Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Christless Christianity by Michael Horton

Horton is always thought provoking. This book is no exception. Horton argues that much of what we read in popular Christian books (such as Osteen and Schuller) and see on TV (such as Osteen and Schuller) is "feel good" Christianity, a sort of moral therapeutic deism. The salvific work of Christ is missing.
Horton is also critical of the "emerging" and "missional" concepts. He declares, "The church has a very narrow commission. It is not called to be an alternative neighborhood, circle of friends, political action committee, social club, or public service agency; it is called to deliver Christ so clearly and fully that believers are prepared to be salt and light in the worldly stations to which God has called them." (Pg. 228) At the same time, Horton does acknowledge that, "...the Emergent church movement has reminded us that there is a serious call to discipleship in the New Testament." (Pg. 234)
Horton is Reformed and therefor emphasizes creeds and community spirituality (as opposed to private spirituality).
Even though I am thoroughly Reformed, I did not agree with everything Horton advances. I think he makes an unreformed distinction between the sacred and the secular (pg. 207). I was disturbed that he used a Barna report published in 1996 to "prove" that the church growth (or seeker-driven) movement (with emphasis on its missional aspect) shows no growth in professed conversions. (Pg. 227, footnote 44.) Not only is that data 13 years old, the term "missional" did not become prominent in church growth circles until the 1998 publishing of Missional Church, ed. by Darrell Gruder (Eerdmans Pub.).
Nonetheless, Horton is good for stimulating thought and lively discussion.

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