Michael Horton on the Church in America

“I think that the church in America today is so obsessed with being practical, relevant, helpful, successful, and perhaps even well-liked that it nearly mirrors the world itself.  Aside from the packaging, there is nothing that cannot be found in most churches today that could not be satisfied by any number of secular programs and  self-help groups.

Christless Christianity.  Sounds a bit harsh, doesn’t it?  A little shallow, sometimes distracted, even a little human-centered rather than Christ-centered from time to time, but Christless?  Let me be a little more precise about what I am assuming to be the regular diet in many churches across America today: ‘do more, try harder…’

Judging by its commercial, political, and media success, the evangelical movement seems to be booming.  But is it still Christian?

I am not asking that question glibly or simply to provoke a reaction.  My concern is that we are getting dangerously close to the place in everyday American church life where the Bible is mined for ‘relevant’ quotes but is largely irrelevant on its own terms; God is used as a personal resource rather than known, worshiped, and trusted; 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…

Instead of the gospel giving us new thoughts, experiences, and a motivation for grateful obedience, we lodge the power of God in our own piety and programs.”

Michael Horton “Christless Christianity: the Alternative Gospel of the American Church.”


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