Live Chat with Michael Horton on “Christless Christianity”

9780801013188Back on Reformation Day, aka Halloween, aka October 31st, the Washington Post hosted a Live Web Chat with Michael Horton (White Horse Inn, Modern Reformation) helping to promote the release of his new book, Christless Christianity. The title of this book was also the focus of the programs during the past year on the White Horse Inn radio show. Horton attained a bit of media attention because of his recent statements critical of Joel Osteen’s theology, who serves as a good poster boy for what Horton calls “Christless Christianity,” but his book and the topic is far more extensive than a mere attempt to pull Osteen off of his pedastal. According to Horton, we all have the natural bent toward some form of Christless Christianity. We all tend to some degree to focus on ourselves and what we do at the expense of God and what he does for us in Christ. But to paraphrase the emphasis of Horton both on the radio and in his book(s), the grace and faith and love to serve Christ comes from the same source as the grace and faith and love that moved us to receive Christ in the first place: the good news of the sinless life, sacrifical death, glorious resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our problem is, we keep falling back on focusing on the Law of God or the various commands of Scripture, to such a degree that we forget it’s primary use is to expose our sin while its secondary use is to only guide believing obedience. It doesn’t impart the grace and faith and love to obey, it merely charts out for the believer what obedience ought to look like. The grace and faith and love to obey, again, comes from the gospel. So any exposition of Scripture that never gets around to the Person and Work of Christ, won’t convey to us the power to live the Christian life by the Spirit.


9 responses

  1. Amen John, amen! It is all about the Person and work of Christ on that bloody day!

  2. John,
    We certainly could use a bit more exposure of sin – no, not that kind of sin, but the kind that keeps us from making the sacrifice of our bodies, mind and will to the purposes of God (which would be selfishness).
    Hopefullly we always proclaim the Person and Work of Christ, even though it might be couched in the practically of living in this difficult world.
    Thanks or the post.


  3. It sounds like another subtle plug for “total depravity”. 🙂 Those rascally Calvinists!
    The truth is, once people are convinced of their radical depravity or their “bent” toward a Christless existance, they will have to depend on sovereign grace for any hope at all! That’s just where people need to be: total and utter dependence on God.

  4. X-tian,

    Hopefully, practical application is a preaching of the Person and Work of Christ? Au contraire (did I spell that right?), preaching what we ought to do is not a preaching of what Christ did. And preaching what one ought to do only tells us what we ought to do, it doesn’t empower us to do what we ought to do–faith (in the Gospel preached) is what works by love, not a renewed resolution to be victorious bereft of the Gospel preached. The Law kills, the Gospel gives life (and empowers obedience)! Luther’s famous saying was Lex Semper Accusatos–The Law always accuses.

    To preach the Law without also preaching the Gospel is guilty of doing like that old analogy about the Law being a mirror which shows us our face is dirty, but the mirror doesn’t enable you to clean your face. If you try to use a mirror to scrape the dirt off, you might just cut yourself, you know. The Law kills. The Gospel (the narrow definition–not the whole Bible) gives life. Nothing else will fly around here.

  5. John,

    if I got it, do you want some? 🙂 I will be happy to share!

  6. Michael,

    Naa! You keep it–Jesus gave me some, too!


  7. X-tian,

    BTW, tell “your pastor” that the Capt. dug his sermon on Rom. 12:1-2.

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