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5 Stars Out Of 5
The age-old Gospel and the modern mind
October 15, 2012
One of the great challenges of preaching in our day is the need to understand the audience to whom we are speaking. David Wells is not only a biblical scholar but a student of the postmodern era in which we live. Wells correctly refers to postmodernism age as one of consumerism, nihilism, and egotism. It is characterized by the ancient narcissistic dogma of "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die." Wells not only exposes this mindset which has been ingrained into us through the current indoctrination of education, media, and politics, but he does a wonderful job of correlating it with biblical teaching and showing that there truly is "nothing new under the sun." Human cultures have embraced this philosophy before, Wells argues, but never with the wide-spread affluence that characterizes today's western world. We have moved beyond the Enlightenment that displaced God with man. Many of our contemporaries see themselves as self-sufficient and in no need of a supposed "god," other than the one they believe themselves to be. Life is to be lived for the moment because the next one may never be. Death is the final outcome with no judgement beyond. In short, if this is all there is, then there is little room for hope. It is at this point, Wells argues that the Gospel--rather than being irrelevant--is able to speak to the modern mind. However, the author contends, the Church is missing the opportunity to present an alternative by becoming too much like the world it hopes to reach. Wells pulls no punches in his criticism of ministries which are that in name only. His plea is one of calling the Church of Jesus Christ to return to its distinctiveness and not feeling the need to apologize for or disguise its message. People are looking for something bigger than themselves to believe in, which accounts for the rise in "spirituality" in our day. At the same time, ironically, "religion" is taboo to many. It is the true followers of Jesus Christ who have the answer. The Gospel speaks to a world without centerdness, without absolutes, and without meaning. It needs to be turned loose and proclaimed in all its power and allow the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of men in ways that go beyond the latest marketing fads. "Above All Earthly Pow'rs" should be read by pastors and preachers who have fallen out of touch with the mindset brought to our Sunday morning services by those who have bought into the philosophy of the postmodern age. Read it slowly and read it well. It is not an easy book to digest, but the understanding it provides is well worth the investment.
Above All Earthly Powrs is the fourth and final volume in a series that includes No Place for Truth, God in the Wasteland and Losing Our Virtue. Each of these books deals with a theological issue in light of the times. Above All Earthly Powrs follows the same format, this time addressing Christology and how it is to be preached, in a postmodern, multiethnic, multireligious society (pp. 7-8).As in the earlier works, Wells ably sounds the alarm, warning of the inward seeds of destruction now present in evangelicalism. He deals with relevant issues as diverse as the Enlightenment, psychotherapy, immigration, the new spirituality, nihilism, postmodernity, the resurrection of Christ, self-help programs, debates over substitionary atonement, justification, open theism, the seeker-sensitive church growth movement, and more.All of these issues are examined in light of what Christology has become in a postmodern world and what must be done to re-establish Christologys biblical understanding and role.This is a vital book written by a careful, thoughtful theologian and scholar. I believe that, along with the first three books in the series, Above all Earthly Powrs is a must read for pastors, theologians and church leaders who want to render biblical guidance to the people of God in the twenty-first century.
Thank you David Wells for putting together another well researched, well thought out volume! (the 4th volume in a series, though my 2nd read). The book recently spurred on a conference of the same name put on by Desiring God ministries. It is readable and valuable for pastors and the thoughtful layperson. The book takes its time to state it's case, perhaps a little too paced for many readers. Not the kind of work easily plundered for quick summaries and apologetic arguments. For the patient, thoughtful, unhurried reader I think you will find perseverance pays of in the end.