This little church had none G. Gilley with J. Wegter. Paperback: 236 pages. Publisher: Evangelical Press Books, Faverdale North, Darlington DL3 0PH, England. ISBN 9 780852 347089.
The title with its sub-title – ‘A church in search of the truth’ – is somewhat misleading. In fact, the author examines some churches in the USA and focuses on the social context in which they operate and their methods and gospel message. He considers the A-F movement, the emergent church, lectio divina, amongst other issues, whilst the people he looks at include Osteen (a ‘household name’), Webber, McLaren, Barna and a particular book, The Secret. These are all presenting a false picture of Christianity. Some of this, however, may be lost on a British readership.
The writer reaches the damaging conclusion that various philosophies are infiltrating many churches whose methods and message are not true to scripture. Chapter headings include ‘The “Prosperity Gospel” Goes Mainstream’, ‘The Challenge of Pragmatism’ and ‘The New Atheism’. This last chapter looks at the influence and teaching of Dawkins. Quite how relevant this is to believers in local Christ-honouring and scripturally based churches is a moot point. Indeed, what exactly is the thesis of the book is at times difficult to discern.
This is the more apparent when we reach parts 2 and 3. Part 2 looks at how pastors – that is the pastor in/of a local church – should approach their ministry today. Some helpful observations are made. Part 3 deals with evangelism and, in particular, focuses on repentance as a key part of the gospel message and on the contrast between the sinful, erroneous worldview of the unregenerate and the biblical worldview. Again, helpful thoughts are expressed. J. Wegter writes three of the four chapters of part 3. These are coherently presented. However, they are dealing only with part of the truth of scripture. Nor do they integrate fully with the rest of the book.
The writers quote from D. F. Wells’ writings. These include, No Place for Truth – Whatever happened to Evangelical Theology? (published by Eerdmans/IVP: 1993), a coherently argued book which places current issues in a historical context. It does not deal with evangelism specifically, but overall has more to offer a reader. This book may be useful to readers wanting to consider evangelical trends in the USA so that, forewarned, they can help untaught believers susceptible to false teaching.
[Our thanks to Bryan Charles, Appledore, Devon, UK, for this review]
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