Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Reformed Baptist Theological Review
Volume: RBTR 07:1 (Jan 2010)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Readers will understand that we are not able to supply these books.

Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church, Michael Horton (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2008), and The Gospel- Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World, Michael Horton (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2009),

reviewed by John Divito

What is the state of the American church today? How are we to understand surveys showing many evangelical Christians not even having the most basic familiarity with Scripture or a biblical worldview while at the same time seeing larger and larger megachurches built and a growing recognition of evangelicals in the public square? These truths may seem to be at odds with each other, but as Michael Horton seeks to show in his recent book Christless Christianity, they both are a result of the American church slowly abandoning Jesus Christ and his gospel. Horton writes this work to expose the seriousness of the danger we face, pointing us back to our Savior and Lord as our only life and hope.

He begins by diagnosing the problem: American churches are being distracted from Christ. This is not merely a problem for liberals, but includes conservative, Bible-believing (and even Reformed!) churches. Horton summarizes this “Christless Christianity” by saying:

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. (19)

In other words, the gospel is taken for granted or is a means to an end, and the message of many churches usually boils down to “do more, try harder.” As a result, God is trivialized and Christ is reduced to a mascot or symbol, all while the label “Christian” is used more and more widely and frequently in our culture.

American Christianity has largely made a theological shift to

moralistic, therapeutic deism. The gospel gives peace of mind rather than peace with God, justification is exchanged for cathartic release, Christians change from witnesses to consumers, the lost and damned become those lacking direction, and grace is understood as assistance instead of rescue....

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