If you have attempted to read through books like the series David Wells wrote (No Place for Truth, God in the Wasteland, Losing Our Virtue, and Above All Earthly Pow'rs), but found them cumbersome and difficult, a shorter and easier-to-read option is Gary Gilley's two works This Little Church Went to Market and This Little Church Stayed Home. The second of these two is what this reviewer has recently completed. Gilley has subtitled this book, A Faithful Church In Deceptive Times. Good choice. Let me say at the outset that both books should be read. They will open your eyes. While not as in-depth and thorough as the work Wells has done, the audience Gilley will speak most effectively to is the average lay person, not the scholar or professional minister who is more the target of Wells. That being said, many pastors who have been caught up in "fad Christianity" would benefit from This Little Church Stayed Home.
This Little Church has four sections dividing up fifteen chapters. Section 1 (chapters 1-5) explains postmodernism and how this philosophical outlook has impacted the church's view on propositional truth. Section II (chapters 6-8) deals with the church's responsibility to build up the body of Christ, giving attention to biblical church growth. Section III (chapters 9-11) has to do with the Bible, specifically, and how that is currently being misused and misinterpreted by some in order to push their distorted concepts of the gospel. Section IV (chapters 12-15) explains current challenges to the church: mysticism and the Emergent Church. There is more to these chapters than I have touched on, but these descriptions are only broad summaries.
Not enough good things could be said about This Little Church. Gilley takes on the dangers of the current fad of mysticism sweeping through the church, and calls the Emergent Church movement what it is: false teaching. Most commendable is his absence of fear in naming some of the biggest names in evangelicalism (and some not so big) in an effort to warn the church of heretical teaching. Some examples include Robert Schuller (p. 74), a poster boy for false teaching, Rick Warren (pp. 89-100), Dallas Willard and Richard Foster (p. 117), Karen Mains, wife of radio teacher, David Mains (pp. 137-38), David Seamand, who has appeared on Focus on the Family with James Dobson (pp. 138-39), Greg Boyd (p. 139), and George Barna (pp. 174-78). Other names are mentioned as well, but are not as readily recognizable. I wish there were more Christian leaders like Gilley who had the backbone to say what needs to be said and point out who specifically has strayed away from orthodoxy. Leaders are so often afraid to do this for fear of being accused of being judgmental, that they cower away from carrying out their God-given responsibility. Examples of this in Scripture include 1 Timothy 1:20, 3 John 9, and 2 Timothy 2:17, where Paul compares the influence of Hymenaeus and Philetus to the spreading of gangrene.
An example of his straightforward style is found in this quote: "Celebration of Discipline alone, not even referencing [Richard] Foster's other writings and teachings and ministries, is a virtual encyclopedia of theological error. We would be hard pressed to find in one so-called evangelical volume such a composite of false teaching" (p. 119). Bold and accurate! Other examples are found when he confronts Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Church and The Purpose-Driven Life: "Both, for instance, offer some good sound advice, helpful biblical insight and practical suggestions---and both are riddled with errors throughout" (p. 89); "In Warren's gospel presentations no mention is made of sin, repentance or even the Cross" (p. 90); "I found forty-two biblical inaccuracies, eighteen out-of-context passages of Scripture, supposedly used to prove his point, and another nine distorted translations" (p. 91). In the chapter in which these quotes are found, Gilley has a subsection entitled "Torturing Scripture," where he lists ten specific examples where Warren has clearly misrepresented the Bible.
This is a great read for any Christian who wants to understand some of the modern winds currently blowing through the church. It would be highly profitable to use this book for a Sunday School class or mid-week group discussion. Buy it, read it, pass it on. – Ray Hammond, Christian Book Previews.com
Many churches, riding the faddish waves of our times, have gone ‘to market’, but not all. Some churches are trying to ‘stay home’, that is, remain firmly grounded in the Scriptures. Still, the pressures mount, the temptations are repackaged, and the schemes of the world become more and more persuasive.
In This Little Church Stayed Home, Dr Gilley explores the manifold temptations of conservative churches to sell out to modern trends and innovations, including the present temptation towards mystical theology. Churches toying with ‘new measures’ will be challenged to remain true to the historic doctrines of the Christian faith and to remain faithful to God’s chosen means of converting sinners to himself: the good news of Jesus Christ.
Pastors, seminary students, church leaders and Christians who want God’s Word to be paramount in their lives will find This Little Church Stayed Home a timely message to a Christian subculture fixated on marketing the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ