The End Of Theology?

No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?by David F. Wells (Eerdmans, 315 pp.; $24.99, hardcover). Reviewed by Roger E. Olson, professor of theology, Bethel College, (St. Paul), and coauthor of 20th-Century Theology (IVP).

With No Place for Truth, Gordon-Conwell seminary professor David Wells joins the swelling ranks of theological seismologists attempting to measure the great evangelical megashift. Or, to switch metaphors, he joins the ranks of pathologists analyzing the various illnesses of American evangelicalism.

There is a strong and noble tradition of leaders calling the evangelical church to account. While these Jeremiahs may not always get all the nuances right, they do focus the church’s light on important areas of concern. In the midseventies, Harold Lindsell diagnosed the evangelical movement as dying the death of a thousand inerrancy qualifications. Then Francis Schaeffer predicted its slide into disaster, and Sojourners’ Jim Wallis called it to conversion. Most recently, Charles Colson has declared its body almost lifeless due to subversion by cultural viruses such as individualism and consumerism. Now David Wells prepares evangelicalism’s obituary. His diagnosis? Evangelicalism has by and large succumbed to the disease of modernity.

Throughout the book, Wells develops and defends two theses. The first is about the nature of “Our Time,” which he labels “modernity,” the chief characteristic of which is the disappearance of belief in truth. What he means is that modernity rejects what Francis Schaeffer called “true Truth,” absolute, objective truth that transcends relative beliefs and values.

This disappearance of truth is the root of all modern evils, Wells argues. Out of ...

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