Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Courage to Be Protestant

David Wells's new book is now available: The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World.

You can see online the table of contents and preface (PDF).

Wells begins by explaining how the volume is both a summary but much more:
This book started out as a simple summary of the four volumes which had preceded it. All books, however, develop a life of their own and this has been no exception. I needed to update what had been said in the previous volumes because some of it had been begun more than a decade ago. In addition to this, I had to compress these volumes into a single account. How does one reduce 1,100 pages to 200?

Once this work got underway, I found myself not so much compressing as recasting all that I had done and then updating it. The result is that this book is less of a summary now and more of an attempt at getting at the essence of the project which has engaged me over the last fifteen years. And, hopefully, it will be more accessible than the previous books, not to mention less taxing on readers!

Regarding the title, in chapter 1 Wells writes: "The key to the future is not the capitulation that we see in both the marketers and the emergents. It is courage. The courage to be faithful to what Christianity in its biblical forms has always stood for across the ages."

And here are the closing two paragraphs of the book, which I think capture Wells's burden:
I believe that today there is a deep yearning for churches in which God is God. Those are the churches which most easily become the communities we have all lost, where relations are developed, even in this fallen world, in the sight of God. They are where people strive to be truthful in those relations, which really is the key to the integrity and integrity is what ties together our public and private lives. Churches, in fact, need to be communities who love the truth God has revealed and, in so doing, become serious and joyous about the God of that truth and intent upon serving him in his world. The Church is not a business, not an experiment, not a product to be sold. It is an outpost of the Kingdom, a sign of things to come in Christ’s sovereign rule, which is now hidden but will be made open and public. Then all of the world will bow before him in recognition of who he is.

And this, I dare say, is the only answer we have for the Church’s existence and service. It is the anticipation of that great day. It is pointing beyond itself to that great day. It lives in this world but it lives because it has seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. This is the knowledge that changes everything. Business savvy, organizational wizardry, cultural relevance, are simply no substitute for this. Unless the Lord rebuilds the evangelical Church today, as we humble ourselves before him and hear afresh his Word, it will not be rebuilt.
As they say: read the whole thing!