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Spiritual Gravitas

I really enjoying reading David Wells’ books (the theologian, that is, not the pitcher). His four (or five) volume series that began with No Place for Truth and ended with Above All Earthly Pow’rs (or The Courage To Be Protestant) is a modern day classic. There is lots of great content to mine from them.

Here is something he wrote in Above All Earthly Pow’rs. He reflected on the events of September 11 and the church’s apparent inability to respond in a way that was adequate. These are words worth pondering. I find that I return to them often.

This moment of tragedy and evil shone its own light on the Church and what we came to see was not a happy sight. For what has become conspicuous by its scarcity, and not least in the evangelical corner of it, is a spiritual gravitas, one which could match the depth of horrendous evil and address issues of such seriousness. Evangelicalism, now much absorbed by the arts and tricks of marketing, is simply not very serious anymore.

No sooner did I post this than I thought of another quote that is equally good (and very closely associated). This one is from The Courage To Be Protestant.

This co-opting of showbiz, this transformation of Christianity into entertainment, is rapidly becoming the norm today, not the exception. Pastor are straining to outdo each other in becoming as chic and slick as any show in Las Vegas.

I pity satirists who might be tempted to try to tweak these segments of the evangelical world. Theirs is a mission impossible. It can no longer be done. No matter how indelicately they might exaggerate, no matter how much they might embellish to make a point, no matter how many descriptions they might offer of the tasteless things that are happening, it will most likely be met with only a yawn and a bored question: “So … ?” Nothing seems improbable. None of it, in fact, ever seems exaggerated and none of it seems improper. It has now become impossible to insult some evangelicals. How the Wittenburg Door stays in business, I do not know.


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