The Biblio-Files

bib·li·o·phile (bĭb'lē-ə-fīl') n.

1. A lover of books.
2. A collector of books.


The Courage to Be Protestant: Quotes

I finished reading David Wells' The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth lovers, Maketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World.

Check out my thoughts on the book at my blog, here.

Check out Albert Mohler's interview with David Wells about this book, here.

Because I have written elsewhere about this book, I am just going to give you the chapter titles along with some quotes from each.

Chapter 1: The Lay of the Evangelical Land

"Nevertheless, it is the question that should be raised again and again, not matter how little sense it makes. What is the binding authority on the church? What determines how ti things, what it wants, and how it is going to go about its business? Will it be Scripture along, Scripture understood as God's binding address, or will it be culture? Will it be what is current, edgy, and with-it? Or will it be God's Word, which is always contemporary because its truth endures for all eternity?" (4)

In reference to Market-driven churches:

"What results, all too often, beneath all the smiling crowds, the packed auditoria, is a faith so cramped, limited, and minuscule as to be entirely unable to command our life, our energies, or, as a matter of fact, even much of our attention" (14).

In reference to Emergents:

"Emergents are doctrinal minimalists. . . . By their very posture they are resistant to doctrinal structure that would contain and restrict them. . . . They are not eager to engage (post)modernity critically. Indeed, they are as much submerged beneath it as they are emerging from it. Rather than distancing themselves from their own cultural world because they have been impelled to do so by Christian truth, they are more intent on simply huddling with fellow human sufferers. They may be willing to critique society for its social ills, but they are reserved about making judgements on private behavior such as homosexuality. What is emerging is clearly a rather different attitude about evangelical faith and practice that was seen before. We did however, see these same attitudes in older Protestant liberalism" (17).

Chapter 2: Christianity for Sale

"The evangelical church, or at least a good slice of it, is nervous, twitchy, and touchy about consumer desire, ready to change in a nanosecond at the slightest hint that tastes and interests have changed. Why? Because consumer appetite reigns. . . . Those who attend churches are now like any other customers you might meet in the mall. Displease them in any way and they will take their business elsewhere. That is the fear that lurks in many a church leader's soul because they know that is how the market place works" (36).

"The gospel cannot be a product that the church sells because there are no consumers for it. When we find consumers, we will find that what they are interested in buying, on their own terms, is not the gospel" (53).

Chapter 3: Truth

"So it is in American evangelicalism today. Far too many leaders and churches are out for the quick kill, in instant success, the enviable limelight, the flattering numbers, the bulging auditoria, the numbers to be boasted about--"my church went from ten to ten thousand once I arrived!"--the filled parking lots, the success story all dolled up for the pages of Christianity Today or Leadership. All of this is about the short-term success interest of the pastor(s), not the long-term health of the church. In Christianity, cut-rate products bring a cut-rate future" (92).

"A soft, shapeless Christianity ready to adapt to any worldview may enjoy initial success, but it will soon be overtaken and lose its interest" (94).

Chapter 4: God

"It is important to remember that culture does not give the church its agenda. All it gives the church is its context. The church's belief and mission come from the Word of God. they do not come from the culture either through attraction to it on in alienation from it. It is not the culture that determines the church's priorities. It is not the (post)modern culture that should be telling it what to think. The principle here is sola Scriptura, not sola cultura" (98).

Chapter 5: Self

"Quite a few public schools have banned competitive games because they dent the self-esteem of those who do not win" (139). For my Angelo State kinesiology peeps, does this ring a bell of any one kinese prof who hated dodge ball?

"Today . . . we are less interested in a potential employee's character than we are in his or her competence. In a complex, highly competitive, technological, bottom-line-driven world, competence trumps character. Character is nice but competence is profitable" (145).

"The result of this shift is that today people engage in selling themselves. Personalities are marketable commodities but character is not" (148).

"This has carried over into some of our marketing mega churches and more generally into how churches look at their pastors. Especially in mega churches of the seeker-sensitive kind, the pastor is preeminently a personality on the big screen up front, a performer, who seems close to everyone in the church but in fact is quite remote in most cases" (150).

Chapter 6: Christ

"Whatever merit there is in stressing that postmoderns place great premium on images, on imagination, in relationships, on being part of a community, not of these things can substitute for the fact that the church has to proclaim the truth about Christ" (203).

Chapter 7: Church

"Evangelicalism's inherently para nature asserted itself so that is increasingly became parachurch to the point where the local church, in biblical terms, became increasingly irrelevant. Once these things began to happen, I believe, evangelicalism was on its way to decline" (210).

"Evangelicalism has often become an enterprise separate from the life of the church. Indeed, among the marketers the separation is deliberate and visual. The services have been entirely emancipated from anything and everything "churchy." No pews, no crosses, no collections, no hymns, no pulpit, no sermon--nothing that will in any way lead an unbeliever into thinking that he or she has entered a church" (214).

"Those in a church are unlike other people in their culture because they are hearing, in their church, a World from outside this world. . . . In the church are those who belong to another world. . . . Churches that want to influence their culture are so often tempted to think that to be effective the must hide their otherworldliness and become slickly this-worldly. . . . Churches that actually do influence the culture--here is the paradox--distance themselves from it in their internal life. The do not offer what can already be had on secular terms in the culture" (224).

"However, if the church is going to be truly successful, it must be unlike anything else we find in life. As a result, it will undoubtedly make enemies. It will have enemies, even if they are merely voices in the culture whose intent is to secure ways of life that are antithetical to Christian faith. If the church ever becomes just like anything else we can find in life--as many born-again churches have become--then we can have it without God's truth or grace and without cost. Indeed, we can have it on our own terms" (224).

I know.
Send me your thoughts!!!



Blake White said...


Dag. Prophetic is the adjective. The quote about emergents being submerged rather than emerging from Pomo is on point. Also, the pastor who seems close but is really distant. Also, ....well I'll stop.


Eron said...


Thanks for the comments. I think all the quotes on the church are my favs.

The one quote under the Self chapter about marketing personalities is cash. There are some folks I had in mind when I read that section--the same ones you are probably thinking of now!


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