Last night I received in my email box the latest article by Dr.Carl Trueman posted at “Reformation21″. Immediately I started reading, as his articles rarely disappoint. With sharp wit and equally sharp Reformed apologetics, Trueman exposes all that’s bad in modern evangelicalism and modern culture today (As you will have noted from my frequent references to his writings.). And, not to my surprise, I discovered another great Trueman piece in this new article.
This time he goes after popular pastor Andy Stanley and his new book. Needless to say, Trueman’s review is sharp and stinging. But it needs to be. And when you read what both of these writers have to say, you will understand why. Below is the first part of the review. Read all of it at the “Ref21″ link above.
For this month’s column, I thought I would offer a few reflections on Andy Stanley’s recent book, Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend. Here’s a classic passage which represents in miniature an entire universe of erroneous thinking.People are far more interested in what works than what’s true. I hate to burst your bubble, but virtually nobody in your church is on a truth quest. Including your spouse. They are on happiness quests. As long as you are dishing out truth with no here’s the difference it will make tacked on the end, you will be perceived as irrelevant by most of the people in your church, student ministry, or home Bible study. You may be spot-on theologically, like the teachers of the law in Jesus’ day, but you will not be perceived as one who teaches with authority. Worse, nobody is going to want to listen to you.Now, that may be discouraging. Especially the fact that you are one of the few who is actually on a quest for truth. And, yes, it is unfortunate that people aren’t more like you in that regard. But that’s the way it is. It’s pointless to resist. If you try, you will end up with a little congregation of truth seekers who consider themselves superior to all the other Christians in the community. But at the end of the day, you won’t make an iota of difference in this world….
With so much promising material, where should one start the critique? Perhaps with the unintended irony of a man warning his readers about feeling superior while at the same time assuring them that he has better insight into the way their spouses and congregations think than they do? Or with the odd way in which he berates his audience for making the mistake of assuming that other people are just like them rather than realizing that they are actually all just like Andy Stanley? Sorry to – as you would put it – ‘burst your bubble’, Andy, but the people I know are not on a happiness quest. I suspect they are not that ambitious: they simply want to find a decent bottle of cognac so that they might temporarily dull the pain of existence with a little touch of old world class. At least, I have always assumed they are just like me.
One might also look at the travesty of scriptural teaching it contains. The problem of the teachers of the law, for example, was not that they were spot on; it was that they were completely wrong. That is why Jesus spent such a lot of time berating them for their errors of interpretation. And as to Jesus playing to people’s expectations of happiness, one wonders why he made such ‘play’ of the havoc which following him would wreak on families, of the need to take up one’s cross, and of the expectation of persecution to come.