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What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city? Over a half century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his scenario in his weekly sermon…Barnhouse speculated that is Satan took over Philadelphia,
all of the bars would be closed,
and the pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other.
There would be no swearing.
The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,”
and the churches would be full every Sunday
…where Christ is not preached
-Michael Horton, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008), 15. Emphasis his.
This is a good reminder that we do not proclaim good morals. We proclaim Christ! “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (Colossians 1:28)
If religion is basically ethics–getting people to do the right thing–then why get uptight over the different historical forms, doctrines, rituals, and practices that distinguish one version of morality from another? Let a thousand flowers bloom as long as people are being helped, right?
Reduce Christianity to good advise and it blends in perfectly with the culture of life coaching. It might seem relevant, but it is actually lost in the marketplace of moralistic therapies. When we pitch Christianity as the best method of personal improvement, complete with testimonies about how much better we are ever since we “surrendered all,” non-Christians can legitimately demand of us, “What right do you have to say that yours is the only source of happiness, meaning, exciting experiences, and moral betterment?” Jesus is clearly not the only effective way to a better life or to being a better me. One can lose weight, stop smoking, improve one’s marriage, and become a nicer person without Jesus.
~Michael Horton, Christless Christianity, p.102
The remedy: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:4).
“Is the Bible God’s story, centering on Christ’s redeeming work, that rewrites our stories, or is it something we use to make our stories a little more exciting and interesting?” ~Michael Horton, Christless Christianity, p.24.
Good point here by Horton. How do we approach the truth of Scripture? Do we select what portions we want to follow because we see that they will make our lives better. Or do we conform our lives to everything revealed in the words of Christ? One path is idolatress syncretism, the other is Spirit led worship.
“The church is not a club for those with similar cultural tastes, political views, ethnic backgrounds, and moral leanings. They do not meet because they share a hobby called spirituality or because they have the same version for transforming culture. Believers gather to be regularly reconstituted as the body of Christ, receiving Christ as their living Head. They do not gather on their own initiative but are gathered by the Spirit through his ordained means of grace.
Unlike voluntary associations (book clubs, political parties, or fans of the opera or garage bands), the church is not made up of peolpe I chose to be my friends. God chose them for me and me for them. They are my family because of God’s election, not mine. Gathered to be redefined by the kingdom of Christ rather than by the kingdoms of this age, we are then scattered again into the world as salt–not huddled together in Christian societies for moral transformation and ecclesiastically sanctioned political causes, but dispersed into the world as doctors, homemakers, plumbers, lawyers, truck drivers, citizens, and neighbors.”
~Michael Horton, Christless Christianity, p. 226