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Christless Christianity

 

Q: A visitor to our site writes: "In the Wide is the Gate 2 trailer (if you start around 2 minutes 51 seconds mark it will soon appear), Michael Horton's book, Christless Christianity, appears. I had contacted you because I have that book and read it years ago. While I remember very little, I do remember coming away from the book remembering that Horton was right on in his acknowledgement that Christ is being left out of the "Christianity". Horton was calling us to Christ and steering us away from this Christless Christianity. I recall some minor points that I was unsure about, but nothing in the realm of heretical or anti-Gospel. I remember being grateful that his book was out there. So naturally when I saw your trailer (as I appreciate the work you do) I was taken aback. My conclusion was that either a.) I did not read the book carefully enough and have matured since, therefore I need to be aware of the heresy that I missed the first go around or b.) that it was a mistake to have included it in the trailer (as the name and subtitle could lead one to believe it was a heretical book), therefore it would need to be removed. I don't know much about Michael Horton other than several people who speak out about false teachers and emergents seem to esteem him and his book. I know at one time there was a temporary controversy because of Rick Warren, but from my research of postings and audio, Horton definitely explained himself. If there is something heretical about Horton's teaching/book, then it should certainly be included in the documentary. However, if he is a true brother, I'm sure you would want to remove him from the film."

A: Caryl's response: In our Trailer for Volume 2 various guests being interviewed are discussing dangers in the church and explaining that Biblical Christianity is being sabotaged, re-imaged and rearranged with worldly goals by heretics, heresy, and "churched" or "christian teachers" coming in the name of Christ. At one point author Warren Smith says, "we have a very clever adversary who knows how to redefine and reinvent the Christian faith". At that point a visual of Michael Horton's book comes up with the title Christless Christianity, the subtitle of the book is "The Alternative Gospel of the American Church". The graphic is not being used because Michael Horton is necessarily a false teacher, but rather the visual explains what Warren Smith is saying. In his book Horton also claims some of the same problems happening in the Church today as our DVD Wide Is the Gate portrays. Warren Smith continues "That's what we're watching happen right before our very eyes". Horton's book also explains the problem we see happening right before our very eyes.

In Tim Challies Discerning Reader review he explains Horton's position:

"I am not arguing in this book that we have arrived at Christless Christianity," says Horton, "but that we are well on our way. ... My concern is that we are getting dangerously close to the place in everyday American church life where the Bible is mined for 'relevant' quotes but is largely irrelevant on its own terms; God is used as a personal resource rather than known, worshiped and trusted; Jesus Christ is a coach with a good game plan for our victory rather than a Savior who has already achieved it for us; salvation is more a matter of having our best life now than being saved from God's judgment by God himself; and the Holy Spirit is an electrical outlet we can plug into for the power we need to be all that we can be." Jesus has become supplemental instead of instrumental to the church. As the church has focused on "deeds, not creeds" she has become increasingly irrelevant and unfaithful. Church has become just another area in which Americans can live out the American dream. In my view, we are living out our creed, but that creed is closer to the American Dream than it is to the Christian faith. The claim I am laying out in this book is that the most dominant form of Christianity today reflects 'a zeal for God' that is nevertheless without knowledge--particularly, as Paul himself specifies, the knowledge of God's justification of the wicked by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, apart from works." (source: http://www.discerningreader.com/book-reviews/christless-christianity)

For more reading about Horton's book, John M. Frame writes a review here: http://www.frame-poythress.org/frame_articles/2009Horton.htm

P.S. Horton's insights about "the Holy Spirit is an electrical outlet we can plug into for the power we need to be all that we can be" is the sad but pervading theology being furthered in the growing apostate church moving through Charismatic and Pentecostals and is a subject being developed in Volume 3 of Wide is The Gate: The Emerging New Christianity.

This last of the multi-series will explain the pitfalls, contrasted with Biblical teaching, being forwarded by the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and Prophetic Movements which are growing exponentially within the Christian culture today across the world, promoted through such multi-media marketing tools as God TV, extravaganza Christian concerts and conferences.

These platforms, and others like the Elijah List (an internet outreach), further NAR heresies and extra-Biblical revelations and experiences taught by itinerant NAR celebrities who are spreading their false teachings to millions of innocent gullible Christians who aren't testing their experiences against the Word of God, as we're commanded to do in the Bible.

These so-called self-appointed Apostles and Prophets elevate their "revelations", signs and wonders and error packed teachings above the accountability of the Word of God, demonizing any who dare to test these "anointed of God" men and women. They name-call their critics to be a "Jezebel spirit", which is the spirit of Jezebel in the Old Testament: she attacked the king, who today's self-appointed apostles suppose themselves to be, and Jezebel sought to control the prophet which today self-appointed prophets see to be a negative, critical spirit against any who attempt to correct them using God's Word. They also accuse those who test them against Scripture as a "Judas spirit" because Judas betrayed Christ, or a "Pharisee" because they were critical of Jesus Christ.
However, Scripture instructs the Christian not to believe every spirit, but to "test the spirits, whether they be of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). Paul considered the Bereans to be more noble and fair minded than those in Thessalonica because "they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily [to find out] whether these things were so". (Acts 17:11) Scripture commends us for checking all teachings of all claiming to be Christians, even Christian celebrities, against what the Word of God teaches, indeed we are commanded to make these judgements which are from God's heart and opinions.


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