Author: Matt Walsh
Publisher: Regnery Publishing
One of the most difficult things to read is a criticism of yourself and your beliefs. This difficulty is unavoidable in Matt Walsh’s book Church of Cowards. While you may think this is obvious from the title, you will still find that Walsh found new ways to offend possibly every person who reads the book, including those, like myself, who typically agree with him. This is not entirely a bad thing. Instead of offend, I would like instead to offer you the word convict. Our self-righteousness is in dire need of a wake-up call, and that is what this book is for. It is an insightful “wake-up call to complacent Christians,” convicting us to acknowledge and wrestle with what we actually believe and what we are called to believe and live out.
Now I did not always agree on certain points of Walsh’s theology (he’s Roman Catholic and I’m Lutheran), but his cause and conclusion are on point. Walsh begins by noting that we are not persecuted in this country. Not really. Sure, we face some backlash, and we are in danger of losing religious liberty (there is no denying that, and he doesn’t). But we aren’t really worth persecuting by those who militantly oppose our faith. Most “churches” aren’t really Christian. As he says at the beginning of his book in a short story, “They came to kill what was already dead.” From here, Walsh describes how the church in America got to where it is, which is lukewarm at best.
Walsh also calls out specific points of “theology” that American Christians have adopted. This isn’t actually sound biblical doctrine but rather different heresies that make us feel good or “fit in” with the world. Such heresies include the sin of “I’m good enough” or the sadducceal excuse of “at least I’m not like this” fill-in-the-blank sin that you happen to not (usually) commit. Walsh points out that we are all in need of grace and forgiveness, not just the people outside of the church. Christ came to save sinners, to heal the sick. We are the sick, filthy, rotten sinners. Praise the Lord He came for us, too! But to deny that grace is to deny the power of God. This is a heresy that has infected the church, causing us to become self-righteous and complacent.
The world is full of weak, pitiful sinners like myself, people just looking for a way around our duties and obligations. A way to follow Christ without taking up our cross. A way to be a Christian without making sacrifices. A way to enter Heaven while holding onto a piece of earth.Matt Walsh, Church of Cowards
Walsh also points out that we can’t make a church that looks like the world. That would be pointless, and a losing battle. As he writes towards the end of his book, “It’s like, instead of welcoming a homeless man into our homes to warm and feed him, we tear down our walls so that we are just as cold and hungry as he.” Instead, we need sound doctrine, a contrite heart, and a passion for sharing the truth of God’s Word, not the ever-changing whims of man or the fad of the day. That is Christianity, and it won’t save anyone.
This is the great problem with American society: It is the widest gate the world has ever known. We are free to spread our arms and live exactly as we wish. But true freedom is not found in living exactly as we wish, but in living as God wishes.Matt Walsh, Church of Cowards
This book is definitely a good read for anyone who wants to know how the church in America got to where it is, and a must-read for American Christians. It will give you the slap upside the head that we all need. I mean that. It is easy to go into this book and say, “Well, at least I’m not complacent like those other so-called ‘Christians’!” But this is wrong. We all fall short, and we have all found ourselves staying silent, falling to the theology which worships the god of self. It’s easy to be a Christian in America, but it’s also dangerous. Thankfully, we also live by the grace of a just and merciful God who wants all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, one who is willing to forgive our complacency and guide us in how we should live. Until we are called home, we still have the time, and the responsibility, to wake up and share the real good news of the Gospel to all and build our churches back upon the foundation of God’s Word. This was a great read, a convicting and insightful read, and I hope you will enjoy it.
Blessings to you and yours,
~Madelyn Rose Craig