THE BLEEDING OF THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH by David F Wells
Published by the Banner of Truth Trust 15 pages. Available from the Free Presbyterian Bookroom, 133 Woodlands Road, Glasgow, G3 6LE. At £1.00.
THIS is a belated review of a booklet by a seminary teacher in the USA, which analyses the present weak condition of the evangelical Church, especially in his own country. This analysis was originally given at a conference and the booklet gives, in much briefer form, the arguments of his books, No Place for Truth and God in the Wasteland, both published by Eerdmans and IVP.
The author sees that a concern for doctrine, present 25 years ago, has been replaced by an emphasis on marketing. The Church today views the person who comes to a service as a consumer: “What they want is not personal salvation” but “a sense of personal well-being”. And he asks, “Is it right to allow sinners, hostile in their nature both to God and His law, to define how the Church is going to do its business? I think not.” He also expresses concern that ministers now have the outlook of “professionals”, who view their work as part of a career: “The importance of theology is eclipsed by the clamour for management skills, biblical preaching by entertaining story-telling, godly character by engaging personality, and the work of the ministry as the art of sustaining a career.”
A further vital point is the question of how regeneration is viewed in the USA, where 32% of the population would claim to be born again. But when people were asked, “Do you go to church with some regularity, do you pray with some regularity, and do you have some minimal structure of formal Christian belief?” the proportion dropped to 8%. The author believes that further probing would bring the figure down further, to 1% or 2%. This much lower figure is itself almost certainly still too high. In his other two books, however, the matter of whether professed conversions are genuine or not deserves much greater emphasis than he has given it.
The booklet concludes by emphasising the need to recover “the lost Word of God” and “a fresh vision of God as holy”. We have here a useful survey of what is wrong with the evangelical Church today, but one statement is decidedly not scriptural: that God “against His own nature has reconciled sinners to Himself in Christ”. Rather, it is one of the glories of the divine provision for sinners that it was made in perfect harmony with His holiness.
– K. D. M.