Matt Walsh was unknown to me until a few months ago. A friend asked me to read Walsh’s book Church of Cowards so we could talk about it. Walsh is a conservative blogger aligned with the religious right. I’m not the religious right’s biggest fan but I read on anyway.
Walsh is a literary bludgeon. If he lacks precision it’s because he’s not that kind of tool. When doing surgery, you want a scalpel. When clearing a field you want a scythe.
Considering Walsh’s subject, a bludgeon is probably the right tool. He spends the book confronting Christians for loving the world more than God.
Walsh begins with a story about heathens landing on America’s shores to destroy the church and our Christian way of life. The heathens ultimately give up because they can’t find any real Christians to kill. Instead, they find a nation worshipping actors, politicians, material things, and, above all, self.
Walsh makes his biggest point at the end of the book:
“When our time comes and we are standing before the throne of judgment, God, I imagine, will only need to ask one question…What do you want? And we, for the first time, will be forced to answer honestly…. I fear that a great many of us complacent Christians will have no choice but to look back at Him, knowing that we are seeing Him for the first and last time in our pitifully wasted lives, and say, ‘Myself, Lord. I want myself. Only myself.’”
Ouch. That’s strong medicine. But true. I will end this post with some additional quotes as Walsh has no trouble speaking for himself.
“We are horrified at attempts to erase ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance and ‘in God we trust’ from our currency. But why shouldn’t those phrases be removed? Are we, actually, a nation that trusts God and places itself under His authority? If not, then why do we insist on bearing false witness? God has already been chased out of our society. We may as well let the relics of our religious past be swept aside as well. Perhaps then we will be forced to confront the deeper issue” (from chapter two, “The Broad Road that Leads to Destruction”).
“We are called to be not simply believing Christians, but faithful Christians. […] What if I believe that He is, but I do not believe what He says? Then, as St. James observes, I am lower than an unbeliever. I am indeed in the same category as the demons. I have a knowledge of the one, true God, I admit that He is sovereign over all things, but I refuse to let Him exercise any influence over my life. ” (from chapter three, “Just Believe”).
“There is a lot of money to be made in Christian entertainment because the audience cares less about quality than about having their own beliefs repeated back to them. No need to spend money and time producing something with depth or insight or artistic value. Just hit the right notes, repeat the right lines, pander in the right way, and you’ll make millions. This is not a good state of affairs—it makes Christians look shallow to the outside world, and, worse, it causes Christians to actually become shallow because their religious ideas are being shaped by cheap emotionalism” (from chapter five, “The Gospel of Positivity”).
“Christ is there for anyone who really wants Him. Heaven is open to anyone who actually wants to go. […] If we are content to make Christ only a part of our lives here, how can we go to a place where there is no life apart from Him? I ask these questions of myself before I ask them of anyone else. I certainly know that my life doesn’t revolve entirely around Christ at present, but the more important question I must face is this: Do I want it to? Many of us…fantasize that Heaven will be like some sort of resort where we can eat all the cheesecake we want and have access to an infinite Netflix library and maybe toss the pigskin around with Johnny Unitas on a football field in the clouds. But if this is the only kind of happiness we desire—a selfish, indulgent kind of happiness—then we clearly do not desire the happiness of Heaven” (from chapter 12, “Heaven for Everyone”).