Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Quotes from Christless Christianity

Quotes from Christless Christianity (Horton, Michael Scott. Christless Christianity the alternative gospel of the American church. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2008) by Michael Horton:

"Our default setting is law rather than gospel, imperatives ( things to do or feel) rather than indicatives (things to believe)...Everyone assumes the law. It is the gospel that is a surprising announcement that none of us had a right to expect. As such, it has tobe told again and again. And the only people who can tell it are those who themselves have heard the story, sung the story, and can herald it to others." (131)

"In my experience, this is where a lot of Christians are living today: not quite accosted by the death sentence of the law, they are also not regularly hearing the liberating Good News of the gospel. Our intuition tells us that if we just hear more practical preaching (that is, moving exhortations to follow Jesus), we will improve. When this becomes our main diet, however, we do not find ourselves improving. We neither mourn nor dance. But bring me into the chamber of a holy God, where I am completely undone, and tell me about what God has done in Christ to save me; tell me about the marvelous indicatives of the gospel-God's surprising interventions of salvation on the stage of history despite human rebellion-and the flickering candle of faith is inflamed, giving light to others." (132)

"This characteristically American approach to religion, in which the direct relationship of the soul to God generates an almost romantic encounter with the sacred, makes inner experience the measure os spiritual genuineness. Instead of being concerned that our spiritual leaders faithfully interpret Scripture and are sent by Christ through the official ordination of his church, we are more concerned that they exude vulnerability, authenticity, and the familiar spontaneity that tells us they have a personal relationship with Jesus. Everything perceived as external to the self-the church, the gospel, the Word and sacraments. the world and even God-must either be marginalized or, in more radical versions, rejected as that which would alienate the soul from its immediacy to the divine." (169)

"The focus of faith and practice is not so much Christ's objective person and work for us, outside of us, as it is a personal relationship that is defined chiefly in terms of inner experience." (171)

"Just as there are legalistic and antinomian versions of ancient Gnosticism, contemporary spirituality can take fundamentalist and liberal forms. Yet they all give precedence to inner experience over external norms, the individual over the communion of saints, the immaterial over the material; the immediate, spontaneous, ever-new, and ever-unique personal experiences over the ordinary means of grace that God has provided for our maturity together in the body of Christ." (179)

"The net effect of this pevasive American spirituality has been to assimilate God to ouer own experience, felt needs, and aspirations." (180)

"When our churches assume the gospel, reduce it to slogans or confuse it with moralism and hype, it is not surprising that the type of spirituality we fall back on is moralistic, therapeutic deism." (247)

"Because believers remain sinner and saint simultaneously, they never outgrow their need to be fed by the gospel through these divinely instituted means of grace. Not only at their conversion but throughout their pilgrimage the gospel alone is "the power of God for salvation" (Rom. 1:16). If Christ is clearly proclaimed each Lord's Day from Genesis to Revelation, believers will be strengthened in faith and good works and unbelievers will be exposed to his regenerating Word. (252)

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