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Christless Christianity [Hardcover]

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Item Number 281487  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   270
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.88" Width: 5.75" Height: 0.98"
Weight:   0.97 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2008
Publisher   Baker Publishing Group
ISBN  0801013186  
EAN  9780801013188  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
A Prophetic Wake-up Call for the American Church

Is it possible that we have left Christ out of Christianity? Are the faith and practice of American Christians today more American than Christian? Have we allowed the church to be taken captive to the prevailing culture? These are the provocative questions Michael Horton addresses in this thoughtful, insightful book. His analysis should give us pause as we consider the current state of Christianity--even evangelical Christianity--in America.

Publishers Description
Is it possible that we have left Christ out of Christianity? Is the faith and practice of American Christians today more American than Christian? These are the provocative questions Michael Horton addresses in this thoughtful, insightful book. He argues that while 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.

Buy Christless Christianity by Michael Horton from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780801013188 & 0801013186

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More About Michael Horton

Michael Horton 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.

Michael Horton has published or released items in the following series...
  1. 9marks: Building Healthy Churches
  2. Emergent Ys (Paperback)
  3. Theologians on the Christian Life

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General   [6817  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General   [8607  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
No more excuses for the American Church  May 5, 2010
This is a hard-hitting wake-up call for those of us in the American Church. Horton, a professor of systematic theology and apologetics at Westminster Seminary California, essentially dismantles what passes for theology at most evangelical churches in this country.

While he does confront the errors of "pop theology" movements such as the "Word-Faith" or "Prosperity Gospel" of Kenneth Copeland and Joel Osteen, and the "seeker-sensitive" or "Emergent Church" of guys like Brian McLaren, his harshest criticism is reserved for those of us who attend conservative evangelical churches. His primary argument "is not that evangelicalism is becoming theologically liberal, but that it is becoming theologically vacuous". In other words, it doesn't take a great heresy to lead the Church into apostasy. All that is necessary to make the Church ineffective is for Satan to succeed in de-emphasizing the centrality of Christ in our churches. Horton's argument is that the vast majority of churches follow a "flavor of the moment" mentality, emphasizing programs, political activism, and social work -- in and of themselves all admirable undertakings -- at the expense of the preaching and understanding of God's Word. This leads to a lack of discernment among professing believers, leaving many unable to even tell the difference between sound doctrine and heresy.

This is not to say that this book is merely a collection of criticisms. After all, anyone can identify problems. What is needed are visionaries who offer solutions. This is the purpose of the final chapter in the book, in which Horton calls for the Church-at-large as well as individual church congregations to recommit themselves to theology, and, most of all, to the power of Christ and the Word. After all, it is the Word of God that equips us for good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Still, read by itself, this book is long on critique and short on solutions. However, Horton wrote in the introduction that this would be the case, as this book is actually part one of a two-book effort in this area. Its counterpart, "The Gospel-Driven Life", is entirely solution oriented, giving direction for those who, like Horton, do not believe that the Church has already arrived at "Christless Christianity", and that reformation is not only possible, but imperative. I hope to offer a review of this second book in the next month or two.

All in all, this is a great read, though you should be prepared to be convicted by it. I certainly was!
Painful at times, but poignant  Jan 30, 2010
Christless Christianity is Michael Horton's diagnosis and prognosis of the state of the Christian church in America. Going into painful detail, he presses in on the places where the church has shifted its focus from God's activity to ours, from Christ as Savior to Christ as coach, from the transforming Good News to our own transformed lives.

Horton says that our narcissism has taken the form of what has been coined "moralistic, therapeutic deism", but he suggests that, at its core, it is simply a repackaged Pelagianism. He calls it "the default setting of the human heart: the religion of self-salvation".

While Horton seems uncomfortably spot on through much of the book, I imagine every reader will find a critique with which they might disagree (or in the case of the fans of Joel Osteen, an entire chapter). Also placed under the microscope are the Emergent Church, fundamentalism and the religious left and right, but his diagnosis is so often returning to the Gospel message that it is hard to argue against it.

While Michael's writing style flows well and moves at a good pace, there was one thing that made this book a slightly harder read: 260 pages were broken up between only seven chapters. I know this is a bit of a juvenile complaint, but long chapters just make a book feel longer.

Christless Christianity is sharp critique of the state of the modern church, and I imagine that no one can walk away from this book perfectly unscathed. However, it is well-reasoned and -argued, and the cuts it makes seem to be the necessary and precise cuts of a surgeon.
Evangelicalism: Defined and Exhorted  Jan 12, 2010
In "Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church" biblical scholar Michael Horton defines Evangelicalism and energetically urges Christians to hold firm to the "faith once for all delivered unto the saints." Horton furnishes a fine historical overview of Evangelical thought as he contends for the truth found in scripture as rightly summarized and outlined in Evangelical creeds and confessions. The author presses the church to draw its professions from scripture as he exegetes and sketches-out the doctrinal application of the Law and the Gospel. Furthermore he stresses the church's need of the content and power of the gospel forasmuch as man-centered religion fails to deliver that which men must have to be accpeted by God.

So much modern American evangelical expression lacks a focus on Jesus Christ and that's one significant reason the author calls the church back to the Redeemer.

Dr. Horton (Westminster Seminary professor) in this volume advocates:

- Building a foundation upon biblical doctrine centered on the person and work of Christ
- Rejecting Self-help religion because it is not Christianity
- The ever-persisting consequence, implication, importance, and necessity of Christian truth.

In this fairly large but readable volume (272 pages) Horton offers an educational and nourishing defense and proclamation of Evangelical truth with clarity and power.
There Are Moral Absolutes: How to Be Absolutely Sure That Christianity Alone Supplies
Solution to the Problem  Jan 1, 2010
The solution to this problem is challenging and then training "christians" to become personally involved in directly studying the whole Bible for what it intends and what it says, instead of studying ABOUT the Bible or selecting out of context what we want the bible to say.

Unfortunately, this is antithetical to the feministic, touchy/feely culture that we presently live in, where thinking is out, truth is relative, and selfishness (not-so-cleverly-disguised as "feelings") is the soup of the day.

People, until they encounter trouble, don't want to do the work of personal and direct study. And the "church" is far more concerned with the size of the "congregation" and the appearance of the property, than challenging people to do what will truly make a difference - exert effort to learn, understand, and do what the Bible says.
Was John Frame's Review of Christless Christianity On Target?  Nov 27, 2009
Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church by Michael Horton is a book that slipped by me. I read several good reviews. I saw it in the bookstore.

But because I am an avid listener of Horton's radio show, The White Horse Inn, I thought I would be already (overly, perhaps) familiar with the gist of the book. So my attention was diverted elsewhere.

Then, several weeks ago, John Frame, professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, wrote a scathing review of the book. Frame devoted so many pages to debunking Horton's thesis that I became very intrigued. What is up with this book that it would cause such consternation from someone who agrees with Horton in so many areas?

So I decided to pick up the book for myself. It is always a dangerous thing to read a book after you've read an extensive review. There is always the possibility you will see the book through the eyes of the reviewer and not be fair to the author. But in this case, I think Frame's review (though helpful in some respects) is unfairly tilted against Horton. After having read it for myself, I believe Horton's book deserves careful consideration by all who are concerned about the current direction of evangelicalism.

Christless Christianity can best be described as "prophetic." It is a wake-up call to the American church to shake off the slumber of consumerist complacency. It is a rallying cry to put Jesus back in the center of our preaching, worship, and devotion.

Because Horton's work is prophetic, he occasionally makes judgments that may be too sweeping (as he himself admits [27]). But criticizing him for occasional generalizations is like taking Isaiah to task for condemning Israel's false worship. Come on, Isaiah! Surely you don't mean that all our offerings are in vain? The nature of a prophetic book is to passionately call people to renewed faith, and Horton fulfills this role admirably.

Horton does not accuse all Americans of denying the faith. Instead, he warns against being so distracted that we miss the essence of the gospel. We are inclined to turn in on ourselves and tell our stories rather than Christ's. We make worship about our needs rather than his glory. We make salvation about self-fulfillment rather than rescue from sin and its punishment.

Those who are familiar with Horton's work will not find any surprises in Christless Christianity. But nowhere else will you find such a well-written critique of the American evangelical church.

The chapter on Joel Osteen - "Smooth Talking and Christless Christianity" - is the single best treatment of Osteen's theological outlook that has been written. Horton's chapter on Osteen is so devastating that it's like bringing out a bulldozer to displace a stone, or a high-powered fan to move a feather.

Frame was right to point out that there are places where Horton might swing the pendulum too far. Horton's assertion that "Christianity is not a worldview, a way of life, or a program for personal and societal change; it is a gospel" (105) is too restrictive. It is true that the gospel is not a worldview or way of life, but Christianity is indeed a way of seeing the world. The gospel message itself makes little sense unless placed within the broader, biblical framework ("worldview") in which it is announced.

In another section, Horton declares that "the worst thing that can happen to the church is confuse law and gospel" (122). While confusing the theological categories of law and gospel can indeed by dangerous, is this the worst thing that can happen? If so, why did Paul not specifically warn against this confusion of categories in Scripture?

Horton's separation of law and gospel leads him to say that "any form of doing the gospel is a confusion of categories." And yet, Paul himself speaks of "obeying the gospel" (Rom. 10:16; 2 Thess. 1:8). So does Peter (1 Pet. 4:17). Horton's exhortation to carefully distinguish between law and gospel is good. But sometimes he creates such a dichotomy between the indicative and imperative that the complexity of the New Testament texts are flattened.

These quibbles aside, Christless Christianity is well worth your time. Horton is at his best when he is not only demonstrating where we are wrong, but where we should be right. One reason I have always admired Horton is that he recognizes temptations within his own theological tradition.

"Our temptation as Reformed Christians is to pride ourselves on bearing the marks of a true church regardless of whether people actually being added to the church," he writes. (197)

He is absolutely right to insist that "without the marks, the mission is blind; without the mission, the marks are dead" (205).

In the end, Frame's review strikes me as too sweeping (and surprisingly personal). Horton's book, on the other hand, is strong medicine for a sick church. We need to heed many of his warnings if we are to be faithful to the gospel.

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