No Place for Truth, or, Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? By David F. Wells. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1993. 318 pp. Paper $14.99.
This is one of the best books I have read in years.
Wells, a seminary professor of historical and systematic theology, discusses key aspects of the decline of interest in biblical truth in America. He is very thorough in his presentation. He discusses everything from the influence of television, the shift in preaching and the role of the pastor, changes in theological education, changes in theological publications, and illiteracy.
What is at stake, Wells argues, is the very life of evangelicalism. “Theology is dying…because the Church has lost its capacity for it. And while some hail this loss as a step forward toward the hope of new evangelical vitality, it is in fact a sign of creeping death” (p. 301). Creeping death—a powerful indictment!
Concerning today’s pastors Wells writes, “In this new clerical order, technical and managerial competence in the church have plainly come to dominate the definition of pastoral service. It is true that matters of spirituality loom large in the churches, but it is not at all clear that churches expect the pastor to do anything more than to be a good friend. The older role of the pastor as broker of truth has been eclipsed by the newer managerial functions” (p. 233). And again, “The evangelical pastor is now the C.E.O.; in the pulpit, the pastor is a psychologist whose task is to engineer good relations and warm feelings” (p. 177).
By contrast, Wells argues that “the fundamental requirement of the Christian leader is not a knowledge of where the stream of popular opinion is flowing but knowledge of where the stream of God’s truth lies” (p. 215).
This is a powerful, convicting book. I highly recommend it, especially to pastors, church boards, and other concerned Christians.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society