Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church

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Overview

The church in America has been willingly taken captive. The captors are American culture and ideals: consumerism, pragmatism, self-sufficiency, individualism, positive thinking, personal prosperity, and nationalism. These are antithetical to the gospel, but we have nevertheless made them part and parcel with it. We are well on our way to a Christless Christianity.

The result? A faith that is, in Michael Horton's prophetic words, "trivial, sentimental, affirming, and irrelevant."...

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Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church

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Overview

The church in America has been willingly taken captive. The captors are American culture and ideals: consumerism, pragmatism, self-sufficiency, individualism, positive thinking, personal prosperity, and nationalism. These are antithetical to the gospel, but we have nevertheless made them part and parcel with it. We are well on our way to a Christless Christianity.

The result? A faith that is, in Michael Horton's prophetic words, "trivial, sentimental, affirming, and irrelevant." This alternative "gospel" is a message of moralism, personal comfort, self-help, self-improvement, and individualistic religion. It trivializes God, making him a means to our selfish ends.

In this critically acclaimed book, Horton skillfully diagnoses the problem and points to the solution: a return to the unadulterated gospel of salvation. Here is a must-read for anyone concerned about the state and future of Christianity and the church in America.

"A more important and timely volume could not have been written."—Thabiti M. Anyabwile, senior pastor, First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

"Horton's brush is broad—expect loud lamentation from the evangelical camp—but the picture he paints is largely accurate."—Parker T. Williamson, editor emeritus and senior correspondent, The Presbyterian Layman

"Christless Christianity establishes Michael Horton as the outstanding protagonist for classical Protestant orthodoxy."—Episcopal Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison

Michael Horton (PhD, University of Coventry and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford) is J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California. He hosts the White Horse Inn radio broadcast and is editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine. He is the author/editor of more than fifteen books, including Putting Amazing Back into Grace, The Gospel-Driven Life, The Gospel Commission, and Introducing Covenant Theology.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In another screed on what's wrong with American Christianity, theology professor Horton, of Westminster Seminary California, bemoans the slide of the American Christian church into what he, and others, call a moralistic, therapeutic deism. Drawing on studies, surveys and anecdotal evidence, Horton reaches the oft-repeated conclusion that American Christianity is self-centered rather than Christ-centered, Jesus is a life coach rather than a redeemer, and salvation is focused on therapeutic well-being. He rants against the purveyors of this watered-down Christianity-Robert Schuller, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer-but saves his most savage attack for megachurch preacher Joel Osteen, whom Horton depicts as a snake-oil salesman teaching that God is a personal shopper ready to deliver happiness and prosperity if only individuals let God know their needs. Horton reveals his lack of theological depth when he argues that ancient Gnostics saw God as no different from humans. Yet Gnosticism's entire point is this difference. Horton regrettably offers no recommendation for the reformation of American Christianity beyond a simplistic call to let the church be defined by the Gospel rather than the laws of the market. (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801072215
  • Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/1/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 641,943
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Horton (PhD, University of Coventry and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford) is J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California. He hosts The White Horse Inn radio broadcast and is editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine. He is the author/editor of more than twenty books, including Christless Christianity, The Gospel-Driven Life, and The Gospel Commission.

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Liberating a Captive Church 9

Acknowledgments 13

1 Christless Christianity: The American Captivity of the Church 15

2 Naming Our Captivity: Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism 29

3 Smooth Talking and Christless Christianity 65

4 How We Turn Good News into Good Advice 101

5 Your Own Personal Jesus 159

6 Delivering Christ: The Message and the Medium 189

7 A Call to the Resistance 237

Notes 261

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 26, 2009

    Desperately Needed

    I would encourage you to ignore the 'editorial' review. Michael Horton has clearly argued convincingly for the premise he makes regarding the problems in the American Church today. He has also touched on a concern I have had for a number of years while also showing me where my theology has fallen short of the truth of the gospel.

    Medicine is seldom pleasant tasting but usually necessary for a return to health.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2009

    Mike Horton has diagnosed the problem in contemporary Christianity and provided surprisingly good news as regards the solution. This is less scholarly than his earlier books, but no less precise and compelling.

    '

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2010

    Too Extreme

    Thomas Jefferson is criticized for cutting all the references to miracles out of his Bible. Horton attempts to a similar feat by demanding a Christianity that excludes any human active participation. This book is one confused polemic of poorly defined terms, grossly misapplied. He takes shots at many Christian groups by name calling and over generalizations. Yes, Christ saves us and that is foundational to Christianity. One example of his extremism - He condemns the classic hymn, "In The Garden", stating that being in a garden alone with God implies that person doesn't need the church. He is like a guy trying to do dental surgery with a sledge hammer and chisel. A very lazy thinker or one suffering from bi-polar disorder. Better to take a nap than read this book.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2012

    Necessary reading.

    Necessary reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2012

    Exposed problems but not any real solutions

    Horton gets right to the point that way too much of church is about self-help moralism rather than the work of Christ. He drives it home in chapter after chapter. But the book lacks any more of an answer than go hear a good calvanist preacher, take communion and be baptized. After such a great start, I really wanted more. He rails on performance oriented Christianity, which needs to be challenged, but doesn't follow up with what to do with all of the admonitions in the New Testament.

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    Posted June 14, 2012

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    Posted September 29, 2009

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