A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance
Carl Trueman doesn’t know how to write a boring sentence. He is insightful, and his essays are consistently stimulating – even when it hurts. In these chapters Trueman addresses an array of issues of fundamental significance. His concern is to preserve the evangelical faith at its best (rather than its often-popular superficiality), and his zeal for it is contagious. In the words of Melvin Tinker,
Dr. Trueman has the wit of a modern day evangelical Chesterton, the prophetic insight of a Francis Schaeffer and the accessibility of a John Stott. This is a book to read and re-read. It is a very much needed “tract for our times.”
Delightful, provocative reading. Highly recommended.
From Trueman’s Introduction
All of the essays and shorter pieces in this volume are drawn from the work I have done over the last five or six years for various evangelical groups in Great Britain and Europe, and they therefore represent something of an eclectic mix, dealing with issues from television to worship. If they have a unity it is perhaps that provided either by my concern to avoid selling out our evangelical birthright to every wind of cultural criticism or trendy new idea that comes our way – I am convinced that Christianity, as an historical religion, needs to listen very carefully to its history in order to build on past strengths and avoid repetition of past mistakes – or by my desire always to provoke readers not only into thinking for themselves but, above all, into having an opinion about things that matter. Too many today sit on the moral and theological fence; too few have any strong opinions about anything. That is why so often theological and ecclesiastical discussion in evangelical circles goes by default, with nobody having clear enough convictions about anything to engage in real discussion. This is not helped, of course, by the increasing tendency in evangelical circles to ape American linguini-spine culture and to regard disagreement with anyone on anything in our allegedly postmodern world as always inherently oppressive. Some evangelicals, indeed, seem to think that the whole point of having a debate is – well, just to have a debate, a conversation, and then to agree to differ as we all sit around having a mutually affirming, self-congratulatory love-fest. I say that such a view is total rubbish. As the late Frankie Howerd would have said, ‘Nay, nay, thrice nay!’ The point of a debate, as Paul so clearly demonstrates time and again in the Book of Acts, is to establish which position is best; and yes, I for one am still so hopelessly in thrall to modernism, as my relativist critics will no doubt allege, as to believe that some positions (e.g., sacrificing my children to Molech) are not as good as others (e.g., bringing them up to love and fear the Lord), no matter where you may be in the world, and no matter to which culture you happen to belong. That is why I write the way I do – love what I say, hate what I say, either are acceptable responses; but please try not to be indifferent to what I say. Indifference, the plague of modern Western culture in general and evangelicalism in particular, is at best the result of intellectual laziness, at worst a sign of moral abdication…. Yet, for all of the lacunae I now see as I reread them, I still basically stand by what these pieces essentially say; and I still think a combination of plain speaking, occasional over-statement, and black humour is the best way to provoke people to think for themselves. It has always served me well in the classroom; I hope it does so here.
Table of Contents
Part One: Evangelical Essays
- Reckoning with the Past in an Anti-Historical Age
- The Undoing of the Reformation?
- Theology and the Church: Divorce or Remarriage?
- The Princeton Trajectory on Scripture: A Clarification and a Proposal
- The Glory of Christ: B. B. Warfield on Jesus of Nazareth
- Is the Finnish Line a New Beginning? A Critical Assessment of the Reading of Luther Offered by the Helsinki Circle
Part Two: Short, Sharp Shocks
- The Importance of Evangelical Beliefs
- What Can Miserable Christians Sing?
- The Marcions Have Landed!
- A Revolutionary Balancing Act Or: Why our theology needs to be a little less biblical
- Boring Ourselves to Life
- Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Big Issue
Postscript: Evangelicalism Through the Looking Glass. A Fairy Tale
Buy the books
The Wages of Spin: Critical Writings on Historical and Contemporary Evangelicalism, by Carl R. Trueman