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The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  625 ratings  ·  77 reviews
“It takes no courage to sign up as a Protestant.” These words begin this bold new work -- the culmination of David Wells's long-standing critique of the evangelical landscape. But to live as a true Protestant -- well, that's another matter.

This book is a jeremiad against “new” versions of evangelicalism -- marketers and emergents -- and a summons to return to the historic
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Eerdmans (first published January 1st 2008)
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Douglas Wilson
Jan 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
A fitting contribution to Wells' ongoing demolition of the pretensions of contemporary evangelicalism.
Peter LeDuc
Jul 13, 2020 rated it liked it
A thoughtful critique of how we do church in our (post)modern society and a call to return to a simple, ordinary dependence on God and His Word in our worship, mission, and message.
Peter Jones
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I began at the end of Wells' five volume set on American evangelicals. The book was superb, though dated in a few places. I expected to read this book and find a critique of all those folks "out there." But instead I was convicted of how many areas I have bought into postmodern thinking. My desire for comfort, ease, the enthronement of self, and my too low view of sin all became clearer as I read the book. As the Stones say, "You can't always get what you want but if you try sometimes well you m ...more
David Westerfield
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In The Courage to be Protestant, David Wells notes there are three major groups splintering within the evangelical church now that threaten the entire movement's original cause (though one of them is remaining faithful and seeks to preserve it). There are smaller groups that are splintering of course, but the focus is on the three major movements. The word "evangelicalism" is rooted in the word "evangel" which means Gospel. This was the fundamental basis upon which the phrase "evangelical" came ...more
Jake Moore
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
David wells provides a excellent insight into how marketing, post modernism, and Americanism has impacted the western church. While this books was written about 10 years ago it still speaks volume today on seeker friendly and emergent churches. Wells is reformed and you can see it when he gets into more theological topics, like God’s sovereignty which is the part i enjoyed least. I still highly recommend this book to anyone, especially who are going into ministry as a career.
Justin Daniel
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'll begin this by saying, this is by far one of the best books I have ever read. I have, for awhile now, contemplated the misdirection of the American Evangelical movement. We are a culture that is obsessed with self: Jesus came to die for MY sins; God wants ME to be happy, healthy, and wealthy now etc. But this is all a farce. The concept of the Gospel does not point to man or self, but to God. Not only this, but we have become the most technological civilization there has ever been at any poi ...more
The book helpfully charts the splintering of evangelicalism into truth-lovers, marketers, and Emergents. The author suggests that much of our loss of voice today has to do with the fact that we have become sola scriptura in profession only, but in reality we have become sola cultura. The magnificent world that humanity has built today is ironically a place that is inhospitable to the human soul. And unfortunately, the church, instead of calling, men and women forth out of that culture, has inste ...more
Colin Buchanan
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Gold. Insightful and biblical, winsome and vital - very much a book for Christian leaders and thinkers (and churchgoers) to challenge the cultural defaults of consumerism, pragmatism and therapeutic-ism (!) and to do the hard work that's needed to see where we need to reclaim the biblical distinctives that ought to form the foundation for what church and worship and a Christian worldview are as well as what they spawn. Challenging, inspiring and a great book to share and discuss. Plus if you rea ...more
Todd Miles
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wells has done it again with his clarion call to the Church to avoid being captured by the spirit of the age. Most importantly, he demonstrates effectively that both the Mega-churches guided by marketing and the emerging churches, guided by their values are all capitulating to the culture, rather than steadfastly clinging to the gospel. This is a powerful book and a must-read for any and all in church leadership.
James Ruley
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This helpful work by David Wells discusses the development of modern evangelicals. He discusses three groups: the traditional evangelicals, the marketers, and the emergents. After explaining the worldview embraced by each group, and the techniques they follow, he discusses how a proper understanding of God, Christ, self, sin, and the church should drive us away from man-centered methodology for growing the church.
Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
A great summary of the previous 4 books Wells has written on culture. I think "Above All Earthly Pow'rs" is his best, and since it was such a paradigm shifting book for me, I confess that I didn't find the same passion in this volume than AAEP. Still, Wells is a great writer and The Courage to be Protestant is a great condensed version of his thought.
Kevin Summers
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
Sample quote: "My conclusion is that absolute truth and morality are fast receding in society because their grounding in God as objective, as outside of ourself, as our transcendent point of reference, is disappearing." [my transcription of the audiobook]

I have listened to the audiobook version of this book two times. I appreciated this book significantly more during my second listen.
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely one of the top books this year.
Todd Stockslager
Jul 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: spiritual
Review title: From freedom to courage

Capping off a series that started with J. Gresham Machen's Christianity and Liberalism from the 1920s and Karl Barth's The Humanity of God from the 1950s is this survey by Wells of his last four books on modern Protestant theology in the "postmodern" world of the 21st century. The decline in the Christian doctrinal maturity of both churches and believers is so sharp and sudden since Machen and Barth that a theologian of orthodox Christianity like Wells is no
Jonathan Klimek
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Wells in his book, The Courage to Be Protestant highlights the history and present state of evangelicalism and then exhorts the Pastor to return to the historic and doctrinally sound Solas of the Reformation, especially Sola Scriptura in contrast to Sola Cultura—showing that God’s Word is often in sharp antithesis to what is regarded as “normal” in today’s culture (p. 4). He explains that postmodernism, individualism and liberalism has resulted in a diminished interest in the Word of God i ...more
Randy Corn
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book because David Wells had been invited to be the speaker at the annual Leadership Conference. He was to address many of the themes within the book and so I decided not only to attend the conference, but to read the book and really enter into the meat of what was being discussed. I have to say that while I enjoyed the lectures, I was not as enthralled with the book as I had hoped I would be.

This book is something a distillation of Wells earlier books. They are all commentary o
Mitch Bedzyk
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After outlining the history and the present state of evangelicalism, David Wells presents a solid and biblical case for the church retrieving the historic and doctrinally sound faith of the Reformation (i.e. the five Solas) for our present, postmodern, highly individualistic culture. He issues a clarion call for the evangelical church to return to "sola scriptura" (Scripture alone) and abandon its allegiance to "sola cultura" (culture alone).

I wish I knew about David Wells' and his work when thi
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good read - very thought provoking. Wells does a good job of laying out the arguments, from a Biblical perspective, how individuals and the modern church have succumbed (mostly) to the pressures of postmodern and emergent thinking...and how these "belief" systems have systematically undermined and confused the original purpose of the Church (Acts church). As such, Wells lays out the argument - or more like a pleading - for the Church to return its Reformation roots and remember on whom (Christ) ...more
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wells gets straight to the point in his opening: “It takes no courage to sign up as a Protestant…To live by the truths of historic Protestantism, however, is an entirely different matter. That takes courage in today’s context.” The truths that Protestants have lived and died by have somehow become no more welcome within many Protestant churches today than in the outside, non-Christian culture. As Wells argues, those today who would seek to live by the distinctives of the theology of the Bible mu ...more
Lee Button
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
David Wells writes about evangelical church culture with the passion of a prophet and the understanding of a sociologist. He validates his claim that evangelicalism (is) infested by the culture in which it lives. p 8 The following pages describe the effects of this infestation and prescribe Gospel-centered solutions. Truth is lost in creative worship. Chapter 5, worth the price of the book, diagnosis culture's worship of self and it's move into the church. He closes with a reminder of God's Sove ...more
Oct 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really appreciated Wells' understanding of evangelicals and the history and culture of the movement. I've long disliked the term "evangelical," but it had its place for a time. And understanding the Christian culture that many of my friends and I have grown up in has shed light on some of the vast differences that now exist within the evangelical world, as well as how and why it came to be that way. I did find the book to be a tad repetitive towards the end. It won't keep me from reading more We ...more
Richard Minor
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book, like much of his other works, is a stunning look at the shallowness of American Evangelicals. I found it to be incredibly insightful and very worth the read.

Wells, as he has done before in other works, examines modernity and postmodernity's work on people and upon believers in this culture. Then he argues that Protestant distinctive s are the proper corrective for today's evangelicals.

I couldn't agree with him more.
Kyle Wise
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent excellent excellent!! I loved it!
But it has to be one of the worst titles in history.
I get it after reading it. He has little hope for what is called 'evangelicalism' and is falling back to the reformation, and therefore he's calling us back to historical protestant belief.

While critiquing shallow fluffy faith, he briefly defined solid orthodox faith, which I found very helpful.

Go David Wells!!
Paul Herriott
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
In typical Wells fashion, he calls out the church and challenges Christ followers to acknowledge the idols and gimmicks that we have capitulated to. His two main targets in this book are Marketing and Emergent churches, who have each become sync with the culture of the West to follow after what works. Back to biblical truth he calls, return to the belief that it is God that builds His church, stop watering down Christ and His community.
Lexy Sauve
Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This gave me more patience for understand why and how the modern American mega church got to where it is today. Mainstream Christianity is no longer Protestant and the author explains how, from originally good impulses, this happened. Big takeaway? Denominations and secondary and tertiary issues being explored and talked about is a good and healthy freedom for the church. Sometimes “gospel centrality” can actually harm the health of the church.
Sonja Warner
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
While I don't find Mr. Wells to be the most engaging writer I've found...I very much respect him as a thinker. And this books that explores how our society of "self" has impacted the church and our views of God, church and Christ is well worth the effort!
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great diagnosis of today's postmodern evangelical malady! What is the cure? Going back to our commitment to the gospel! For Dr. Wells' insightful comments, I will definitely give this a second reading.
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theology
Perhaps better titled: "The Courage to Be Conservative Reformed Evangelical". It stimulated a lot of thinking and brought up some fantastic critiques of 21st century (primarily) American evangelical Christianity. This being said, it was a bit dry and pejorative at times.
Kyle Grindberg
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Such a thought-clarifying book for me diagnosing the recent slide of the Evangelical movement.
Jeff Turnbough
Aug 23, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't care at all for this book.
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David F. Wells (PhD, University of Manchester) is the Distinguished Senior Research Professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

In addition to serving as academic dean of its Charlotte campus, Wells has also been a member of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and is involved in ministry in Africa.

He is the author of numerous articles and books, including a series that was initi

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