Warren Cole Smith
Religion, Christian Church, History
"...many of the worst elements of the modern world--materialism, empire building at the expense of community building, and the accumulation of power and money--have become some of the most recognizable attributes of American evangelicalism".
Like Frank Schaeffer (Crazy for God), Warren Cole Smith was part of, and then saw problems with, the evangelical church in today's society.
Unlike Frank, he goes into more detail about it, trying to understand and come to terms with his own revelations and concerns.
After looking at what he calls the 'evangelical myth', the author goes on to examine the great religious movements, primarily in the United States circa 1730-1745, the early 1800s, and post-1945. In doing so, Smith also notes various discrepancies between them all, the rise of conflicting doctrines, and the apparent age-exclusiveness and use of overheads in the modern church.
Smith follows this up with an explanation of the 'growth' mindset of several churches that have been known for it, and the acceptance of what is known as 'sentimentality'--a desire for a world that we would like it to be and not accepting the world as it is in reality.
Next, the author tackles the Christian retail industry, and how there is an "intertwining of personal financial interests with 'ministry' activities". Also included is an examination of the role Christian music has come to play, particularly in the realm of worship services -- the war between traditional hymns and contemporary Christian music. Further, too, the battle between 'Merry Christmas' and 'Happy Holidays'.
The remaining chapters deal with the rise of the parachurch and body-count evangelism; the effect the modern media has had on the church; and then suggestions on how the church might better able get 'back on track'.
Quite frankly, the book comes to terms with areas that have bothered me as a Christian during the past thirty-odd years. I could sense something wrong, but couldn't quite figure out what it was.
This book points out those glaring flaws, not in a vindictive way, but as one who gently tries to correct with love.