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Dining With the Devil: The Megachurch Movement Flirts With Modernity (Hourglass Books) Paperback – August 1, 1993
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From the Back Cover
Today's megachurch movement should heed this warning, because of its often uncritical use of management and marketing tools to induce growth. Os Guinness provides a perceptive, thoughtful assessment of this powerful movement and its proneness to compromise with modernity.
About the Author
Os Guinness is a philosopher, social critic, and the author of many books, including Time for Truth, The Call, and Long Journey Home. He was born in China, educated in England, and has worked in the Washington, DC, area for more than 25 years. He has been a freelance reporter for the BBC, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a guest scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies. In 1991, Dr. Guinness founded the Trinity Forum, which hosts discussions with senior leaders in business and politics. He speaks widely at universities and business and political conferences around the world. He lives in McLean, Virginia, with his wife, Jenny.
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The book is subtitled "The Megachurch Movement Flirts with Modernity." We hear much more about postmodernity today than modernity, but this does not seem to detract from the book. Guinness warns that the Megachurch movement, which gained prominence in the eighties and nineties and continues to gain steam today, may be borrowing as much from the devil as from the Lord. And as Peter Berger warns, "He who sups with the devil had better have a long spoon." Guinness assesses the movement and warns that much of the foundation for the Megachurch Movement, which can be understood to be synonymous with the Church Growth Movement, is incompatible with Scripture. Some examples he provides are the uncritical use of marketing tools and management theories to induce growth in attendance. "When all is said and done," the author states, "the church growth movement will stand or fall by one question. In implementing its vision of church growth, is the church of Christ primarily guided and shaped by its own character and calling - or by considerations and circumstances alien to itself" (page 35). The heart of this question is one of authority - what will the church submit to as the ultimate authority? Will it be Scripture or will it be the ever-changing, ever-fickle demands of the culture? Is the audience sovereign, or is the message?
This book is short on names and specifics of individuals or churches, but long on analysis and warnings. The names Bill Hybel and Rick Warren do not appear at all. And thankfully this book is better-referenced than many of Guinness' other books, in which I have found his lax committment to footnotes exceedingly frustrating.
My only disappointment with this book is that much of it was repeated in Guinness' more recent book, Prophetic Untimeliness, which I found more timely and ultimately more helpful. If I had to recommend purchasing only one, I would recommend Prophetic Untimeliness. However, Dining With the Devil still makes for an interesting and challenging read, and one that at only 109 pages, can be accomplished in a short while. I recommend it.
Guinness targets secularism and modernity and the megachurch growth movement within Evangelicalism. Some themes include felt-needs and seeker-friendly services marketed to the detriment of Biblical truths, with the audience being seen as sovereign over the message.
The last 20 pages of the book are actually “The Celestial Rail-road’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne. That is an work openly based on John Bunyan’s (1628-1688) ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, but told from the perspective of someone deceived (thinking he is on the rail-road to the Celestial City, but finding out he is not).