I have enjoyed many books by David F. Wells, so I was looking forward to reading God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World. It is Book #2 on my Summer Reading list. He starts in the first chapter entitled ‘God Our Vision, Culture Our Context’ by focusing on Scripture: “The shaping of our life is to come from Scripture and not from culture. We are to those in whom truth is the internal driver and worldly horizons and baits are not. It is always sola Scripture and it should never be sola cultura, as Os Guinness puts it. This is a two-sided practice: “Yes” to biblical truth and “No” to cultural norms if they damage our walk with God and rob us of what He has for us in his Word. Being transformed also means being unconformed.” (p.17)
This set the course for this book. So often in 21st century America, Christians let the culture shape their lives. There are many who proclaim this viewpoint from the pulpit, on their blogs, in books,and on twitter and in Facebook comments. We have often lost our message as we are so intertwined with the culture. Our attention has gone in all kinds of directions losing sight of God as Holy-love: “When postmoderns think about life in a psychological framework, they do so from a center in the self… When we think about life within the moral framework that Scripture gives us, then we are thinking with God at its center… Christianity uniquely combines love and holiness because in God’s character they are, and always have been combined.” (p. 34)
We are so distracted by the struggles of this world. Wells states that “Withdrawal and ordering are the two keys to attention – being able to withdraw from the alternatives and focus the mind on something that we have isolated.” (p. 37)
What do we focus on? God’s truth. Wells starts with the Gospel. He explains the Gospel looking at Grace, Faith, Jesus Christ: His Love, His Holiness, the Incarnation and the Cross. He takes these well-known truths and explains them using God’s Word. There are things that have not changed “the cause of our acceptance before God, – it is grace, nor does the instrument of our acceptance change… it is faith, and the ground of our acceptance is also unchanged – it is Christ.” (p. 43) “The difference is that in the Old Testament, God’s loving-kindness was invisible, in the incarnation, though, his grace and truth were made visible in the person of Christ.” (p. 45) Wells then takes us through Israel’s history showing how “Christ was recapitulating himself, becoming all they had never been.” (p. 68)
How then do we walk with God? Wells looks at Justification and Reconciliation, followed by Worship. The answer is found in God’s holy-love. “We misconstrue the nature of God if we imagine that the cross was the resolution of competing and conflicting attributes, his holiness and his love.”(p. 155) It is God’s holy-love who crushed our sin on the cross and “in Christ vanquished all that has fractured and broken in our world” (p.156)
In his section on worship, Wells addresses modern evangelicalism and some trends such as the worship wars. Are we focusing on God or on our experience? Is it Christ-centered or based on my needs? Wells thinks we are so focused on the forms that we are overlooking things about the content. “Worship loses its authenticity when it becomes more about the worshiper than about the God who is being worshiped.” (p. 202) Recently in a conversation, a middle-aged woman was expressing her views on worship and it was all about her. She wanted music that made her feel good. The music was much more important than the preaching of the Word. I wish I could say this is an isolated case but I have heard this opinion many times. People are less concerned about the preaching. “From biblical sermons we have moved to inspirational, how-to-do-it, therapeutically driven talks” (p. 215)
We wonder why Christians are not as knowledgeable of the Bible. In this modern world, evangelism has watered down the Gospel and with its shallow theology has lost its voice, its influence. Wells urges the church to remember who God is and the powerful message we as the church have to proclaim. I urge Christians to read this book and hear these great truths of the Gospel.
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