James Hamilton, Professor of Biblical Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writing on The Greatest Danger Facing the Church:
The greatest danger facing the church is probably not what most of us expect. We expect some sort of direct challenge from without, but it probably comes from within. In our day, it may well come from well-meaning pastors.
How could well-meaning pastors pose the greatest threat to evangelical churches today? Do they deny the truth?
No, the pastors who pose the greatest threat to the church today will confess belief in the right things. They will confess the authority and inerrancy of the Bible, that Jesus saves, and that he is the only way of salvation.
So how can these guys who mean well and make the good confession pose such a threat to the church?
They are a threat because, in spite of their confession, their words and actions treat Christianity as nothing more than the best form of therapy. They treat it as self-help. They treat it as the path to better marriages, better parent-child relationships, better attitudes and performance at work, and on and on.
Speaking of C.S. Lewis, although his theology was in places deeply problematic, he was nevertheless quite brilliant. His essay, On the Reading of Old Books, would, if taken to heart by western believers, do much to counter the church growth Innovation Cult that blights so much of today’s visible church.
Originally written as an introduction to an English translation of Athanasius’ On the Incarnation, Lewis’ short essay has been much reproduced. It is worth your time, and you can read it here.
Robert Tracy McKenzie, professor and chair of the Department of History at Wheaton College, writing in his review of Mark Noll’s From Every Tribe and Nation: A Historian’s Discovery of the Global Christian Story:
So by what path did God lead him [Noll] to a deeper, more vital faith? To quote a famous essay by C. S. Lewis, it was through “the reading of old books.” American evangelicals, like modern Americans generally, are “stranded in the present,” to quote a haunting phrase by Christian historian Margaret Bendroth. … We cut ourselves off from the vast majority of all the Christians who have ever lived, implicitly assuming that we have nothing to learn from those who have gone before us. You can see this “chronological snobbery” on display in almost any commercial Christian bookstore. The shelves will bulge with the latest hastily written book from the pulpit celebrity of the moment, but good luck finding anything dating to the first nineteen centuries of Christian history.
Danger comes with such tunnel vision. As Lewis understood, contemporary books mainly reinforce what we will already believe—including what we wrongly believe. They cast light where we already see and deepen the darkness where we are unwittingly blind. The only antidote, Lewis maintained, “is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books.”