I am very pleased that my latest book, The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs in the New Spiritual Openness was released yesterday by Multnomah Books. This new book takes a look at many of the most controversial issues facing the church today. My hope is that it will serve the church well.
Here is the Preface to The Disappearance of God:
Has God disappeared? The tragic reality is that we are living in an age that is marked by so much spiritual and theological confusion that the God of the Bible has largely disappeared from view — replaced by less imposing deities that are more amenable to the modern mind.
In one sense, we are witnessing the result of secularization and the evaporation of biblical theism from our public life. To this we must add the privatization of truth and the fact that millions of Americans claim a divine right to their own spiritual cocoon and belief system. As the song suggests, Americans now lay claim to “their own personal Jesus.” This personal vision of Jesus Christ may well bear little or no resemblance to Jesus as he is revealed in the Bible.
Indeed, the abdication of biblical faith is one of the hallmarks of our age – whether you prefer to call it postmodern, hypermodern, or post-postmodern. Yet, once the faith is severed from biblical authority, Christianity becomes essentially plastic; a malleable and changeable belief system that just begs for transformation into some other shape and substance.
The situation is complicated further by the embrace of an “openness” that is not open to authentic biblical Christianity. “Tolerance” becomes a code-word for avoiding truth and “openness” means never having to make a judgment about truth at all.
A rescue from this predicament would appear more hopeful but for the fact that the church has, in large part, apparently joined the revolution. Theological fads and fashions dot the American religious landscape, and far too many Christian churches flirt with doctrinal disaster.
As always, truth is the essential issue. Where a clear notion of truth is absent, Christianity becomes more of an attitude than a belief system. But belief has always stood at the center of Christianity, and belief presupposes a truth that can and must be known.
The issues addressed within this book are matters of continuing concern within the Christian church. Intelligent and faithful Christians should know of these issues, and this book is intended to help believers to understand what is at stake.
In the end, the hope for the church is the hope of our lives – Jesus Christ. As our Lord promised, the gates of Hell shall not prevail over his church. This is a promise we can trust, even (and especially) in the face of current controversies and concerns.
God has certainly not disappeared, but the belief that he has sets our present challenge squarely before us. We will soon find out whether this generation of Christians is up to the challenge.