to stand fast in his truth against the blandishments of a godless world. The first of three volumes meant to encourage renewal in evangelical theology (the other two to be written by Cornelius Plantinga Jr. and Mark Noll), No Place for Truth is a contemporary jeremiad, a clarion call to all evangelicals to note well what a pass they have come to in capitulating to modernity, what a risk they are running by abandoning historic orthodoxy. It is provocative reading for scholars, ministers, seminary students, and all theologically concerned individuals.


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Has something indeed happened to evangelical theology and to evangelical churches? According to David Wells, the evidence indicates that evangelical pastors have abandoned their traditional role as ministers of the Word to become therapists and "managers of the small enterprises we call churches." Along with their parishioners, they have abandoned genuine Christianity and Has something indeed happened to evangelical theology and to evangelical churches? According to David Wells, the evidence indicates that evangelical pastors have abandoned their traditional role as ministers of the Word to become therapists and "managers of the small enterprises we call churches." Along with their parishioners, they have abandoned genuine Christianity and biblical truth in favor of the sort of inner-directed experiential religion that now pervades Western society. Specifically, Wells explores the wholesale disappearance of theology in the church, the academy, and modern culture. Western culture as a whole, argues Wells, has been transformed by modernity, and the church has simply gone with the flow. The new environment in which we live, with its huge cities, triumphant capitalism, invasive technology, and pervasive amusements, has vanquished and homogenized the entire world. While the modern world has produced astonishing abundance, it has also taken a toll on the human spirit, emptying it of enduring meaning and morality. Seeking respite from the acids of modernity, people today have increasingly turned to religions and therapies centered on the self. And, whether consciously or not, evangelicals have taken the same path, refashioning their faith into a religion of the self. They have been coopted by modernity, have sold their soul for a mess of pottage. According to Wells, they have lost the truth that God stands outside all human experience, that he still summons sinners to repentance and belief regardless of their self-image, and that he calls his church to stand fast in his truth against the blandishments of a godless world. The first of three volumes meant to encourage renewal in evangelical theology (the other two to be written by Cornelius Plantinga Jr. and Mark Noll), No Place for Truth is a contemporary jeremiad, a clarion call to all evangelicals to note well what a pass they have come to in capitulating to modernity, what a risk they are running by abandoning historic orthodoxy. It is provocative reading for scholars, ministers, seminary students, and all theologically concerned individuals.

23 review for No Place for Truth: or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    4.5. Dense, thoughtful, inspiring. Wells is a modern-day prophet in the best sense, refusing to mince words while thundering unpopular truth. Published in 1993—nearly three decades ago—the book laments the vacuousness of modern evangelical thought, the pragmatism of its practice, and the urgent need for theological reformation. On several occasions I was moved to thank God for the resurgence of Reformed theology in the years since Wells wrote. The “young, Restless, Reformed” (YRR) movement, for 4.5. Dense, thoughtful, inspiring. Wells is a modern-day prophet in the best sense, refusing to mince words while thundering unpopular truth. Published in 1993—nearly three decades ago—the book laments the vacuousness of modern evangelical thought, the pragmatism of its practice, and the urgent need for theological reformation. On several occasions I was moved to thank God for the resurgence of Reformed theology in the years since Wells wrote. The “young, Restless, Reformed” (YRR) movement, for all its foibles and fallen stars, is a direct answer to Wells’s prayer. Reading the book made me freshly grateful for God-centered pastors and theologians like Sproul, Piper, Carson, and Dever; for doctrinally serious seminaries; for Reformed hip-hop; for publishers like Crossway; for conferences like T4G; and for organizations like TGC. So much good has been accomplished and so much ground gained; reading “No Place For Truth” with the benefit of hindsight makes that plain. We should be of good cheer. Let’s not take these gains for granted.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

    Brilliant analysis of modern culture and the church’s unfaithful response. A bracing and prescient book that is more relevant now over 25 years after its publication.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    In a separate lecture elsewhere, Wells reported to his wife that when this book is published, he will receive a lot of criticism from the EVANGELICAL flank of the church. As some of the reviews below have shown, he was excatcly right. Wells's thesis can be summarized thus: "Since the church has adopted all the vestiges of modernity, it has become irrelevant to God, and as such can no longer deliver the demands of God to a dying people. This is so because the church views reality in light of a mod In a separate lecture elsewhere, Wells reported to his wife that when this book is published, he will receive a lot of criticism from the EVANGELICAL flank of the church. As some of the reviews below have shown, he was excatcly right. Wells's thesis can be summarized thus: "Since the church has adopted all the vestiges of modernity, it has become irrelevant to God, and as such can no longer deliver the demands of God to a dying people. This is so because the church views reality in light of a modernistic (and postmodernistic, although that thought is not developed thoroughly) framework. It cannot make itself better because any attempt at SELF-reform will only re-inforce modernity's grip on the church. The Church's only hope is for "prophets" to call the church back to its focal point: the Holiness of God, without which life is meaningless." However, the book is not perfect for several reasons. 1)At times it was too technical; had it become more personal for pastors and theologians it would have fared better. 2)It did not deal adequately enough with postmodernism, although with all fairness to Wells, pomo did not have the cultural influence in the early 90's as it does now. Another problem with the book is Wells' heavy dependence on Liberal gnostic Peter Berger. If sociology of religion is essentially a new paganism (ala John Milbank), then should we really be building off that construct? Here is another criticism of the book: Wells critiques Evangelicals for abandoning the Bible in favor of pragmatism. The irony here is that Wells waits until literally the last chapter of the book to offer anything remotely resembling exegesis, and even then it comes off kind of "tagged on to the end." In fact, Wells' book is almost exclusively sociological yet at the same time he is accusing evangelicals of not being biblical enough.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    This is a major work by David Wells. Heavily footnoted, it takes a broad look at the history of not only evangelicalism but American culture in general. He deals in considerable depth with sociology, philosophy, history, and theology. The picture he paints of evangelicalism is certainly quite stark, although I think his context at Gordon-Conwell might have contributed to that, in the sense that some smaller schools that are more counter-cultural and theologically focused would not necessarily ma This is a major work by David Wells. Heavily footnoted, it takes a broad look at the history of not only evangelicalism but American culture in general. He deals in considerable depth with sociology, philosophy, history, and theology. The picture he paints of evangelicalism is certainly quite stark, although I think his context at Gordon-Conwell might have contributed to that, in the sense that some smaller schools that are more counter-cultural and theologically focused would not necessarily match the portrait. Nevertheless, I think he is on the whole entirely correct, and I found myself writing in the margin that, 20 years later, it is far worse than when he wrote this in 1993. I have heard quite a bit about Wells' books from people I respect so I decided to work through it as part of my self-education process. I am very glad I did. I feel that it deepened my understanding of the modern psyche, and made clear the connecting lines between that psyche and the theological state of the modern church. Wells has been criticized for being overly negative, and I can see their point. He lays it on pretty thick in some parts. I got the sense that his personality is not exactly the very emotional and creative type. And so I could see the book being a turn-off for some people in that sense. I'm not sure what he would respond to that, but frankly there was so much good information in this book, so carefully condensed and synthesized, that it is easy to overlook the cranky curmudgeon tone he sometimes takes. I hope to go on and read some of his other major works that followed this one, hoping that I will glean as much from them as I did from this.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jon Pentecost

    Wow. If you have any kind of aspiration to be involved in full-time ministry at all, read this book. If you have wondered, or felt dissatisfied with the status-quo of the modern evangelical world, read this book. If you are tempted to feel discouraged from standing firm in the truth of Scripture because of pressures around you, read this book. I read this in 2018, the 25th anniversary of the book's publication; but the years that have passed have not decreased its relevancy--as a cultural analysi Wow. If you have any kind of aspiration to be involved in full-time ministry at all, read this book. If you have wondered, or felt dissatisfied with the status-quo of the modern evangelical world, read this book. If you are tempted to feel discouraged from standing firm in the truth of Scripture because of pressures around you, read this book. I read this in 2018, the 25th anniversary of the book's publication; but the years that have passed have not decreased its relevancy--as a cultural analysis, it feels prescient. Reading No Place for Truth was akin to a fish understanding what it means to be wet. It helped me see more clearly the atmosphere of modern evangelical Protestantism. It helped strengthen me in my convictions that it *shouldn't* be strange for a pastor to be deeply invested in theology. It helped clarify the ways that cultural values have shifted values within the church to value practical moral lists and self-improvement, and away from theology driven mainly by a love and awe of God. Wells' analysis of the effects of modernization is helpful and clear-eyed. While I appreciate the idea of a micro- and macro-analysis of modernization, I'm not sure that those two chapters were both worth the time it took to labor through them--though collectively they are crucial for the critiques making up the latter half of the book. Highly useful.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Dzikowski

    This book is amazing! It’s easily the best Christian book I’ve read in the past few years and maybe ever. Wells thoroughly explains how the precepts of modernity have replaced theology in the evangelical church with self-help psychology, and proposes that the solution lies not in revival, but in reformation. Theology matters, and unless we recover the truth of God’s holiness, the church will continue along its path of increasing shallowness until it only reflects the emptiness of the world aroun This book is amazing! It’s easily the best Christian book I’ve read in the past few years and maybe ever. Wells thoroughly explains how the precepts of modernity have replaced theology in the evangelical church with self-help psychology, and proposes that the solution lies not in revival, but in reformation. Theology matters, and unless we recover the truth of God’s holiness, the church will continue along its path of increasing shallowness until it only reflects the emptiness of the world around it. Morality matters, too, because God is perfect. Otherwise, the concepts of sin and grace mean absolutely nothing. I’m going to be praying for a recovery of truth in my personal theology, and for the ability to express it clearly to those around me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jon Harris

    One of the best books I’ve ever read

  8. 5 out of 5

    William

    Wells offers a very good overview of the decline of Evangelicalism as it has gradually absorbed the thought and ethos of modernism. We often assume that our own era is normative or that things have always been, more or less, as they are, and yet as one reads the history of the Church major shifts over time become apparent. One often wonders how these enormous shifts happen, seemingly with no one noticing. Wells first looks at the way in which the old Liberalism began, in the 19th Century, delibe Wells offers a very good overview of the decline of Evangelicalism as it has gradually absorbed the thought and ethos of modernism. We often assume that our own era is normative or that things have always been, more or less, as they are, and yet as one reads the history of the Church major shifts over time become apparent. One often wonders how these enormous shifts happen, seemingly with no one noticing. Wells first looks at the way in which the old Liberalism began, in the 19th Century, deliberately to adapt itself to modernism. He then goes on to show how, despite intending to maintain orthodoxy, Evangelicalism—particularly the non-confessional variety embodied in the Baptist, Methodist, and Pentecostal traditions—has uncritically and unknowingly absorbed the self-centred, anti-intellecual, and subjective foci of modernism, giving up the pursuit of theology, downplaying the place of objective truth in favour of personal experience, and has transformed its clergy into career-climbing managers, salesmen, and pollsters rather than brokers of biblical truth. The problems Wells describes are now ubiquitous in the Evangelical word, but being aware of this shift and what brought it about serves to put on on guard and to do what one can to at least compensate for it in one's own church and ministry.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Justin Daniel

    Last year, I read a book by David Wells called, “The Courage to be Protestant.” That book was a culmination of years of research to define why the Evangelical movement has been weakening for the great part of a century, exacerbated by the moral revolutions in the 1960’s onward. “No Place for Truth” is the first book in the series, and is the first of the four books I will try to read this year. Wells begins with a type of analogy of Wenham, Massachusetts and demonstrates how this little town turn Last year, I read a book by David Wells called, “The Courage to be Protestant.” That book was a culmination of years of research to define why the Evangelical movement has been weakening for the great part of a century, exacerbated by the moral revolutions in the 1960’s onward. “No Place for Truth” is the first book in the series, and is the first of the four books I will try to read this year. Wells begins with a type of analogy of Wenham, Massachusetts and demonstrates how this little town turned from a small community unaffected by modernity to describe the process in which the Evangelical movement has shifted focus. For example, communities of this nature in the late 18th century were bound together by tradition, the church, and public accountability. Next, Wells focuses on how the Western World took this shift from the old world to the new. He cites examples that are reminiscent of a book I read last year by Nancy Pearcey, “Total Truth“: He talks about how in these small communities, religion, and more specifically Christian faith, was an intrinsic part of their world. It was not taboo to talk openly about your faith and it most cases, it was encouraged. With the moral revolution however, the movement into modernity caused things like personal religious beliefs to be just that: personal. Notice how today our attitude towards religion is “you can practice your religion, but don’t you dare force it upon me.” This includes the morality that comes from Christianity as well. This privatization of religion in general and Christianity specifically would cast upon Western Culture the transformation from enlightenment to postmodernism (and as a side note, there is much more to this argument but for the sake of being brief, you will just have to get the book to understand how Western Civilization has made this shift). Well’s ultimate end is to show how theology has become absent from Evangelicalism, but needed to show how Western Culture has made this shift as the exposition for his argument. One of the most brilliant points Well’s makes is about the clergy. In the most interesting chapter, Well’s describes how Pastors used to sign a binding contract to be the Pastor of a church for 25+ years. He says that today, that number has dropped to 3-5 years. The reason for this, he claims, is the professionalization of the clergy. In times past, the knowledge of a pastor used to be qualification enough to be in the ministry. Today, Pastors are hired not for their intellectual achievements or how well they teach, but what kind of leader they are and how they deal with finances etc. The primary role of the Pastor in days past was to teach: today, it emcompasses a wide variety of tasks. Well’s continues to talk about how Evangelical Pastors have ceased to preach a Christian message from the Bible that convicts to more appeasing sermons (that hardly resemble Christianity but rather some kind of “self help” seminar) that barely resemble Christian beliefs about sin and the Gospel. Pastors today are trying to get people in the doors and make them stay there through a message that appeals to the self rather than a righteous and holy God. It would only make sense that one gets people in the doors through any sort of method other than teaching the difficult portions of scripture for fear that it will drive people away. Therefore, theology takes a backseat to the self in modernity for fear of offending anyones personal beliefs. In the last chapter, Well’s talks about the thought process of modernity. In a very scathing review, he begins the discussion with an overview of the pagan mind from ancient times. They were pluralists, had no moral absolutes, were driven not by history but by nature etc. He makes the point that the modern mind believes itself to be superior to these ancient pagans because we’ve progressed into a degree of maturity with our “politically correct” ways and higher sense of morality and being; we’ve rid our civilization of all the blights that the ancients dealt with such as slavery, bigotry, warfare, etc. But the real irony that Well’s points out is that when you take into consideration that the ancient Hebrews saw their religious beliefs about God as rooted in history, that God acted objectively and that we see this progression through that lens, then we come to an objective truth: the Bible. The pagans on the other hand, see the world and specifically religion, as a privatized experience through nature. What is so interesting then, is that the pagans of old define what the postmodernists believe today, coming full circle. How can one reason that we have reached a “higher civilization” when the last century was most likely the most bloody time period of human existence? We see today the environmentalists worship nature/the world and cover it up with a disguise of conservation. Dr. Well’s articulates this much better than I can, so I encourage you to get the book. But his review on modern Evangelicalism is scathing and in some ways, quite frightening. Since I became a believer, I have often thought that theology has always been downplayed. Reading this book is all the more reason to continue to develop a mind that loves theology and to continue to study the queen of all sciences (as it was once called). A couple of thoughts about the book itself: this is deep. I think I will have to read it again much slower. Perhaps next year ! You just need a little time to see Well’s develop the argument. Other than that, this is a really essential book to anyone considering going into the ministry. Also this is just the first book in the series, so it does not give many answers to how to fix these problems. So just anticipate that when you’re reading.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maranatha

    This book is one of the most important books I have read that opens my eyes to see the problems of Evangelicalism. It is only later that I learned that Dr. Wells is approaching this from a Reformed perspective. The book definitely piques my interest in the relationship between faith and culture, the meaning of culture mandate, and the Reformed view of Scriptures and the world.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Terrence D.

    I realize "sociology" is a near expletive in many Christian circles today, despite the works of such an outstanding man like Max Weber — a Protestant and a Calvinist most known for his Sociological and Economic works (and who is likewise cited by Wells) — but it would be wrong not to consider Wells' book a sociological work as well. It is undoubtedly a socio-theological analysis of American Evangelicalism at large. It is an indictment on the professing institutions today that still carry the lab I realize "sociology" is a near expletive in many Christian circles today, despite the works of such an outstanding man like Max Weber — a Protestant and a Calvinist most known for his Sociological and Economic works (and who is likewise cited by Wells) — but it would be wrong not to consider Wells' book a sociological work as well. It is undoubtedly a socio-theological analysis of American Evangelicalism at large. It is an indictment on the professing institutions today that still carry the label "Evangelical" or even "Christian," where commercialism and materialism have essentially replaced actual evangelism and proper stewardship. Wells said everything I've ever wanted to say regarding my own limited observations of American Evangelicalism; from the abandonment of deep theology (that is, the love of God by the study of Him and His Word), to superficial religiosity; from the mortification of sin against God, to the mollification of bad feelings against self; from the love of truth, to its hatred. And though he doesn't quite give a specific definition for "Evangelicalism" as a monolithic movement, he does give a brief history of its etymology, and the subsequent diachronic adjectives to follow (e.g. Protestant Evangelical, Liberal Evangelical, etc.) — mere descriptors to lessen the fundamentalist connotations of the word "Evangelical." It might be a stretch to say this, considering my limited reading of Wells, but I consider him to be a cultural critic of American Evangelicalism as likened to the great H.L. Mencken, who was, without a doubt, the most incisive critic of American culture in general. Wells fearlessly attacks the sacred cows of American Evangelicalism without naming names which adds to the class of this work, on top of its accessibility. My only disagreement with Wells is the magnitude of blame he places upon the advent of Capitalism; as though the mere uninhibited exchange of goods and services by individuals and corporations should be to blame for man's innate covetousness and idolatry. To quote Ludwig von Mises from Human Action, "The concept of capitalism is as an economic concept immutable; if it means anything, it means the market economy." Mises likewise states that, "Economics is a value-free, theoretical science and as such avoids any judgment of value. It is not its task to tell people what ends they should aim at. It is a science of the means to be applied for the attainment of ends chosen, not a science of the choosing of ends. Ultimate decisions, the valuations and the choosing of ends, are beyond the scope of any science. Science never tells a man how he should act; it merely shows how a man must act if he wants to attain definite ends." So you see, I think Wells fails to criticize capitalism by the same definition given to it by its own proponents, but he does get right the subsequent materialism — the idolatrous striving for worldly goods at the expense of truth and justice — which has become easily accomplished due to the once burgeoning freedom of the economy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Al Datum

    It’s difficult to describe this book adequately. David Wells sets out to explain why he believes Christian theology is dying in America. He surveys both a historical and cultural landscape that resonates with what I’ve seen in the churches I’ve attended over the years. Instead of a recognition and submission to God and his holiness, we content ourselves with slogans, with church growth strategies, with a faith that caters to our emotional desires. It is a faith whose purpose is more about psycho It’s difficult to describe this book adequately. David Wells sets out to explain why he believes Christian theology is dying in America. He surveys both a historical and cultural landscape that resonates with what I’ve seen in the churches I’ve attended over the years. Instead of a recognition and submission to God and his holiness, we content ourselves with slogans, with church growth strategies, with a faith that caters to our emotional desires. It is a faith whose purpose is more about psychological health and emotional satisfaction than in putting to death the deeds of the flesh and giving anything and everything to the quest of becoming more Christlike. This book will frustrate readers. For those who embrace the new perspective on Christianity, it will frustrate because it says this does not honor God. For those who long for a return to a time when Christians took their faith seriously...when their faith was central to their entire life...the current state of things described in this book and the trajectory of our culture at present will be equally frustrating. I hope and pray to God that I’m the second variety. I hope and pray that I am never content to just go to a worship service each week so that I feel like I’m a good person and God is lucky to have me on his side. I hope and pray that my faith is never about finding personal pleasure and psychological cures. I hope and pray that I never become someone who is more interested in a strategy for growing the membership of the congregation than I am in surrendering my my will and my entire self to God. As the author points out repeatedly, there is only one truth. And it’s God’s truth. And the life of the Christian is not about being personally satisfied or entertained. It’s about surrendering our lives daily. It’s about letting God tell us the purpose of life rather than the culture around us. America is a very prosperous nation. And so many people feel that being a good American means they are a good Christian. This book points out the deep and dangerous flaws in a Christian faith devoid of theology. Devoid of a life spent seeking and clinging to God’s truth. May God grant that we all begin to take our faith so seriously that it creates the sort of impact on the world that Christians in the first century had on theirs. This is the problem raised in this book. And it’s the first step in finding the solution to turn our culture around and once again be God’s people.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mwansa

    This book is exceptional. I walked into it thinking I could properly describe what was wrong with the evangelical world and David Wells met me at the front door. Like a good doctor he showed me what tests we needed to do in order to figure out what the problem is. Then he walks you through the symptoms to explain what is going on but especially the underlying illness that has caused it all, and he ends the book with a brief overview to bring everything together in readiness of a follow-up book t This book is exceptional. I walked into it thinking I could properly describe what was wrong with the evangelical world and David Wells met me at the front door. Like a good doctor he showed me what tests we needed to do in order to figure out what the problem is. Then he walks you through the symptoms to explain what is going on but especially the underlying illness that has caused it all, and he ends the book with a brief overview to bring everything together in readiness of a follow-up book that will address the medication to the illness. Three things that stood out for me was the initial diagnosis. The church has imbibed so much of modern culture as it has naively bought into the idea that culture is neutral. Wells shows how so many of the Evangelical world, like the fish, is unable to tell it is wet because they have been swimming in it for so long. We have lost the comprehension of how our lives should be different from the world in the way we go about every day life. There is no real difference that we would be able to point out between the Christian and a good secular family. None. This is a problem. Theology has been lost. I loved the description of how theology has been lost in that it has been ignored into oblivion. The church goes about like theology does not matter. It has been left to the seminaries without realizing that theology that is left alone in the seminaries and is not in the custodianship of the church dies because theology must bleed out. The individual members should no longer view theology as something the pastor only should know but everyone should take it seriously because therein lies the foundation of our faith. A faith based on truth and not experience. We have turned our faith into something that is so subjective as though we believe in God as we do primarily because of what he has done for us. Wells takes us through the Bible and shows that believers who had more reason to believe based on experience did not do so. They believed it because it is true! Praise be to God our faith is true! How can we expect our faith to hold in trying times when it is not built on the truth of its nature, instead we build it on our experiences and like castles in the sand they inevitably crash under their own weight while we stand around pretending it was not coming

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mike Moses

    This book traces the decline of theology in the American evangelical church, as a result of modernization. Wells begins with a good deal of history, demonstrating that modernism, bolstered by technological advancement, has been nothing short of an epic revolution (albeit bloodless). He then moves to theology, positing the ideal of confessionalism leading to the cultivation of virtues. However, theology has been replaced in the church by therapy. Modern pastors are expected not to be primarily th This book traces the decline of theology in the American evangelical church, as a result of modernization. Wells begins with a good deal of history, demonstrating that modernism, bolstered by technological advancement, has been nothing short of an epic revolution (albeit bloodless). He then moves to theology, positing the ideal of confessionalism leading to the cultivation of virtues. However, theology has been replaced in the church by therapy. Modern pastors are expected not to be primarily theologians and teachers but CEO-type managers and psychologists. Ours is a feelings-based Christianity, affected more than we would like to admit by the power of television, which shapes culture and minds in an unprecedented way. Since around one third of Americans claim to have been born again, this should have changed our culture in significant ways. But evangelicalism has hardly made a difference in culture, having settled on a comfortable compromise with modernism. Capitalism and technology arose in conjunction with reformation teaching. But now, in many ways, these things have taken the place of God. Wells closes with an emphasis on objective truth, found in God‘s written revelation, which has always distinguished God’s people from surrounding pagan pluralism. A fresh vision of the holiness of God is the only way forward for the reformation of the American church. Twenty-six years later, it seems that Wells’ warnings and admonitions have been heeded by some, but are still ignored by far too many American pastors.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    This was an incredible read - a book that will stick with me for a very long time. At the same time it a labor of love to get through it, not because it was overly academic, but because it was very culture centered. I'm not used to reading about culture - secularism, modernism, etc - and anyone who isn't used to it will find it a bit straining to get through at times. That being said it is well worth it! This book isn't for everyone. It certainly is for those who have a special love for the chur This was an incredible read - a book that will stick with me for a very long time. At the same time it a labor of love to get through it, not because it was overly academic, but because it was very culture centered. I'm not used to reading about culture - secularism, modernism, etc - and anyone who isn't used to it will find it a bit straining to get through at times. That being said it is well worth it! This book isn't for everyone. It certainly is for those who have a special love for the church, so I think all ministers should consider taking the time to read this book. The final two chapters is where he brings the analysis of the rest of the chapters to it's conclusion of why theology has eroded in the church. He argues quite convincingly that modern life has eroded the church's capacity FOR theology as the reason theology is disappearing. That is all the analysis I'll be doing :) This is one of the most prophetic books I've read, as well. I wasn't a Christian in the 90's when this was written, but after reading I can see why the church was in the state it was (and continues to be) when I was saved in the first decade of this millennium.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Compelling, though I did not read this until about 30 years after it came out (I purchased it around 1995 and it sat on my shelf). If anything, his prescient description of Protestant failure to keep Theology central has only gotten worse since the writing of the book. I will be talking about his main points with folks for years to come. I think he nails the following: A) American culture is not Christian culture - Christianity helped form AC, but then modernity took it over and it is now quite s Compelling, though I did not read this until about 30 years after it came out (I purchased it around 1995 and it sat on my shelf). If anything, his prescient description of Protestant failure to keep Theology central has only gotten worse since the writing of the book. I will be talking about his main points with folks for years to come. I think he nails the following: A) American culture is not Christian culture - Christianity helped form AC, but then modernity took it over and it is now quite secular and materialist. B) The American Evangelical church sold out to culture over 100 years ago. He blames Finney for a lot of this, just as I have done for quite some time. C) If the habits and assumptions of our minds form the way we think about things, and the Evangelical thinks with the habits his culture has given to him, then we don't think biblically, but rather shadow some version of the secular, materialist, progressive, consumerist mind that our culture provides. We cannot unthink ourselves until we learn to think differently. D) Current Evangelicalism is a cult of self, not anything close to a cult of Christ.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Timothy

    This book is a commentary on the evangelical world of today's Christianity. One catalyst for Wells writing this (series of) book(s) was one of his theology students asking what was the use of theology insinuating that it was rather useless and unnecessary for the ministry. I felt some parts of the book could be much shorter, and I didn't really see the value of the large section about Wenham as interesting as it was. This was written almost 30 years ago, and I'm not sure if there has been much imp This book is a commentary on the evangelical world of today's Christianity. One catalyst for Wells writing this (series of) book(s) was one of his theology students asking what was the use of theology insinuating that it was rather useless and unnecessary for the ministry. I felt some parts of the book could be much shorter, and I didn't really see the value of the large section about Wenham as interesting as it was. This was written almost 30 years ago, and I'm not sure if there has been much improvement overall, and if what Wells says is true, the church at large really needs to take what he says seriously. This is not something one person can change, nor indeed something that will change overnight, but requires a sweeping generational change, re-centering the importance on theology, on the pastor as a minister of the word and truth, and the church as the Church of Jesus Christ.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Paul Herriott

    David Wells, never ceases to challenge or instill a sense of urgency. He is a historian that is able to point to current trends with dire warning and also call the church back to truth. This book is wide ranging, covering a variety of issues brought by modernity and the tragic results they have burdened the church with. This book is 25 years old, and yet it isn't yet limited by the time in which it was written, in fact it is surprisingly current. When read alone it has a 'sky is falling' tone, b David Wells, never ceases to challenge or instill a sense of urgency. He is a historian that is able to point to current trends with dire warning and also call the church back to truth. This book is wide ranging, covering a variety of issues brought by modernity and the tragic results they have burdened the church with. This book is 25 years old, and yet it isn't yet limited by the time in which it was written, in fact it is surprisingly current. When read alone it has a 'sky is falling' tone, but sometimes that is what is needed for people with their heads in the sand.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brent McDaris

    This book was written in 1994 - when I was too young to understand the state of the church or evangelicals at the time. However, from reading this book, it is easy to see that although I think there are small pockets of light, there still remains a lot of the same issues today. There were a lot of statistics that were mentioned in the book that are outdated now. It makes me wish another edition would be written. But bottom line, this book was great and needs to be read and re-read by anyone in a This book was written in 1994 - when I was too young to understand the state of the church or evangelicals at the time. However, from reading this book, it is easy to see that although I think there are small pockets of light, there still remains a lot of the same issues today. There were a lot of statistics that were mentioned in the book that are outdated now. It makes me wish another edition would be written. But bottom line, this book was great and needs to be read and re-read by anyone in a leadership position at any church.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Pendleton

    “The New Testament comes to us with definite positive teaching. It claims to be the truth. It bases religion on knowledge. A religion based on mere feeling is the vaguest most unreliable most unstable of all things. A strong stable religious life can be built on no other ground than that of intelligent conviction... this requires for its underpinning and indeed its explanation a truth that is objectively true...”

  21. 5 out of 5

    Wes F

    Incredibly relevant, insightful, and prophetic book on the state of Evangelicalism, at least as it stood in the 1980s & early 1990s. Started this book back at the beginning of the year (library book), but wasn't able to finish by the time we headed back overseas on Mar 4th. Checked out from library again and was able to finish on our vacation in Boston over Thanksgiving. Incredibly relevant, insightful, and prophetic book on the state of Evangelicalism, at least as it stood in the 1980s & early 1990s. Started this book back at the beginning of the year (library book), but wasn't able to finish by the time we headed back overseas on Mar 4th. Checked out from library again and was able to finish on our vacation in Boston over Thanksgiving.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael Abraham

    Where has theology gone in our churches? Wells contends that pastors have forsaken their role as preachers of the Word and traded in biblical truth for personal experience. He wrote this book 25 years ago, sadly it seems things are only getting worse. A reformation is in need, Wells argues, and I hope you read this book and commit yourself making God's Word central to your church. Where has theology gone in our churches? Wells contends that pastors have forsaken their role as preachers of the Word and traded in biblical truth for personal experience. He wrote this book 25 years ago, sadly it seems things are only getting worse. A reformation is in need, Wells argues, and I hope you read this book and commit yourself making God's Word central to your church.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hank Pharis

    (NOTE: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book or a B. 3 stars means a very good book or a B+. 4 stars means an outstanding book or an A {only about 5% of the books I read merit 4 stars}. 5 stars means an all time favorite or an A+ {Only one of 400 or 500 books rates this!).This is a very important book. I hope to do a real review someday. (NOTE: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book or a B. 3 stars means a very good book or a B+. 4 stars means an outstanding book or an A {only about 5% of the books I read merit 4 stars}. 5 stars means an all time favorite or an A+ {Only one of 400 or 500 books rates this!).This is a very important book. I hope to do a real review someday. flag Like  · see review Jul 23, 2017 Ally rated it liked it Pessimistic and vaguely elitist. Good observation of how evangelical churches focus on self and feeling instead of objective truth. Since was written in the 90s could be updated to notice cultural impacts of internet instead of TV. flag Like  · see review Aug 12, 2018 Dylan Hutchens rated it really liked it a good book reinforcing some earlier suspicions I've had about our "modern times." Wells has been helpful in bringing this home from an historical perspective, although geographically located to America most of his conclusions are transferable to Australian contexts. a good book reinforcing some earlier suspicions I've had about our "modern times." Wells has been helpful in bringing this home from an historical perspective, although geographically located to America most of his conclusions are transferable to Australian contexts. flag Like  · see review Sep 05, 2019 mpsiple rated it really liked it Insightful. Some profound critiques of the modern West (what he calls Our Time). I wasn't impressed with his solutions, but he does a pretty good job showing the extent of the problems and how they've affected the church. Insightful. Some profound critiques of the modern West (what he calls Our Time). I wasn't impressed with his solutions, but he does a pretty good job showing the extent of the problems and how they've affected the church. flag Like  · see review View 1 comment Sep 24, 2019 Rob Messenger rated it really liked it Reading this for the first time 25 years after it was written comes with the benefits of hindsight. I wonder if it was written now what we should make of the state of our churches today. I am looking forward to reading more by David Wells... flag Like  · see review Apr 07, 2019 John Dube rated it it was amazing Shelves: theology Terrific! This book provides a detailed analysis of modernity's influence on the church. It's super helpful and a must read for pastors/leaders in the church. Terrific! This book provides a detailed analysis of modernity's influence on the church. It's super helpful and a must read for pastors/leaders in the church. flag Like  · see review May 03, 2019 Russ rated it really liked it Shelves: culture, own, religion, theology, evangelicalism On the whole, Wells got for more right (dare I say prophetic?) than he got wrong. flag Like  · see review Jun 15, 2019 Mark Evans rated it it was amazing Incredible blend of history, sociology and theology. Excellent but a very hard read. flag Like  · see review « previous 1 2 3 next »

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