Enemy Territory, by Andrew Walker (Bristol, 271 pp.; $8.95, paper); Betraying the Gospel, edited by Andrew Walker (Bristol, 271 pp.; $7.95, paper). Reviewed by Stanley Grenz, professor of theology at Carey Hall/Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and the author of Sexual Ethics (Word).

Christians today find themselves in the midst of a battle not only for the eternal souls of individual humans, but for the intellectual soul of the entire human civilization. Because in this conflict they face a common and formidable foe, believers of all denominational stripes—Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox—must close ranks and engage together in the struggle against the Enemy.

In recent years, several organizations have articulated this thesis concerning the contemporary situation and have issued the call for a new coalition of those who affirm the Bible and the creeds of the ancient church. One such group is the C. S. Lewis Centre for the Study of Religion and Modernity.

Under the direction of its founder and director, British sociologist and lay theologian of the Orthodox tradition Andrew Walker, this research organization seeks to continue the work of Lewis in defending the historic Christian faith in the modern world.

Christian Counterattacks

In Enemy Territory Walker pinpoints the nature of the crucial challenge leveled against the church. As the title indicates, the book couches its thesis in terms of spiritual warfare. Our battle, however, is intellectual: the struggle against “modernity,” which has made inroads into the thinking patterns of modern industrial society.

Walker employs the term modernity in a broad sense, including both the ideologies of the modern world and the economic, social, and cultural realities of modern life. This modern world view, it is argued, poses a deadly challenge to the people of God. Christians must regroup their forces and launch a counterattack.

Walker develops his thesis in two sections. The bulk of the book falls under the second. Here the author traces the rise of modernism beginning with the Enlightenment; shows its relationship to the processes of secularization, privatization, and pluralism; and delineates its presence both in contemporary “scientism” and in modern theology. According to Walker, the Christian offensive includes a closing of ranks by believers of various confessional backgrounds, an intellectual assault on theological modernism, and an engagement in “spiritual politics,” as Christians confront the evil powers found in the structures of modern life.

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The author places his delineation of the current battle within the broader spiritual struggle of the ages, “the Great Battle.” He describes this in the shorter first section of the book. Using the patristic theme of Christus Victor—but unfortunately moving well beyond what is warranted by the biblical texts—Walker retells the cosmic drama in terms of the struggle between the fallen Lucifer and the sovereign God. Although Christ won the decisive victory, the Great Battle rages throughout history until the Lord’s return.

Group Therapy

Whereas Territory paints the broad picture of the current situation, Betraying the Gospel focuses on one area—theology—that has fallen prey to the inroads of modernity.

After the introduction, in which Walker covers some of the ground of the other volume, four elder churchmen reflecting four British church traditions—Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh (Orthodox), Bishop Lesslie Newbigin (United Reformed), Thomas F. Torrance (Church of Scotland), and Cardinal Leon-Joseph Suenens (Roman Catholic)—comment in interview style on the state of Christianity today. All agree that the church has not risen to the challenge posed by the Enlightenment and modernity.

The remainder of the volume consists of 11 theological essays. These provide the most useful contribution of the two volumes. Seven articles focus on theological concerns, including the Resurrection, the Trinity, miracles, and biblical interpretation. The final four, dealing with such issues as liberation theology and religious pluralism, show that modernism has implications beyond academic theology.

For these essays, Walker has brought together an impressive array of authors representing different parts of the world, academic disciplines, and Christian traditions. Some of them, such as Alister McGrath, James Dunn, and Colin Gunton, are no strangers to evangelicals. Others, including Alasdair Heron, Alan Torrance, and Peter Berger, represent broader yet basically conservative theological orientations.

Most of the essays are balanced, helpful, and written at a level the nontechnically trained reader can understand. Together they canvass a wide diversity of interests.

Among the more creative offerings is Thomas Smail’s insightful treatment of the doctrine of the Trinity, which, by emphasizing the interdependency of the Son and the Spirit, seeks to carve out a middle way between the East and the West. Heron’s handling of C. S. Lewis’s criticisms of modern biblical exegesis is a welcome inclusion, given the intent of the center to carry on the legacy of its namesake. And Gavin D’Costa’s criticism of the pluralism current in certain theological circles is especially important in view of the relativism that often accompanies the interreligious dialogue they foster.

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The Ecumenical Imperative

Apart from the various issues raised by the essays, these two books present North American evangelicals with several engaging theses.

First, the authors attempt to articulate a theology that is biblical and conservative, while avoiding being fundamentalist.

Second, Walker calls believers to include social concern and political action within their horizon, but seeks to deflect any charge of being sympathetic to liberation theology.

Third, all the authors acknowledge biblical authority, but they reject the literalistic approach to biblical interpretation and the shibboleths, such as “inerrancy,” so characteristic of evangelicalism.

Fourth, although they acknowledge that it has brought grave dangers to Christian faith, the authors are in agreement that we simply cannot go back behind the Enlightenment.

Fifth, in contrast to many evangelicals, Walker and others refuse to dismiss Karl Barth as a subjectivist and a modernist, choosing instead to view him as an ally in the struggle against modernism.

But the most significant thesis is ecclesiological. Lying behind the program of the C. S. Lewis Centre is the conviction that the real divide in the church is not among denominations but “between orthodox Christians who accept the biblical revelation and the truths of the ancient creeds and those who do not.” Modernity does not merely attack specific denominations, but rather undercuts the very bedrock of Christianity in its entirety. For this reason, modernism confronts believers of all traditions, despite their differences, and so it is imperative for all true Christians to close ranks.

For many evangelicals this will be a difficult task to accept. During the twentieth century their common abhorrence for modernist inroads into the mainline denominations gave birth to a coalition of conservative Protestants. Yet evangelicals shared one additional point. Because they all claimed to be heirs of the Reformation, they inherited the sixteenth-century struggle against the Roman Catholic Church.

Now Walker and others are advocating that the circle of cooperation be expanded to include Catholics, as well as adherents of Eastern Orthodoxy, from which Western Christians have been separated since the twelfth century.

Whether evangelicals are prepared to join in a coalition this broad remains an open question that perhaps only the twenty-first century will answer. For Walker and his friends, only such a widening of the circle will allow believers to struggle successfully against the one who is their ultimate and common Enemy.

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