Above All Earthly Pow’rs by David F. Wells
Above All Earthly Pow’rs is the fourth and final volume in a series that includes No Place for Truth, God in the Wasteland and Losing Our Virtue. Each of these books deals with a theological issue in light of the times. Above All Earthly Pow’rs follows the same format, this time addressing Christology and how it “is to be preached, in a postmodern, multiethnic, multireligious society” (pp. 7-8).
As in the earlier works, Wells ably sounds the alarm, warning of the inward seeds of destruction now present in evangelicalism. He deals with relevant issues as diverse as the Enlightenment, psychotherapy, immigration, the new spirituality, nihilism, postmodernity, the resurrection of Christ, self-help programs, debates over substitionary atonement, justification, open theism, the seeker-sensitive church growth movement, and more.
All of these issues are examined in light of what Christology has become in a postmodern world and what must be done to re-establish Christology’s biblical understanding and role.
This is a vital book written by a careful, thoughtful theologian and scholar. I believe that, along with the first three books in the series, Above all Earthly Pow’rs is a must read for pastors, theologians and church leaders who want to render biblical guidance to the people of God in the twenty-first century. There are, however, a few minor drawbacks/disappointments with the book:
1. It is not an easy read and will require perseverance, time and careful attention.
2. Wells quotes from some dubious sources; e.g. Lesslie Newbigin, N. T. Wright, Bultman, Bonhoeffer, etc. While he is careful to note that he does not endorse all that these men teach, one has to wonder why he gives credence to these men at all.
3. He does not address in any detail the emergent church movement. He does give copious analysis of the seeker-sensitive movement, but the true postmodern expression of the church is the emerging “conversation.” It would have been most enlightening to read Well’s analysis of that movement.