Horton’s Christless Christianity

January 2, 2009

christless-christianity1In his new book, Christless Christianity, Michael Horton provides a sobering look on the state of today’s American evangelical church.

Horton argues that the American evangelical church has lost the centrality of Christ as the gospel as we have been overly influenced by Pelagianism, revivalism, gnosticism, and what is labeled “moralistic, therapeutic deism.” Horton writes that the key to his criticism is that “once you make your peace of mind rather than peace with God the main problem to be solved, the whole gospel becomes radically redefined (39).” Influenced by our American autonomy and modernism we have made the gospel about us, not about Christ. We use Christianity to make our lives better and degrade Christ to being our life coach instead of our Savior.

Furthermore, Horton argues that by making the gospel about us and not Christ evangelicalism is becoming “theologically vacuous.” God is not denied but he is trivialized. The gospel is about our changed lives and about how we can mold the gospel to fit our self-help programs.  We are exhorted to “do more, try harder.” The gospel is about imperatives instead of the “triumphant indicative” declared by Machen in Christianity and Liberalism.

Due to the second great awakening, revivalism, and gnosticism, we make the gospel more about experience rather than knowledge. We are about deeds not creeds.

Horton writes:

“Regardless of what the church teaches – or perhaps even what is taught in Scripture – the one unassailable authority in the American Religion is the self’s inner experience.” (170)

In Christless Christianity Horton hits a home run. My hope is that this book will assist the church in returning to the gospel for what it is. The gospel is about God’s divine rescue of sinners. The gospel is about news that happened outside of us in history. The gospel the reality of sin and the reality that Christ would become man to die on a cross to reconcile sinners to a just and holy God.

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