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Has American Christianity Failed?

by Bryan Wolfmueller

Item #: 124464 / 2016 / Paperback / 250 Pages

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American Christianity teaches the centrality of the individual—my will, my experiences, my decision, my heart, my work, and my dedication. Yet we couldn’t be more unaware that Christ and His saving and comforting work are being lost. Our minds and hearts are captivated in some way by those who often preach the Christian instead of Christ.

Wolfmueller sounds the alarm against the false teaching and dangerous practices of Christianity in America. He offers a beautiful alternative: the sweet savor of the Gospel, which brings us to the real comfort, joy, peace, freedom, and sure hope of Christ.

And it’s for you.

Free discussion questions when you order the book! A free downloadable PDF of study questions will be automatically added to your cart when you buy Has American Christianity Failed?

Read Chapter One for Free >

Praise for Has American Christianity Failed?
“In this sparkling handbook of Lutheran theology, the author draws on his own experience of popular American Christianity. Yet his focus is not on his own story but on the common impact of God’s Word as law and gospel on its hearers. Against the backdrop of its spiritually shallow and superficially Biblical claims, he portrays the full counsel of God evangelically and sacramentally, with wit and verve, clarity and depth, passion and imagination. And all that pastorally as comfort to people with a bad conscience! By the way that he teaches God’s Word, he arrests our attention, surprises us mentally with many new insights, energizes us spiritually, and gladdens our hearts. Its teaching drives away the cloying stench of decadent piety and replaces it with the joyful aroma of Christ and His fragrant, life-giving message.”
—Dr. John Kleinig

“Wolfmueller refuses to believe in the silent God of American spirituality and speaks the sweet savor of the Gospel at a time when we need it most. With a deft hand, he lances the boil of religious hypocrisy, but not without reason: the goal is not just to get the infection out, but to get the antidote in. Has American Christianity Failed? is an essential addition to the library of anyone wondering why American spirituality seems so broken and looking for God’s plan to fix it.”
—Jonathan Fisk, Creative Director and Pastor, Worldview Everlasting

“Bryan Wolfmueller has done us all a great favor. Whether you are a Lutheran casting an envious eye toward popular generic Christianity in America or whether you are a disappointed or disenfranchised American Christian wondering whether there’s a more substantial option, you will be enriched by this book. Bryan writes concisely, with clarity, humor, and precision. He writes candidly about his own personal journey through American pop Christianity toward Lutheranism, admitting he found the Lutheran Church sadly wanting at first. But like Martin Luther before him, Bryan has been persuaded by the clear teaching of Scripture. The result is a persuasive apologetic for the Lutheran confession of the Christ-centered biblical Gospel over against the me-centered gospel of American Christianity. Read it for yourself first, then pass it along to others looking for living water in the desert that American Christianity has become.”
—Dr. Harold L Senkbeil, Executive Director for Spiritual Care, DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel

“Christianity in North America has largely been shaped by unbiblical assumptions about the power of human choice. In an engaging and conversational style, Wolfmueller draws on his own experiences as a college student moving from church to church and more recently as a Lutheran pastor to offer a Christ-centered critique. Wolfmueller does not offer programs or techniques for church revitalization but rather invites his readers to hear the Word of the cross and find their confidence in the sure and certain promises of Christ Jesus. This book will challenge, edify, and encourage faithful disciples of Jesus Christ in the context of our self-addicted and chaotic culture.”
—John T. Pless, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions, Concordia Theological Seminary

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Customer Reviews

Has American Christianity Failed?

by Bryan Wolfmueller

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Wonderful Book

I feel this book was written so that we as lay people can easily understand what Pastor Wolfmueller is talking about. It is a Christ centered book, and is a great book to pass on to family and friends who may be confused or upset about what there current Church is teaching and preaching. Once again Pastor Wolfmueller has written a book that is easily understood. Again Pastor has shown us of the love of Christ for all people.

1 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not

This is an amazing book. Love it, and the truth it reveals. Need more of it. I have a read my copy several times now, and use it as a reference book. This book needs to be an audio book. I travel a lot, and having the wise sharing of the Word from Pastor Wolfmueller and other CPH authors would be great. Please CPH, why not?

1 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
An important work for Pastors

As someone who grew up in Pentacostalism before landing in Lutheranism, I highly recommend this book for any Pastor or church worker who have people joining their congregations who are coming from evanglicalism. This book will be very helpful in understanding where they are coming from and some of the spiritual road blocks in their way.

1 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
The Comfort of the Gospel to those Oppresed by the Law

Has American Christianity Failed? by Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller brings the comfort of the Gospel to the Law scorched wasteland of American Christianity. It brings the comfort of knowing that Christ’s salvific work on the Cross is for you. It removes the uncertainty of trying to find God’s will for your life through subjective introspection and in its stead gives you the comfort of God’s external Word which is clear, sufficient, and efficacious. It reveals how the Word became flesh and took our place on the Cross fulfilling the Law’s requirements; this Revelation means that we no longer have to wonder if we have done enough to merit salvation in this dark and evil age but rather that we can have confidence that Christ died for our Sin, making us heirs of Salvation, and has risen to usher in His eternal reign. I only wish that I had access to this book when I was coming out of American Christianity because it is exactly what I was looking for! I would highly recommend Has American Christianity Failed? to anyone weighed down by guilt and longing to be free.

1 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
Best book I have read in a long time

As an LCMS Lutheran in America, this book serves as an incredibly valuable resource. There were many things that I didn't know about American Christianity and Lutheranism that the author does an outstanding job of teaching. I was surprised how much of American Christianity had infiltrated my thoughts and views and has creeped into the Lutheran church. Everyone should read this book. Don't hastate to buy it. It's well worth the $17 price tag. You will want to read it more than once.

1 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
Amazing read. Leaves no room for doubting the mercies of God.

This book was incredibly helpful for me as former evangelical. If you currently see yourself as an "American Christian," and this title is offensive to you, that's completely understandable. However, the question: "Has American Christianity Failed?" is a question that needs to be asked, and Wolfmueller provides a wonderful treatment of the various facets of American Evangelicalism. So, if the title makes you uncomfortable, l would encourage you to get this book and see if you can't refute these arguments yourself. Obviously l can't speak for those currently under the evangelical umbrella, but when l read this book, the author earned my trust by his clear and honest use of Scripture in diagnosing some problems that can be found in evangelical teachings and practice. One thing to note, is that when he speaks of American Christianity, he refers to the general landscape of American Christianity, not necessarily a single church, organization, or theological school of thought. In fact, he identifies that "American Christianity" has even had a role in shaping the thought of Lutherans, whether we recognize it or not, so don't think that this is an attack on one group in particular (though he certainly does name some). What this is, is a criticism of American Evangelicalism at large, and an analysis from the Bible concerning what Christians really ought to be doing and what we really ought to be believing. I cannot recommend this highly enough.

2 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
Does Disdainfulness Contribute to the Christian Message?

Five stars for an able exposition of conservative Lutheran doctrine, minus two stars for failure to recognize trinitarian Evangelical Christians as brothers and sisters. The book’s disdainfulness detracts from the Christian message. C.F.W. Walther said “The Evangelical Lutheran Church has thus all the essential marks of the true visible Church of God on earth as they are found in no other known communion.” Pastor Wolfmueller takes Walther’s assertion to the next level, calling American Christianity a “vast wasteland,” and in a recent talk at the University of Colorado said that the aroma of American Christianity is like that coming from a garbage dump or a manure pile. Really? It’s not clear this is what Our Lord had in mind in John 13:34, when He gave us a new commandment, that we love one another. This book does a good job of elucidating LCMS understanding of the scriptures largely by contrasting with American Evangelical denominations. Wolfmueller’s explanation of repentance may surprise some, but he makes his case from the scriptures. And to be sure, Lutherans have a big stake in enforcing their unique understanding of the sacraments. This will ever divide them from the teachings of other Christian denominations. No one in the Bible had a firmer grip on their theology than the Pharisees, but Our Lord reserved His strongest criticism for them. While they preached the law as they should, nevertheless they had forgotten justice and mercy. Lutherans with a condescending attitude such as in this book are vulnerable to the same judgement – even after doing an academically good job of dividing the law and the Gospel. Condescension does not engender either the justice or the mercy Our Lord seeks. Wolfmueller tries to generalize American Christianity beyond churches identifying themselves with Evangelicalism, but this is not completely believable. Other denominations that don’t identify themselves with Lutheranism or Evangelicalism distance themselves from the same features he uses to characterize American Christianity (revivalism, pietism, mysticism, and enthusiasm). Evangelicalism as not a monolith. It arose from a confluence of the Anabaptist movement and Calvinism, but it has never solidified a single doctrine. Some Evangelical denominations have no creeds, while others apply the Apostle’s Creed or others. Wolfmueller had his experience in a popular implementation of Evangelicalism, and he appears to have extrapolated from there. Many Evangelicals will not recognize all of the traits he assumes. Wolfmueller’s charge against revivalism is based on the common, but not universal, arminianist and non-biblical strategy, in which people are called on to “make a decision for Christ.” Okay. But recall that an Evangelical revival in England led to the end of slavery in the British Empire. That force migrated to the United States and was intrinsic to the end of slavery here. Does LCMS commitment to orthodox doctrine yield such fruit in orthopraxy?

2 people found this comment helpful, 9 did not
Buy it for yourself and your friends.

This book is a must read. Pastor Wolfmueller rightly diagnoses the problems in American Christianity, but more importantly he clearly and carefully puts forth the solutions. It's a book I wish had been written years ago. I've already given away several copies and plan on giving away several more. You can stop reading the reviews and order one for yourself.

1 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
Review of "Has American Christianity failed?"

Reverend Bryan Wolfmueller delivers one of the greatest books I've read on the problems with American Christianity! In a simplistic but detailed way of defining and diagnosing the problems with American Christianity. He offers several views of how people are reading scripture in a "me" and my "works" type understanding instead of a "Christ crucified" understanding. He goes back to the biblical basis of scripture and discredits several false notions that people have about a unbiblical Christianity. If you are suffering from pride or despair, I highly recommend this book. I recommend it to the greatest theologian or the new Christian. Extremely well done! Zach Lesher

2 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
It has, and we need to understand why

As a newcomer to the Lutheran Confessions, I spent my life growing up under the heavy burden of American Christianity. Reading this book and listening to Rev Bryan Wolfmueller speak on these issues has given me vocabulary to finally articulate the pain and longing for rest and assurance of the Gospel. From the very first chapter, I was struck by his ability to put words to the error, and smartly diagnose the problem without creating straw men, and without vilifying the American Christian. This book gives credit where it is due, and comfort where it has been lacking for centuries. I firmly believe the individual who most needs to read this book immediately, is the one who has been crushed by another church who was only interested in what they were "doing for God". The next group is those who have been drawn away from the American Church, but lack the words to describe why that is so. Finally, for the life-long Lutheran who wants to see what exists outside their walls, outside of their church at what the American Church is doing, I implore you to read this book. If you've heard Fighting for the Faith and wondered, "how can anyone think that craziness has anything to do with the Church", this book will demonstrate the error and underlying theology that has driven (and continues to do so) the American church into its current state. It is my sincere hope that in reading this book, you'll better understand where folks like me are coming from, how important it is to share the precious gem of the Lutheran confessions with a hurting and wounded Body of believers, and be reminded of the precious gift you have in the Word and Sacraments, in the Liturgy, and in the Faith once and for all delivered to the saints.

3 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
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