This is the second in a series of posts on books about church. Today I’m reviewing two more excellent books about today’s church. These books describe the failure of many churches to remain focused on biblical truth. Many churches espouse false beliefs or syncretism – combine contradictory beliefs. Both books also offer positive solutions. Here’s the link for Best Books About Church Part 1.
Bad Religion: How we Became a Nation of Heretics by Ross Douthat gives a detailed, carefully researched study on the decline of Christianity in the United States in the last fifty years. He says that “American democracy, while formally secular, has always depended on religion to provide a moral framework for its citizens.” The decline in faith has impacted our morals, both private and public. Douthat says: “Faith has been steadily marginalized with increasingly disastrous results” and he argues that America doesn’t have too much religion, or too little religion, but rather, Bad Religion. The decline of traditional Christianity has led to many destructive “pseudo-Christianities.”
Douthat gives a detailed account of the reasons for the decline in faith including observations about social trends. He cites the effect of many heretics – John Spong, as well as misguided leaders, Joel Osteen (“Pray and grow rich”), Joyce Meyers (“Obey me and you’ll be blessed”), Elizabeth Gilbert (“God dwells within you as yourself “) as well as Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, and Oprah Winfrey.
He concludes with a hope for revival and renewal of orthodox Christianity and his perspective on how this might be achieved. This is an excellent book for scholarly readers. The details became tedious for me – though I learned much and I’m glad I read it.
The Courage to be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers and Emergents in the Postmodern World by David Wells explores significant issues for the church today as indicated by the sub-title. Wells, a Congregational minister, theologian and author, addresses five doctrinal themes: Truth, God, Self, Christ and the Church. Wells urges the evangelical church to have the courage to be faithful to its biblical roots. He laments the light-weight topical messages in many churches today. In many churches psychological wholeness is emphasized rather than biblical holiness. Wells says, “Unless the congregation is being confronted—is being informed by the truth of God’s Word—it will leave as empty and confused as when it came in, no matter how good it may feel about itself. Unless the congregation is learning to think God’s thoughts after him in this world, one that is highly modernized and postmodern in its ethos, it will not be able to function with a Christian worldview.”
I recommend both of these books.
“On this Rock I will build my church.” Matt.16:18