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].

The Gospel According to Jesus — 20 Years Later

Back twenty years ago the evangelical world was torn by a controversy over the very nature of salvation — known then as the “lordship controversy.”  Out of the context of that controversy Dr. John MacArthur would write one of the most important books ever to emerge from his ministry.  In The Gospel According to Jesus Dr. MacArthur got right to the heart of the matter.

The urgency?  Dr. MacArthur rightly believes that “nothing matters more than what Scripture says about the good news of salvation.”   His book was a much-needed corrective to dangerous misunderstandings of the Gospel found commonly among some evangelical teachers twenty years ago.  The release of this new edition, updated after two decades, is an alarm that these misrepresentations of the Gospel still threaten today.

I was recently asked to rank the most important evangelical books of the last twenty-five years.  In my judgment, The Gospel According to Jesus belongs in the top ten of that urgent list.

An excerpt:

The gospel in vogue today holds forth a false hope to sinners.  It promises them that they can have eternal life yet continue to live in rebellion against God.  Indeed, it encourages people to claim Jesus as Savior yet defer until later the commitment to obey Him as Lord.  It promises salvation from hell but not necessarily freedom from iniquity.  It offers false security to people who revel in the sins of the flesh and spurn the way of holiness.  By separating faith from faithfulness, it teaches that intellectual assent is as valid as a wholehearted obedience to the truth.

Thus the good news of Christ has given way to the bad news of an insidious easy-believism that makes no moral demands on the lives of sinners.  It is not the same message Jesus proclaimed.

Getting Personal about Personal Evangelism

Just yesterday, a pastor told me of a candidate for ordination to the Gospel ministry who told the examining council that he had never shared the Gospel with another person one-on-one. That was shocking enough. But the real shock came when the pastor reported that the ordination council nevertheless recommended the man for ordination — to the Gospel ministry, no less.

Perhaps this is not so shocking in light of the fact that so many Christians never share their faith in Christ with others. In his important new book, The Gospel & Personal Evangelism [Crossway Books], Mark Dever writes of his hope that this reality can be reversed. “We want evangelism to be normal — in our lives and in our churches,” he writes.

Dever is pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC — a church that practices what Dever preaches. In The Gospel & Personal Evangelism, Dever defines the Gospel, reminds us that all Christians are to share Christ with others, and rejects the idea that this is just too much to expect of most Christians. He grounds evangelism and the Gospel in God’s passion to save sinners through faith in Christ and argues — persuasively — that personal evangelism should be normal for Christians.

Along the way, he also offers several correctives. He helpfully insists that social action and apologetics, for example, are ministry but not evangelism. In his words:

Evangelism is not an imposition of our ideas upon others. It is not merely personal testimony. It is not merely social action. It may not involve apologetics, and it is not the same thing as the results of evangelism. Evangelism is telling the wonderful truth about God, the great news about Jesus Christ. When we understand this, then obedience to the call to evangelize can become certain and joyful. Understanding this increases evangelism as it moves from being a guilt-driven burden to a joyful privilege.


The Christian call to evangelize is not simply a call to persuade people to make decisions, but rather to proclaim to them the good news of salvation in Christ, to call them to repentance, and to give God glory for regeneration and conversion.

We do not fail in our evangelism if we faithfully tell the gospel to someone who is not subsequently converted; we fail only if we do not faithfully tell the gospel at all.

That failure is writ large across the church today. The Gospel & Personal Evangelism is a much-needed corrective.

Can a Christian Deny the Virgin Birth?

Can a true Christian deny the virgin birth? This question would perplex
the vast majority of Christians throughout the centuries, but modern
denials of biblical truth make the question tragically significant. Of
all biblical doctrines, the doctrine of Christ’s virginal conception
has often been the specific target of modern denial and attack.

Read Article

Heresy in the Cathedral

The Rt. Rev. Peter Jensen, Australia’s Archbishop of Sydney, is making headlines for denying a heretic access to the pulpits of the churches under his…

Read Article

No, I’m Not Offended

Aren’t you offended? That is the question many Evangelicals are being asked in the wake of a recent document released by the Vatican. The document…

Read Article
1 5 6 7 8 9 13