The Proper Preaching of the Law

The proper preaching of the law will lead us to despair of ourselves, but only so that we may finally look outside ourselves and look to Christ.

– Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p. 133

It’s As If It Had Been Me

Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against God’s commandments and of never having kept any one of them, and even though I am still inclined toward all evil, nevertheless, without my deserving it at all, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ, as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me,

– Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p. 132

There’s Only Two Religions

So there are really only two religions in the world: a religion of human striving to ascend to God through pious works, feelings, attitudes, and experiences and the Good News of God’s merciful descent to us in his Son. The religions, philosophies, ideologies, and spiritualities of the world only differ in the details. Whether we are talking about the Dalai Lama or Dr. Phil, Islam or Oprah, liberals or conservatives, the most intuitive conviction is that we are good people who need good advice, not helpless sinners who need the Good News.

– Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p. 128

Who Is this Story About Anyway?

When we confuse law and the gospel, but each does different things.  When we confuse law and gospel, we avoid both the trauma of God’s holiness and the liberating power of his grace.  We begin to speak about living the gospel, doing the gospel, even being the gospel, as if the Good News were a message about us and our works instead of about Christ and His work.

– Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p. 124

It’s Just Legalism Lite

No longer threatened with hell of comforted with heaven, the new legalism is the upbeat and cheerful hum playing in the background.  It’s still a form of works-righteousness, with its carrot and sticks.  Follow my advice and you’ll really connect with God’s best for your life.  If you are not happy, perhpas you have fallen out of God’s favor and blessing.  Only those who are “completely surrendered.  Now here are the steps to living the victorious Christian life.  Are you following the steps?  Do you have enough faith?  Are you praying enough, reading the Bible enough, witnessing enough, serving in the church, loving enough?  This diet of imperatives becomes just as burdensome and human-centered as the older legalism; it’s just Legalism Lite.  And when we burn out on one program, there is always another best-seller, movement, or plan around the corner.

– Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p. 123

This is Always Surprising, Counterintuitive and Offensive

Every religion – including Christless Christianity, which is not Christianity at all – assumes some form of redemption by self-effort.  It is always surprising, counterintuitive and even offensive for human beings to hear that salvation does not depend on human decision or  effort but on God who shows mercy (Romans 9:16).

– Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p.  122-123

This, Is Perhaps the Worst Thing that Can Happen to the Church

The worst thing that can happen to the church is to confuse law and gospel. When we soften the law, we never give up on our attempts to offer our rags of “righteousness” to God. When we turn the gospel into demands, it is no longer the saving Word of redemption in Jesus Christ alone.

– Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p. 122

The Most Fundamental Difference Between Christianity and Liberalism

Here is the most fundamental difference between liberalism and Christianity – liberalism is altogether in the imperative mood, while Chsitianity begins with a triumphant indicative.  Libralism appeals to man’s will, while Chsitianity announces first, a gracious act of God….Liberalism regards Christ as an Example and Guide; Christianity, the object of faith.

– J. Graham Machen

as quoted by Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p. 121-122

The Gospel is So Odd, Even to Us Christians…

The gospel is so odd, even to us Christians, that we have to get it again and again.  That is why God has graciously created different avenues for getting it to us: he proclaims it by the mouth of another in Christ’s name, bathes me in it with water and puts in my hand through bread and wine.

– Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p. 121

Tragically, My Generation Will Likely Fare No Better

Tragically, my generation will likely fare no better than the previous one on the hypocrisy test.  We too will fall far short of that mandate to love God and our neighbor.  What we need, therefore, is a gospel that is sufficient to save even unfaithful Christians.  We can never take the gospel for granted.  It is always the surprising announcement that fills our sails with faith for an active life of good works.

– Horton, Michael; Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 2008; p. 120