Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mark Galli Interviews Michael Horton on the Gospel Driven Life

There's an excellent interview with Michael Horton by Mark Galli at Christianity Today. I am becoming more and more convinced that the law/gospel distinction is important (Although see the review of Horton's book Christless Christianity by John Frame here and his own discussion of the law/gospel distinction with several caveats here). Here is just the first part of the interview:

"What is at the core of the temptation to practice a Christless Christianity?

When the emphasis becomes human-centered rather than God-centered. In more conservative contexts, you hear it as exhortation: 'These are God's commandments. The culture is slipping away from us. We have to recover it, and you play a role. Is your life matching up to what God calls us to?' Of course there is a place for that, but it seems to be the dominant emphasis.

Then there is the therapeutic approach: 'You can be happier if you follow God's principles.' All of this is said with a smile, but it's still imperative. It's still about techniques and principles for you to follow in order to have your best life now.

In both cases, it's law rather than gospel. I don't even know when I walk into a church that says it's Bible-believing that I'm actually going to hear an exposition of Scripture with Christ at the center, or whether I'm going to hear about how I should 'dare to be a Daniel.' The question is not whether we have imperatives in Scripture. The question is whether the imperatives are all we are getting, because people assume we already know the gospel—and we don't.

But aren't many churches doing good preaching about how to improve your marriage, transform your life, and serve the poor?

The question is whether this is the Good News. There is nothing wrong with law, but law isn't gospel. The gospel isn't 'Follow Jesus' example' or 'Transform your life' or 'How to raise good children.' The gospel is: Jesus Christ came to save sinners—even bad parents, even lousy followers of Jesus, which we all are on our best days. All of the emphasis falls on 'What would Jesus do?' rather than 'What has Jesus done?'

Why is this such a temptation for the church?

It's our default setting. No one has to be taught to trust in themselves. No one has to be taught that what you experience inside yourself is more authoritative than what comes to you externally, even if it comes from God. Since the Fall, it has been part of our character to look within ourselves. And it is part of our inherent Pelagianism to think we can save ourselves by following the right instructions.

In such a therapeutic, pragmatic, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps society as ours, the message of God having to do all the work in saving us comes as an offensive shot at our egos. In this culture, religion is all about being good, about the horizontal, about loving God and neighbor. All of that is the fruit of the gospel. The gospel has nothing to do with what I do. The gospel is entirely a message about what someone else has done not only for me but also for the renewal of the whole creation."

During the interview Galli references an article by Lisa Miller of Newsweek called "We Are All Hindus Now." Galli says that Miller "acknowledges that, of course, most Americans aren't practicing Hindus. But she appeals to various surveys to show that most Christians, including many evangelicals, embrace more Hindu tenets than Christian ones." This is the natural result of exalting orthopraxy (right behavior) over orthodoxy (right beliefs). It cannot be emphasized enough: beliefs have consequences.

Michael Horton is the author of Christless Christianity the The Gospel Driven Life.


Scripture Zealot said...

This is great. Thank you for posting it.

Louis said...


You're welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed it.