Theologically vacuous?

I’ve been reading through Michael Horton’s Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church, which is the prequel to his The Gospel-Centered Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World and have found it very challenging.  I’m not going to write a whole lot in this post other than share some statements Horton makes that I believe are worth repeating.  Here they are in no particular order:

  • He asks the question, “what would things look like if Satan really took control of a city?”  Donald Barnhouse, a Presbyterian minister said this – “if Satan took over Philadelphia, all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other.  There would be no swearing. The children would say, ‘yes, sir’ and ‘no, ma’am,’ and the churches would be full every Sunday…where Christ is not preached” (Horton, pp. 15).  Horton contends that the church has become captive to a “Christless Christianity.”  And before you go on railing against his words, think about where you attend church.  Is the gospel routinely preached?  Is it assumed?  When it is preached, does it give an accurate explanation of God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness, God’s provision in Christ and the necessity for every person to personally repent and believe upon Christ?  I hope so.
  • “While the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, the assimilation of the church to the world silences the witness” (Horton, pp. 16).  Horton’s words are a clarion call for the church to live, preach and embrace the gospel of Christ Jesus.
  • In many of churches today “Jesus Christ is a coach with a good game plan for our victory rather than a Savior who has already achieved it for us; salvation is more a matter of having our best life now than being saved from God’s judgment by God himself; and the Holy Spirit is an electrical outlet we can plug into for the power we need to be all that we can be” (Horton, pp. 19).
  • One argument, among many, that he makes in his book is that “evangelicalism is not becoming theologically liberal but that it is becoming theologically vacuous” (Horton, pp. 23). 
  • The scandal of Christ needs to be preached.  He writes, “nobody will raise a fuss if you find Jesus helpful for your personal well-being and relationships, of even if you think he was the greatest person in history – a model worthy of devotion and emulation.  But start talking about the real crisis – where our best efforts are filthy rags and Jesus came to bear the condemnation of helpless sinners who place their confidence in him rather than in themselves – and people begin shifting in their seats, even in churches” (Horton, pp. 26).

I’ll share some more in days/weeks to come, but suffice it to say, his book is filled with a lot of wisdom

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