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On the Other Hand, Protestant Courage

David F. Wells is, hands down, one of the most insightful analysts of contemporary Christianity.  Well known as the Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Wells is a theologian best known for four courageous and important books, No Place for Truth, God in the Wasteland, Losing Our Virtue, and Above All Earthly Pow’rs.

Now, in The Courage to Be Protestant, Wells offers what amounts to a fifth volume in his series–a capstone to his argument.

In The Courage to Be Protestant, Wells bravely criticizes those who would offer theological and spiritual reductionism in the name of marketing as well as those who would steer the Evangelical movement toward the postmodern embrace of the “Emergents.”

Looking at present-day Evangelicalism, Wells sees shrinking doctrine and a disappearing church.  It takes no courage to “sign-up” as a Protestant, he argues, but it takes considerable courage to believe and act as a Protestant.

The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World is must reading.   After reading this book, go back and read Wells’ previous four-volume series.

An excerpt:

Traditional Christian faith holds to the outside God who stands over against us.  He is known not because we have discovered him, but because he has made himself known in Scripture and in Christ.  We are not left to piece together our understanding of him.  He has unveiled and defined himself for us.  He has broken his concealment.  He has come into view and has told us who he is and how we are to live.

The inside god of this contemporary spirituality is different.  He emerges out of the psychology, the inner depths, of the seeker.  He is known through and within the self, and we piece together our knowledge of him (or her, or it) from the fragments of our experience coupled with our intuitions.  In so many ways this god, this sacred reality, is indistinguishable from how we experience ourselves.

I discussed this important book with author David Wells on the June 5, 2008 edition of The Albert Mohler Program [listen here].