Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Dining With the Devil: The Megachurch Movement Flirts
with Modernity
by Os Guinness is the first book I've
read by Guinness. I would like to read a more recent
book by him.

Dining With the Devil was published in 1993. That is
not so long ago. It is an interesting commentary on
the way we view the world's progress that 14 years would
seem almost an eternity in terms of change and modernization.

14 years ago we had only been in Mayberry for 1-2 years. We
moved to a small country church and away from one that was
not yet a megachurch, but which was well on the way. It has
now arrived. Almost every time I go to The Big City I pass
the main campus of the church we attended up there.

It is difficult to squash into a few words the ideas that
Dining With the Devil puts forth. I underlined and astericized
so much of it that I may as well just reproduce the whole
thing. Since I can't do that, I'll try to give the main

Guinness says that the managing, marketing, psychology and
means of communication that are used by the modern church,
especially the modern megachurch, can be useful, but that it
is definitely a case of buyer beware. It is quite possible
that the world will be won to the church, and that in the
meantime the soul of the church will be lost.

His main position is that faith is losing authority in
both the life of the church and the individual believer.
On page 18 he states the crux of the matter. "What
people believe no longer makes much difference to how
they behave."

His development of this idea, beginning with mourning the
loss of the importance of the written word in society and
moving through to questions that should be asked if we,
as Christians, are to be truly discerning, is the meat of
the book.

Guinness does not write for the casual reader. It takes
work to read a book like this, but it is definitely worth
the brain energy put forth. Following is one of the many
paragraphs that I underlined in this book. (P.27)

"...The second common deficiency is that the church-
growth movement--true to its American evangelical
parentage--displays a minimal sense of historical
....Two periods, for example, would give
fruitful parallels: the late eighteenth century
and the story of European liberalism's engagement
with the 'cultured despisers,' and the early
nineteenth century and the story of American
evangelicalism's fateful seachange during the
era of Jacksonian populism. This early nineteenth-
century change is a particularly important precedent
because it was not so much from Calvinism to
Arminianism as from theology to experience, from
truth to technique, from elites to populism, and
from an emphasis on 'serving God' to an emphasis on
'servicing the self' in serving God.

1 comment:

Charity Grace said...

I stumbled on your blog from Large Family Mothering. I found your review interesting, especially because Os Guiness is on my "authors to read" list. I'll have to see which of his books are at my local library.