Book Review: The American Church: A Baby Church?

The American Church:  A Baby Church?, by D.W. Glomski

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/WestBow Press in exchange for an honest review.]

Those readers who have ever fretted about the problem of passivity or divisiveness among believers or who have ever viewed the American church in times of frustration as being a lot like the immature brethren at Corinth or the Laodicean church will find much to appreciate in this book, although as always there is much to disagree with as well [1].  For this reader, perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of this short book is the way that the author discusses the extremely formal liturgy and practice of the Plymouth Brethren, as well as their unfortunate tendency to split over slender pretexts, something that the author finds deeply lamentable.  The writer of this book follows a noble tradition of somewhat obscure people using the Bible as a ready application for profound difficulties that the author connects to a common root of a lack of spiritual maturity and a surfeit of dependence on the part of many believers.  To be sure, this book is sure to rub a lot of people the wrong way, and is worthy of some criticism on that account, but it is also a book that will hopefully spur many readers to reflection on their own faith traditions.

This short book is unevenly divided between two tasks.  The first task, which takes up around three quarters of the contents, consists of a rebuke of the contemporary American Protestant churches and their ordained leadership for fostering a money-hungry and power-hungry establishment that leaves members passive listeners and unable or unwilling to reason for themselves, looking to men rather than looking to God.  The author mixes pungent personal observations with thoughtful applications of the situation in Corinth to the state of many congregations today, places where people are complacent about personal sin, where there are divisions over insignificant matters, an absence of love and concern for others, a lack of spiritual and intellectual growth in matters of biblical knowledge and application, and a tendency for people to look to human leaders as their standard bearers.  The second part of the book, which closes its materials, consists of the author’s attempts to make sure that readers, including ordained leaders, are not offended by the earlier material.  It is unlikely that readers who are offended will make it far enough to read this material, and it would perhaps be advisable for the two sections to be reversed, so that the gentleness and mildness begins the book and sets the tone for how the rest of the material is read and interpreted.  As a writer all too familiar with offending my reading audience, I offer this as a humble suggestion, aware that there are likely to be people who are offended by this book’s materials regardless of how mildly the author seeks to set the context.  Even so, we should, in presenting our observations and judgments we should seek to cause no unnecessary offense and to put our words in the most felicitous context possible given the constraints we are under.

Although there is a great deal I found to be worthwhile about this book, and much that felt like a refreshing albeit somewhat bracing bit of loving criticism, there are at least a few aspects of the book that are worthy of comment if not criticism.  At times the author demonstrates his lack of biblical knowledge in that he appears not to have any desire to promote a biblical view of the Sabbath even as he expresses a desire to bring the behavior of the Church in line with the practice of the apostolic church.  At other times the author shows a personal distaste for long messages that overwhelms the biblical account of such matters–including the lengthy message of Paul to midnight after the Sabbath that led one unfortunate young man to fall to his death and require a miraculous resurrection.  A larger concern for many readers will be the fact that the book itself does not demonstrate the author’s credibility to speak to such matters in an authoritative fashion.  Those who are pricked by the author’s comments will likely wonder what sort of authority the writer has to make the harsh comments he does about the American church, no matter how true the statements are, in the main.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/1-corinthians-5-9-13-put-away-from-yourselves-the-evil-person/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/are-you-unworthy-to-judge-a-commentary-and-modest-proposal-on-1-corinthians-6-1-11/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/and-so-were-some-of-you-1-corinthians-6-9-11-focused-education-and-the-proclamation-of-the-gospel/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/pietism-is-not-enough/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/wasted-light/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/doctrinal-castles-made-of-sand/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/pray-pay-stay-and-obey/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/12/21/exploring-the-ironies-of-the-unity-of-faith-and-the-gifts-of-christ-ephesians-41-8/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/we-are-not-divided-all-one-body-we/

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About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Bible, Biblical History, Book Reviews, Christianity, History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Book Review: The American Church: A Baby Church?

  1. Pingback: Book Review: The Corinthian Catastrophe | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Toxic Leadership | Edge Induced Cohesion

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