By David F. Wells
Eerdmans, 2008, 272 pages
After returning to the Lord after a 23-year absence I was very surprised to see how much the church in America has changed. Taking the place of a dwindling number of traditional churches are now seeker/purpose-driven churches and emergent churches. What’s all this about?
In this book, evangelical theologian and minister, David Wells, takes aim at the seeker and emergent models. Seeker churches use the latest marketing tools and technology to draw visitors. Content and format are overtly culture-friendly while preaching and doctrine are decidedly on the light side. Emergent churches use the Bible as a starting point to a self-discovery “narrative” which suggests truth/s rather than declares it. Emergents are so culture-friendly they’ve adopted much of the relativism that surrounds us in this post-modern era. In both types the vital distinctives of evangelical Protestantism – the Five Solas – are being compromised or dismissed altogether.
Wells is extremely critical of both movements and supports a return to the traditional church/worship model. I cautiously recommend this book to those interested in learning more about the seeker and emergent models and how they compare to the traditional church but be forewarned that the theology gets VERY heavy. It’s definitely not a breezy read for the beach.
My opinion? I’ll take some traditional hymn singing and the pastor preaching from the pulpit in a suit every Sunday but it looks like those days are fading fast. However, I’m grateful just to have a church to go to where the Bible is preached without compromise. They seem to be getting harder to find. But it is a little disconcerting to see how pastors’ obligatory Sunday outfit de rigueur is now jeans, sneakers, and a flannel shirt.