Written expressly to encourage renewal in evangelical theology, this book explores the interface between Christian faith and the modern world in entirely new ways and with uncommon rigor.This sweeping analysis examines the collapse of theology in the church, the academy, and modern culture, raising profound questions about the future of conservative Protestant faith.
Has something indeed happened to evangelical theology and to evangelical churches? According to David Wells, the evidence indicates that evangelical pastors have abandoned their traditional role as ministers of the Word to become therapists and "managers of the small enterprises we call churches." Along with their parishioners, they have abandoned genuine Christianity and biblical truth in favor of the sort of inner-directed experiential religion that now pervades Western society.
Specifically, Wells explores the wholesale disappearance of theology in the church, the academy, and modern culture. Western culture as a whole, argues Wells, has been transformed by modernity, and the church has simply gone with the flow. The new environment in which we live, with its huge cities, triumphant capitalism, invasive technology, and pervasive amusements, has vanquished and homogenized the entire world. While the modern world has produced astonishing abundance, it has also taken a toll on the human spirit, emptying it of enduring meaning and morality.
Seeking respite from the acids of modernity, people today have increasingly turned to religions and therapies centered on the self. And, whether consciously or not, evangelicals have taken the same path, refashioning their faith into a religion of the self. They have been coopted by modernity, have sold their soul for a mess of pottage. According to Wells, they have lost the truth that God stands outside all human experience, that he still summons sinners to repentance and belief regardless of their self-image, and that he calls his church to stand fast in his truth against the blandishments of a godless world.
The first of three volumes meant to encourage renewal in evangelical theology (the other two to be written by Cornelius Plantinga Jr. and Mark Noll), No Place for Truth is a contemporary jeremiad, a clarion call to all evangelicals to note well what a pass they have come to in capitulating to modernity, what a risk they are running by abandoning historic orthodoxy. It is provocative reading for scholars, ministers, seminary students, and all theologically concerned individuals.
David F. Wells is the Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. An ordained Congregationalist minister, he is also the author of more than a dozen previous books.
"A stinging indictment of Evangelicalism's theological corruption."
"An excellent addition to a theologian's library, this thorough study of the development of current evangelical expression will also inform the philosopher, the social observer, the cultural anthropologist, and even the interested general reader. . . Though profound, the book is easily approachable. Ecumenical thinkers will rank this presentation as the evangelical contribution to current interfaith dialogue."
Religious Studies Review
"A ground-breaking work in evangelical self-criticism. . . This book is must reading not only for evangelicals, but for those who know little and care less about the current evangelical constituency that now numbers a third of U.S. population. The acuity of Wells's analysis, as well as his self-critical spirit, show something of the intellectual prowess and recuperative powers within evangelicalism, and thus represent a small counterpoint to his otherwise accurate assessments."
"While David Wells's careful reflection on the state of evangelicalism is firmly rooted in an American context, his analysis is so powerful and far-reaching that the Church throughout the Western world can scarcely to ignore it. . . This is a compelling book which must be taken seriously."
"Wells's book is designed to be controversial. . . Many will agree with his incisive critique of modernity. Many of his pithy statements . . . will surely find their way into sermons. . . Wells is right in his claim that evangelicalism, if not evangelical theology, is flirting with abandoning objective truth through benign neglect. . . Wells's book can serve as a catalyst for evangelical self-examination."
"I can find no fault with the method, style or validity of Wells' presentation. His demonstration of the changes wrought by modernity was both insightful and enjoyable; it provided the essential backdrop for his arguments about individualism and conformity, and their effects on the twentieth-century Christian. Especially impressive was his articulation of the changes wrought in the pastoral office. . . His writing style is scholarly, but accessible. . . . I would highly recommend No Place for Truth to everyone who now holds, or in the future plans to hold, a position of leadership in the church. It should be required reading at evangelical theological seminaries."