I was excited to receive my review copy of Matthew E. Farris’s book Evangelicals Adrift a few months ago. While I haven’t been able to read through every word, I have read large portions of the book and have given it a good looking over. It looks to be a valuable resource for the interested layman.
What exactly is Evangelicals Adrift about? Simply put, Farris is concerned to highlight and address the trend of evangelical Protestants who are leaving their churches to join Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. This book has personal relevance for me as I have had both friends and family members who have done this very thing. Farris tackles this problem by categorizing both Rome and the East as examples of “Sacramentalism”. Chapter one of the book unpacks this term and seeks to lay a ground plan for the rest of the book.
I appreciate the fact that while Farris does spend some time discussing issues such as Mary and the Saints (see chapter 8), he only does so after striking at the core issues. At the end of the day, it is vital to recognize that the disagreements which Protestants have with Sacramentalists over these topics are symptoms of a much larger disagreement. The core issues always come back to authority, certainty, and interpretation. Farris’s book is useful in that it focuses the discussion on these topics and explores the divide which separates Protestants from Sacramentalists on this topic. He avoids side issues and sticks to his point.
One feature of this book that is both a strength and a weakness is that Farris writes as a layman. As far as I can tell, he is neither a Pastor nor a Professor. This gives his book the strength of being accessible and simple. At times, however, there is a lack of nuance in the explanations and expressions which one wishes were more fleshed out or more thoroughly explored. Nevertheless, Farris draws from an impressive body of solid scholarship in making his case and it is a subject worth addressing.
All in all I found the book helpful, engaging, and stimulating. It is not the final word, but it would be a good entry point for those interested in the topic.
I would like to thank the good folks over at Cross Focused Reviews for providing me with a free review copy of this book. I was not obligated to provide a positive review.