The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal
Charles R. Swindoll
The Church Awakening is born out of Swindoll’s grim assessment of the contemporary church: it has “eroded” to a watered-down, politically correct social club ravaged by postmodernity and consequently ineffective. This erosion has caused the U.S. to shift from a “Christian era” to a “post-Christian era,” to the detriment of both church and nation.
Swindoll’s purpose is to wake the church from its dogmatic slumber and realize the “savage war” raging against it. Thus, the majority of his book outlines dangers the church has unwittingly ignored. Interspersed are some practical Scriptural principles he believes will bring “awakening.”
There is a tone of panic in Swindoll’s writing; he believes the church is in shambles. He follows the fear-driven media’s example by painting a bleak picture of the church and its future if it retains its current trajectory. As he looks at Christianity’s loss of social influence in the last few decades, he betrays that he is as concerned with getting Christian values back to a place of prominence in American culture as with “awakening the church.”
Underlying Swindoll’s subtle dual agenda is a deep theological concern for the “preaching of objective truth.” He believes that this will “restore” the church back to where it “used to be.” Thus, he has no use for any “postmodern” attempts to “do church” and he openly critiques churches for trying to incorporate “artistic, seeker-friendly” methods into their worship styles. Unfortunately, thinly veiled behind his open disdain for anything postmodern is a clear misunderstanding of what postmodernity actually means, both philosophically and socially.
The book’s helpful guidance on Christian charity is outweighed by the author’s position of perpetual defensiveness and conservation ultimately aimed at getting Christianity back into a role of cultural prominence. Instead of a positive vision of God’s work in the world today, we are asked to “go back to the past, drive a stake into the ground and make sure we do not drift anywhere.” Consequently, I hesitate to recommend this book.