During the last 15 years, David Wells has cried out like a voice in the wilderness against the ills of modern evangelicalism. His latest book, The Courage to Be Protestant, conveys the essence of his argument in four preceding books: No Place for Truth (1993), God in the Wasteland (1994), Losing Our Virtue (1998), and Above All Earthly Pow'rs (2005). Wells, the Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, spoke with CT editor at large Collin Hansen about "truth-lovers, marketers, and Emergents in the postmodern world."
Why does it take courage to be a Protestant today?
It takes no courage simply to sign up as a Protestant. But Protestantism at its best has been defined by its understanding of biblical truth, and it is that truth that is at odds with both postmodern assumptions and with the operating assumptions of many in evangelical churches. This is a defining moment. The day is long past when anyone can safely go with the evangelical flow. However, swimming upstream is not easy.
Many voices today say evangelicals don't need renewed focus on orthodoxy. They say these beliefs haven't always led to godly behavior, so we should focus on orthopraxy. So why should we still try to get our doctrine right?
Of course orthodoxy can be dead! No one simply professing orthodox beliefs as the Pharisees did is, on that account, saved from the corruptions of their own hearts. But nor are the pragmatists who now dominate the evangelical world and who, however unknowingly, are substituting "acting" for "being." The problem with business know-how and therapeutic savvy, served up at the core of Christian faith, is that so much of it is saturated with cultural assumptions that ...1