Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Forgetting Jesus?

Many polemics have been written about the North American evangelical church. Some center on theology, others on practice, but many assume that what evangelicals think or do is gospel centered. Michael Horton, in his new book, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (Baker), challenges readers to consider whether or not churches are preaching Christ, or something else. “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,” Horton writes. “Judging by its commercial, political and media success, the evangelical movement seems to be booming. But is it still Christian?”

Horton believes many churches cater to society by offering a Gospel that is easy to accept, while preaching and teaching “good advice” not “good news.” He sifts through popular Christian writers and teachers, most notably Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Robert Schuller, Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball and Mark Oestreicher, to reveal a reluctance to communicate the offensiveness of the gospel. According to Horton: “Today it is less about measuring ourselves against God’s holy will than about helping make good people better through good advice.”

Horton reveals that the moralistic, therapeutic, deistic worldview, discovered by sociologist Christian Smith is really the worldview of most Christian adults. Not everyone will agree with Horton’s arguments, but they certainly are worth considering. Has the church stopped preaching Christ and Him crucified? Are we leaving out central elements of the faith, especially when teaching the young? Horton’s diagnosis is compelling and seems more accurate than not, but it isn’t all bad news. He also reminds us of the Good News and suggests ways to put the church back on track.

1 comment:

Dana Ray said...

Thanks for posting a review of "Christless Christianity"! A lot of things in my life changed in this book's wake after reading it last January. I'm looking forward to reading his follow up book "The Gospel Driven Life", which contains some proposed answers to his many questions.