In a new interview with Crossway, David Wells talks about his new book, God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-Love of God Reorients Our World. I recommend reading it to get a good feel for his book and what he’s seeking to accomplish.
It may help to put the book in context of his previous works.
Kevin Vanhoozer refers to David Wells’ magnum opus as “Courage Quintet.” By this he is referring to his four-volume work, plus a summary and update volume) published by Eerdmans from 1993-2008.
Although it is not widely recognized as such, Wells conceived of this series of volumes as an unconventional setting forth of theology:
1. Prolegomena to culture, so that our theology isn’t swallowed up by it: No Place for Truth, or, Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? (1993)
2. The doctrine of God: God in the Wasteland: Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams (1994)
3. The human being as created and fallen: Losing Our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision (1998)
4. The person and work of Christ: Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World (2006)
This was summed up, then, in his last published book, The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Post-Modern World (2008).
These books were widely read, by both fans and critics. No Place for Truth was named Book of the Year in Christianity Today‘s Theology and Biblical Studies category when it was published.
WORLD Magazine included it in their top 100 books of the Millennium.
Albert Mohler has described the book as “the bomb that exploded on the evangelical playground.”
Cornelius Plantinga Jr. says that “Like that of Solzhenitsyn, David Wells’s cultural criticism will be read a century from now.” What strikes Plantinga most about Wells’s books, he writes, “is their desperately deep sense of loss. David Wells’s books are a prophet’s keys of the heart.” This is why Vanhoozer calls him “the weeping prophet of contemporary evangelicalism.”
In this new book, Wells explains that “some critics have complained that [these earlier five books] contain no answers to the church’s current parlous state. The criticism has some merit. In my mind, I assumed an answer to the dilemmas unearthed and was not always as explicit in setting this out as I should have been.”
This book is his answer—not merely a lament of where we have gone wrong but his positive vision of how we should go forward.
Wells argued that the church must recover an understanding of and encounter with the holy-love of God: his holiness bound to his love. And yet we often struggle to hold the paradox together.
Some of us tend to emphasize his holiness attributes (justice, righteousness, wrath) and others his love attributes (patience, goodness, kindness).
Historically the Church has tended to emphasize holiness at the expense of love (leading to moralism, Pharisaism) or love at the expense of holiness (liberalism, universalism). But Wells argues:
The deepest truths about God’s character are not simply about his holiness, or his love, but about his holiness in its bond to his love, the one expressing the other, each deepening the paradox of their belonging to each other, of belonging together. Each in relation to the other leads us into the glory of who God is in his character.
May the Lord would use this book to encourage and edify God’s people as they seek to live before our holy and loving Lord.
(For more information on the book, go here.)