Monday, January 31, 2011

Dr. Michael Horton: 2010 Christless Christianity Conference

    Lord willing, each day this week I will post video from the 2010 Christless Christianity Conference that was just posted on the Ligonier Ministries website.  While this conference accurately depicts the sad state of American (and world-wide) evangelicalism, most importantly what is also heard from each speaker is the precious antidote in the gospel of Jesus Christ!  This introductory video from Dr. Michael Horton (professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California, host of The White Horse Inn radio broadcast, and editor of Modern Reformation magazine) is available by clicking the link at the bottom of this post.
    For further study, I would recommend reading Michael Horton's book Christless Christianity:  The Alternative Gospel of the American Church, published by BakerBooks in 2008.  To whet your appetite for a subject that is distressing yet vitally necessary, here is a preview of the book written on the dust jacket:  
Invoking Martin Luther's treatise On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Michael Horton fears that the church in American has also been willingly taken captive. The captors are American culture and ideals: consumerism, pragmatism, self-sufficiency, individualism, positive thinking, personal prosperity, and nationalism. Though these are antithetical to the gospel, we have often made them part and parcel with it. 
Horton argues that while we haven't yet arrived at Christless Christianity, we are well on our way. Though we invoke the name of Christ, too often Christ and the Christ-centered gospel are pushed aside. The result is a message and a faith that are, in Horton's 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. 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.
As you watch the Christless Christianity Conference video's, I encourage you to reflect on the state of your own local churches and how you fit into the body of Christ.  Would love your comments and dialogue!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Seeker Movement: Building On The Sand

     In the video clip below, R. C. Sproul and Al Mohler discuss briefly the shaky foundation of the "seeker-sensitive" movement.  This movement takes various forms in the contemporary American evangelical church scene (gaining ground through subtlety, poor leadership in the church, and gross biblical ignorance) and continues to wreak great havoc on the church.  Dr. Sproul correctly points to 2 tragic errors that characterize this misguided approach to ministry:
     1.     That unbelievers are desperately seeking God (I'll do a biblical refutation of this premise soon).
     2.     That the purpose of corporate worship is to reach the lost rather than to please God.
     Borrowing effectively from Thomas Aquinas, Sproul mentions that in Aquinas' day (mid-13th century) people were certainly seeking what God can give but were not after God Himself.  This seeking of "the good life" without repentance and faith in Christ is the order of things apart from regeneration of the Spirit.  At the typical "seeker" church, a congregant is met according to these "felt needs" rather than what he truly needs . . . the truth of the whole counsel of God's Word and the preaching of repentance and faith in Jesus' shed blood for the remission of sins.
     Dr. Mohler hits the nail on the head when he asserts that church leaders in this movement rarely (if ever) get to the gospel.  Seeker message content (note I didn't say "sermon" or "preaching") is likely to include topics like: Better Parenting, Being a Loyal Friend, Getting Your Finances In Order, Weight Control and Nutrition (more on this soon from Rick Warren's/Saddleback Church "Daniel Plan"), Innovative Leadership, etc. etc.  Notice who the message is about!  God is portrayed like a cosmic bellhop/life coach to make sure we are healthy, happy, wise, and fulfilled in the "seeker" model.
     It is a sad state of the visible church when pastor-teachers forsake their biblical mandate and capitulate to this ungodly methodology.  It is a sadder state when God's people are forced out the back door of these churches (often times after being labeled "divisive" by church leaders) as long as 3x as many "seekers" are coming through the front door.
     As Sproul mentions, the antidote is not complicated but reflects a strong need for solid expository preaching from the Word of God.  So called "seekers" do not need to hear more about their selfish "felt needs" but need clear presentations of the gospel message of repentance and faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ from all the Scripture.