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Tag Archives: michael horton

We have all sinned and fall short…

“No one will be offended if we tell them that they are good people who could be a little better. The offense comes when we tell them that they – and we – are ungodly people who cannot impress God or escape his tribunal. Until our preaching of the law has exposed our hearts and God’s holiness at that profound level, our hearers will never flee to Christ alone for safety even if they come to us for advice.” -Michael Horton

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I hope you don’t preach that. It will hurt a lot of beautiful people.

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I am currently reading Michael Horton’s Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church. I only wish I had read such a good book a couple of years earlier. It pulls no punches and zaps like that tonic that the doctor ordered with a wink – and twinkle in his eye. No, it’s not racy and nor does it tickle your ego.

Michael Horton tells of the time when he had an opportunity to interview Dr. Robert Schuller (a self help author and televangelist) who always favoured a ‘human needs approach’ to Christianity insisted that “classical theology has erred in its insistence that theology be ‘God centered,’ not ‘man centered’.” He defined sin as ‘any act or thought that robs,us or another human being of his or her self esteem…[infact says Schuller] a person is in hell when he has lost his self esteem.’

It is easy to see how Dr Schuller’s Christianized gospel lite became very popular and acceptable even among Muslims, Hindus and Atheists. After all who doesn’t like their ego tickled?
But what does the bible actually say? When asked to interpret the portion of scripture below, Dr Schuller’s response was a classic reply that many popular pastors give:

 

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 2 Tim 3:1-5

 

Schuller immediately responded by saying, ‘I hope you don’t preach that. It will hurt a lot of beautiful people.’

Well, oh yes, Robert! But isn’t that exactly what preaching of the truth should do?

…Read More!

Death will always be a foe. Never a friend!

20120707-152437.jpgWe all have an appointment with death. It’s an appointment that will not be delayed and will never be postponed. As a Christian father I have had to speak to my children about death. Taught them it is part of the consequence of the fall and sin. Reminded them that even their daddy has sinned and one day they will bury their daddy or their daddy may bury them. We usually attend funerals as a family and mourn with friends and family who have lost a loved one. We also take that time to encourage them in the Lord (that we do not mourn though as those who have no hope but in Christ death is just a temporary separation of soul and body). Ryan Burns has also learnt something about death. In an interesting post he says:

I was reading Michael Horton’s new book, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, and that line struck me. Death is an enemy, not a friend. Perhaps it is my longing to be with Christ (Php 1:23) or my love for the song “I’ll fly away,” I often, in the life of a Christian, forget that death is still an enemy. I found Horton’s comments encouraging and helpful.

Part of the curse is the separation of the soul from body (Ge 2:17; 3:19, 22; 5:5;Ro 5:12; 8:10; 1co 15:21). Death is an enemy, not a friend (1Co 15:26) and a terror (Heb 2:15), so horrible that even the one who would triumph over it was overcome with grief, fear, and anger at the tomb of his friend Lazarus (Jn 11:33-36). Jesus did not see death as a portal to “a better life.” Looking death in the eye, he saw it for what it was, and his disciples followed his example.After the deacon’s martyrdom, we read, “Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentations over him” (Ac 8:2). the reason that believers do not mourn as those who have no hope (1Th 4:14) is not that they know death is good, but that

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Evangelicalism is no longer Theologically Liberal. No, It’s fast becoming Vacuous (Empty)!

I have wanted to read Michael Horton’s Christless Christianity for a long while. Glad to find some one who has read it and made a book review. Thad Bergmeier (Changed by The Gospel) explains….

20120626-220348.jpgIn summary, Horton provides a scathing rebuke of the American gospel presentation. And this gospel message, which is summarized by Christian Smith’s–Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism–has only been successful because hundreds of thousands of people accept it. It is a gospel about them. It is a gospel to meet their comforts. But it is a gospel without Christ. His main argument in this book is “not that evangelicalism is becoming theologically liberal but that it is becoming theologically vacuous” (23). In case you do not know, vacuous means empty or without content; put in the context of this book, it means that evangelicalism has become without the content of Jesus Christ. In the book, even before he states that purpose, he has a statement that I think adequately represents the book.
“My concern is that we are getting dangerously close to the place in everyday American church life where the bible is mined for ‘relevant’ quotes but is largely irrelevant on its own terms; God is used as a personal source rather than known, worshiped, and trusted; Jesus Christ is a coach with a good game plan for our victory rather than a Savior who has already achieved it for us; salvation is more a matter of having our best life now than being saved from God’s judgment by God himself; and the Holy Spirit is an electrical outlet we can plug into for the power we need to be all that we can be” …Read More!

If Satan took control of a city in your country….

What would it be like if Satan took over a city? A very interesting thought here:

Over a half-century ago, Donald Grey Barnhouse, pastor of Philadelphia’s Tenth Presbyterian Church, gave his CBS radio audience a different picture of what it would look like if Satan took control of a town in America. He said that all of the bars and pool halls would be closed, pornography banished, pristine streets and sidewalks would be occupied by tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The kids would answer “Yes, sir,” “No, ma’am,” and the churches would be full on Sunday … where Christ is not preached. …Read More!

Revivalists: Along Came Charles Finney.

Excerpt from The Legacy of Charles Finney:

[Charles] Finney is particularly esteemed among the leaders of the Christian Right and the Christian Left, and his imprint can be seen in movements that appear to be diverse, but in reality are merely heirs to Finney’s legacy. From the Vineyard movement and the church growth movement to the political and social crusades, televangelism, and the Promise-Keepers movement, as a former Wheaton College president rather glowingly cheered, “Finney lives on!”

That is because Finney’s moralistic impulse envisioned a church that was in large measure an agency of personal and social reform rather than the institution in which the means of grace, Word and Sacrament, are made available to believers who then take the Gospel to the world…

To demonstrate the debt of modern evangelicalism to Finney, we must first notice his theological departures. From these departures, Finney became the father of the antecedents to some of today’s greatest challenges within the evangelical churches themselves; namely, the church growth movement, Pentecostalism and political revivalism.

Who Is Finney?

Reacting against the pervasive Calvinism of the Great Awakening, the successors of that great movement of God’s Spirit turned from God to humans, from the preaching of objective content (namely, Christ and him crucified) to the emphasis on getting a person to “make a decision.”

Charles Finney (1792-1875) ministered in the wake of the “Second Awakening,” as it has been called. A Presbyterian lawyer, Finney one day experienced “a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost” which “like a wave of electricity going through and through me…seemed to come in waves of liquid love.” The next morning, he informed his first client of the day, “I have a retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead his cause and I cannot plead yours.” Refusing to attend Princeton Seminary (or any seminary, for that matter), Finney began conducting revivals in upstate New York. One of his most popular sermons was, “Sinners Bound to Change Their Own Hearts.”… Read More