Perhaps the greatest things about this book, besides it's content and argument, is how the author writes. The author is skilled in verbiage, vocabulary, and set up. Each paragraph opens new insight to the subject at hand. Most books ramble on, this one, however, was a nonstop tour through cultural issues that face the church. This is why I say that there is too much in this one book to take it all in.
As the title entails, Wells' attacks many so-called Protestants in Western Christianity. Such Protestants include the Emerging Church, the Seeker-Sensitive Movement, the Church Growth Movement, marketers, etc. Wells argues that to be an orthodox Protestant today, it takes great courage. Christianity is moving towards these other trends and to return to the Reformed tradition of Church and Christianity is to be left in the dark ages.
But that is precisely what Wells argues. These trends are dangerous and insufficient in meeting the needs of our day. For example, Church Marketing, the Seeker-Sensitive Movement, and others like them led to Biblical ignorance. Church members coming from such movements no less about the Bible than they did before going into them. They offer nothing but shallow, superficial spirituality, rather than hard truth that sanctifies the soul.
Wells' analysis is careful and thoughtful. He manages to pierce through each movement and reveal it's rotten core. After reading his words, one either has to be blind to ignore his warnings, or wise and heed them. Wells' theology is a return to orthodoxy. These movements are dangerous and should be avoided at all cost.
Perhaps my favorite section of the book (though this seems impossible) would be his discussion on the Self and on the Church. I felt that his chapter about the self really nailed our culture. The pursuit of personal happiness and selfishness is destroying our culture. As he writes, "we all became our own therapist" (141). And that is precisely the problem. We think we can fix ourselves. If we follow a 12 step program, as Wells argues, then we can be cured. This takes away the need for the cross or forgiveness, for we are the key to our own demise. As he puts it,
"here is salvation without sin, recovery without a gospel. All of it is, of course, humanism."
And he is exactly right.
I cannot encourage you enough to buy this book, read it, and cherish it. As a young minister, I intend on heeding it's warnings, practice it's suggestions, and impact the culture with the gospel rather than become the culture.
For more on this book, the writers at the Said at Southern website is doing a series of post on this book. To read them, click here.
Also, the Emergents aren't too excited with the book and have responded with their own argument called, "Courage to be Emergent."
Recently, Mohler has added to the conversation with his own review of the book called, "On the Other Hand, Protestant Courage."