Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Viewpoint - Washington Post Web-chat with Dr. Michael S. Horton

Here is a question that I asked of Mike Horton of the White Horse Inn. And his answer. You'll notice that it is a similar topic that I sent to the Christian Standard Editor.

Grace and Peace,
Chris Allen
Coram Deo!!!

Wichita, Kan.: I have visited some of the Christian Bible Colleges around the country and have sat in some of the classes being offered. I have also visited churches planted by these colleges and they all have become infected by this virus and are now promoters of this Christless Christianity. Question: Since this problem is so sweeping across the country and denominations, do I contact the Presidents of these Colleges? What can we say or do to change the tide? Or are we on the "Downgrade" that Charles Spurgeon warned us about so many years ago?

Michael S. Horton: You put your finger on a major argument in my book. Conservatives often identify "Christless Christianity" with liberalism. However, it is hard to find Christ-centered preaching in so-called "Bible-believing" churches today. Everybody seems to be interested in other things these days.

The prophets, Jesus, Paul, Augustine, the Protestant Reformers, Spurgeon, and countless others had to confront the heresy of self-salvation. It is our default setting to believe that we are basically good people who could be a little better with the right game-plan, support-network, and coaching. "God helps those who help themselves": according to surveys, most evangelicals thought that this was a biblical quotation, when it actually comes from Ben Franklin. The Good News that the Bible proclaims, however, is that God saves those who cannot save themselves.

The first thing we have to realize if there is going to be genuine reformation in the churches today is that the self-trust that engenders Christless Christianity is not just a problem in some times and places, but is the natural drift of our fallen heart. We have to be taught out of it our whole lives as Christians. One generation assumes the gospel; the next generation forgets it; the next one abandons it. But each of us will be constantly tempted to fall back on ourselves instead of on Christ unless Christ is seen as the center and circumference of the church's preaching, teaching, the sacraments, and mission.


ben said...

I'm a bit confused as to exactly what you mean by this "Christless Christianity" that you are pointing out. Could you please elaborate a bit on what exactly that means.

If you are pointing to the pragmatic sense of dealing with social issues, I would really like to see more of your case for saying that this social concern is replacing the teaching of Christ in the church (and bible colleges specifically). I see the two as side by side, and with the social aspect flowing out of the teaching of Christ and the Gospel.

But, if I am unaware of something, please; I would love to see it.

CalvinNo5 - Chris Allen said...

In a nutshell, when I preach I should ask myself. Did Jesus Christ needed to have died to make this sermon true? Could I have very well heard this same sermon in a Mormon Temple? If the answer to those questions is yes then you have a message that isn't about Christ and if this is the weekly diet being delivered from the pulpit then it is a Christless Sermon and essentially you will have a congregation that is a part of this Christless Christianity. There is more to it than that and there is a reason at the heart of this and I'm willing to elaborate more if you would like.