David Wells and Shlomo

Having read a bit of David Wells in my undergrad, his nostalgia for the past is palpable on every page he writes (see especially, God in the Wasteland). If only we could return to small scale agrarian communities with the church at the center, things would be so much better, wouldn’t they?

Not so for Shlomo. Ecclesiastes 7.10 reads: “Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.”

Some questions are better left unasked. That includes lamenting the current state of the church with a view to a certain era of the past, be it the Puritans, the early church, the Azusa Street revival, whatever. Solomon probably saw the tendency for nostalgia leading to an escapist mentality and bitterness. We are called to live in the present, not to dwell on the past.

As Mark Driscoll says in Radical Reformission,

There has never been a “good old day” since the Great Thud in Eden. Every age is filled with sin, sinners, God’s love, and work to be done. Each generation has its resistance to the gospel, and each culture is equally far from God because of sin and equally close to God because of his love. As Solomon repeatedly says, there is indeed nothing new under the sun.