Thursday, October 09, 2008

Excerpt from Above all Earthly Powers

I have been reading through David Wells' book entitled Above all Earthly Powers: Christ in a Postmodern World, before going on to his latest book The Courage to be Protestant. I don't exactly take to the sociological analysis portions, but overall the book does presents its case of the collapse of Evangelicalism as it succumbs to the Zeitgeist or Spirit of the Age. Anyway, here is a good excerpt which describes the error of the entire seeker-sensitivity philosophy and methodology and also "seeker-sensitivity version 2", as seen by some in the rush to "contextualize" the Christian faith and to be "missional".

Many in the new seeker-sensitive experiment in "doing church" have seen only the surface habits of this postmodern world and have not really understood its Eros spirituality. Theirs is an experiment in tactics in which innumerable questions have been asked about the ways the Church can become successful in this culture and they are all prefaced by the word how. How do we get on the wavelength of Generation Xers? How do we do worship so that the transition from home to church, from mall to church, and from unbelief into a context of belief, is seamless and even unnoticed? How do we speak about Christian faith to those who only want techniques for survival in life? How can we be motivational for those who need a lift without burdening them? How can we say what we want to say in church when the audience will give us only a small slice of their attention, especially if we are not amusing? And what is emerging, as the evangelical Church continues to empty itself of theology, is that it now find that it is tapping, wittingly or not, into this broad cultural yearning for spirituality, and capitalizing on that disposition's inclination not to be religious. Evangelical spirituality without theology, that even sometimes despises theology, parallels almost exactly the broader cultural spirituality that is without religion. Evangelical faith without theology, without the structure and discipline of truth, is not Agape faith but it is much close to Eros spirituality.

This, however, is not understood. Church talks about "reaching" the culture turns, almost inevitably, into a discussion about tactics and methodology, not about worldviews. It is only about tactics and not about strategy. It is about seduction and not about truth, about success and not about confrontation. However, without strategy, the tactics inevitably fail; without truth, all of the arts of seduction which the churches are practicing sooner or later are seen to be the empty charade that they are; and because the emerging worldview is not being engaged, the Church has little it can really say. Indeed, one has to ask how much it actually wants to say. Biblical truth contradicts this cultural spirituality, and that contradiction is hard to bear. Biblical truth displaces it, refuses to allow it its operating assumptions, declares to it its bankruptcy. Here, indeed, is an anti-god, dressed up in the garb of authenticity, but whose world is a world of fiction. Is the evangelical Church faithful enough to explode the worldview of this new spiritual search? Is it brave enough to contradict what has wide cultural approval? The verdict may not finally be in but it seems quite apparent that while the culture is burning, the evangelical Church is fiddling precisely because it has decided it must be so like the culture to be successful.

[David F. Wells, Above all Earthly Powers: Christ in a Postmodern World (Eerdmans, Grand Rapid, MI, USA, 2005), 162-163]


Tartanarmy said...

This is a great quote, and really gets to the heart of the matter. Thanks for posting this. When I get some money, I need to buy some books!


PuritanReformed said...


yes, it does. All the best in your book buying spree.