I believe the review by bookwomanjoan says it all and I couldn't say it better. Miller doesn't buffer us from the severity of the problem he sees in current evangelicalism. I think he is exactly right. I don't hold out much hope for a recovery either. I think the real hope may lay in the home church movement. Like him I believe there will always be mainline churches, at least buildings, even if no one comes. Wh the current apostasy in the protestant church is added to the age old apostasies in Catholicism, et. al., the truth will become harder to find, even in places where we have always expected to. A great book at a good price. Well worth the read.
Evangelicalism is a term defined various ways so Miller starts there. He includes those who have a personal faith in Jesus Christ and believe in His atoning sacrifice, miracles, virgin birth, resurrection, second coming, and the doctrine of redemption.
He is clear that this book is about American evangelicalism. He writes that it is in decline, lethargic and with insipid faith. The constants are gone, he says. "The problem is that the Bible is no longer the agreed-upon centerpiece of evangelical thought." (25)
He analyzes the demise: He explores the effect of the mega-church and major ideologies on the church. We have dropped the way of life that valued devout worship. We have lost our influence on the arts. He writes, "That loss of power to influence is the force behind the decline [of worship]." (56) He comments on missions and postdenominationalism. He explains the dilution of core beliefs and reflects on the effect of computers on the church. He looks at copycat worship and sermons and computer driven faith. "The evangelical world is flat, and we are vanishing partly because its flatness is universally dull and uninteresting." (104) He comments on anti-intellectualism and the dumbing down of evangelicals: "Evangelicals are dumbing down at twice the rate of non-Christians." (132) He notes a similar attitude toward the arts. He calls for a marriage of mind and heart, of knowledge and passion. He shows where the secular age has triumphed over the Christian world and the growth of the secular culture, such as our addiction to materialism. He reveals how we have whitewashed secular movements and Christianized them, thinking we are creative.
"If our way of life is to remain on the earth, there must be a renaissance of biblical values, and a re-education of Christian youth that will stabilize the covenant faith of their parents. This is not a renaissance that we can muddle through, slowing the preservation of our way of life. The day is late. The time to begin is now." (161)
In the final chapters of the book, Miller sketches a plan for individual survival. He writes, "I say individual because I hold not the slightest hope for the triumph of the entire faith." (191) To try to preserve the evangelical movement is pointless, Miller argues. "Each of us - one by one - must seek our own individual vitality." (196) The way to save the whole is to focus on the parts. Yet we are not to give up hope. Don't forget, God made the dry bones live.
As a retired Christian bookseller who has watched the evangelical church since the mid 70s, I agree with Miller. The evangelical demise is real and observable. I also agree with Miller in that the hope for the future rests with each individual Christian. He has great suggestions as how we can restore vitality to our own faith. Yes, we need revival and, yes, it must start with each of us.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.