Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Courage to Be Protestant

The argument that David Wells makes in his book—The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World—comes, as you might expect, in the first paragraph of chapter 1 on page 1. And it is this:
It takes no courage to sign up as a Protestant. After all, millions have done so throughout the West. They are not in any peril. To live by the truths of historic Protestantism, however, is an entirely different matter. That takes courage in today's context.
But he also adds what might not be expected in the second paragraph:
But it [the argument] needs to be made not only with postmodern culture in mind but also with contemporary evangelicalism in mind. The truths of historic Protestantism are sometimes no more welcome in evangelicalism than they are in the outside culture. 
To my great dismay, I have found this to be true in my experience of modern American evangelicalism. And it has astonished me that so-called Protestants have been so ready to dispense with Protestantism.

Wells speaks to the what and how and why of all of this as well as anyone. And so I heartily commend the close reading of absolutely anything and everything he has written on this topic and on culture generally.

But be prepared: you just might have to gain a good deal of courage to soldier on if you become persuaded that he is correct in his assessment. And I'm afraid that all too many, not least among evangelical leadership, are unwilling to count the cost and embrace that cross. For that cross puts you out of step not only with the general cultural milieu but also with your own contemporary evangelical context. And the suffering and loss that come, in a variety of ways, with being out of step with much of evangelicalism are not easy to embrace.

Small wonder, then, that Wells speaks of the need for courage. And he is not alone in saying that courage is the "the need of the hour."

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