Oct 09

Christless Christianity, by Michael Horton ★★★★

By now, those who follow my blog might have noted that I have recently reviewed now three books by Michael Horton. I believe this to be the last, at least for a while. I tend to pick up an author and attack a few of their books before moving on, and that’s what I’ve done with Horton.  Like the book just reviewed on the Christian in culture by Horton, this book is another “me-too” book, this time discussing the loss of Christ in the American church. Horton is following in the heels of a number of superb writers on this subject, including Schaeffer, Carson, David Wells, Os Guiness, just to name a few. Yet, Horton does a superb job of putting things together, so he is not entirely repetitive in the task at hand. Several chapters in this book are superb, including the discussion of “smooth talking” and of a “personal Jesus”. Horton excels at developing the theological basis for the problem in the church, as well as the fix. Fundamentally, whether the church is liberal or conservative, they have the same problem, though manifested differently. Both conservative and liberal Christians have focused on the individual, the personal relationship, the walk in the garden with an experience that “none other has ever known”. What is lost is the church, as people turn inward to their own spiritual experience. The church meanwhile attempts programs and strategies for recruiting the member. Rarely do they ever consider returning to what Christ asked the church to do, which is simply to preach the word and to administer the sacraments. Horton likens it to a form of gnosticism to be focused on inner spirituality, while ignoring the church as Christ’s body on earth. Horton uses many examples to develop his thesis. In several chapters, he focuses on a particular person, including Joel Osteen in particular and his focus on happiness rather than the gospel. This book is worth reading for a theological insight into the status of the American church, and is a quite easy read that can be accomplished in several evenings.

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