Christians Smith’s Heartbreaking Conclusion

Following an unprecedented study on the religious lives of American teens, Professor Christian Smith came to this conclusion:

We have come with some confidence to believe that a significant part of Christianity in the United States is actually only tenuously Christian in any sense that it is seriously connected to the actual historical Christian tradition,

but has rather substantially morphed into Christianity’s misbegotten step-cousin, Christian Moralistic Therapeutic Deism…  The language and therefore experience, of Trinity, holiness, sin, grace, justification, sanctification, church, Eucharist, and heaven and hell appear, among most Christian teenagers in the United States at the very least, to be supplanted by the language of happiness, niceness, and an earned heavenly reward.

It is not so much that Christianity is being secularized.  Rather more subtly, Christianity is either degenerating into a pathetic version of itself or, more significantly, Christianity is actively being colonized and displaced by a quite different religious faith.

Christian Smith “Soul Searching: the religious and spiritual lives of American teenagers.”

Radical Burnout

“Calling us to do great things for God is part of the hype that constantly burns out millions of professing Christians.  Telling us about the great things God has accomplished–and, more than that, actually delivering his achievement to sinners–is the real mission of the church…  Radical discipleship means bringing to the world–including Christians–the wonderful, surprising, and offensive news of the gospel.  Nothing we have done, are doing, or can do is radical.  It is the same old story of human striving.”

Michael Horton “Christless Christianity

Photo taken from Christianity Today’s Article “Here Come the Radicals

Michael Horton on Witnessing

“Mere imperative to more faithful living will only drive one to either despair of self-righteousness (or a little of both).  We are transformed not by hearing more and more about ourselves and each other but by hearing more about God and his mighty acts of salvation throughout history.  Our Buddhist cousins, Muslim neighbors, and burned-out churchgoers need to encounter disciples of Christ who point away from themselves, witnessing to Christ as the Savior of sinners–even Christians like ourselves who still fall short of the glory of God.  They need to be introduced to the Good News that is greater than all of our sin, including the sins of Christians.  They do not need to see more Christians holding up their lives as the gospel, only to watch them fall; they need more Christians holding up Christ as the gospel as they confess their sins and receive his priestly absolution.”

Michael Horton “The Gospel Commission

Lust and Christ’s Active Obedience

This spring, I’m taking St. Paul’s High School students through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  A couple weeks ago we came across this doozy:

Matthew 5:27-28  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Here Jesus up’s the ante and shows us the true intent of God’s law and it’s terrifying.  Purity rings, “TV Guardian,” and Ted Mosby’s “Sensory Deprivator 5000”  are of no help here because Jesus is dealing with our hearts. Continue reading

Calvin at His Best

“We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ.  We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it anywhere else.  If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is ‘of him.’  If we seek any gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing.  If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth…  If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross; if sanctification, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection;… if inheritance of the heavenly kingdom, in his entrance into heaven; if protection, if security, if abundant supply of all blessing, in his kingdom; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given him to judge.  In short, since rich store of every kind of good bounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other.”

John Calvin “Institutes” 2.16.19