The message of this book, Alan Wolfe tells us, is that religion in the United States is being transformed in remarkable ways (p. 3). By that Wolfe means that both traditional American religions (Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism) are changing to accommodate the culture; and that the religions flooding into our borders (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism) are also being transformed as they melt into the American pot. The result is fewer and fewer distinctions between religions, but more importantly, fewer distinctions between religions and the culture.
The vital message of the book for evangelical Christians is that our culture is rapidly defining the church, rather than the church impacting society. The church is becoming a place where people are given what they want in Christian-like wrapping. Or as one Baptist megachurch minister put it, “I take what is worldly, and baptize it” (p. 195).
Wolfe is a remarkable discerner of our times. He sees clearly, as few do, the metamorphosis of the modern church. He identifies its doctrinal downgrade, the airbrushing of sin out of its message, its capitulation to psychology, its insipid worship, its infatuation with entertainment, its biblical illiteracy and its refusal to engage society either intellectually or morally.
What is even more remarkable is the fact that he is a self-confessed unbeliever. Here is a man who does not know Christ, possessing more discernment than the vast majority of evangelical leaders. Hopefully this work will be a wakeup call to at least some. I believe that all Christian leaders would profit by reading The Transformation of American Religion.