When I Hate Michael Horton

Ok, I don’t hate the guy. In fact, I love him and love what he writes. It is, however, hard to swallow sometimes – you just don’t want it to be true. But it probably is (he’s kinda like David Wells that way). Yesterday I started his newest book Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church. The title says it all. Let me give you a taste and then I’ll let you know what he has spurred me on to this summer.

“I think that the church in America today is so obsessed with being practical, relevant, helpful, successful, and perhaps even well liked tht it nearly mirrors the world itself. Aside from the packaging, there is nothing that cannot be found in most churches today that could not be satisfied by any number of secular programs and self help groups.”

“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.”

” I do not question the sincerity of those who say that we have the correct doctrine but are not living it out. Rather, I simply do not agree with their assessment. I think our doctrine has been forgotten, assumed, ignored, and even misshaped and distorted by the habits and rituals of daily life in a narcissistic culture.”

Ok, last quote – one that spurred me on to action! ” In the following chapters I offer statistics supporting the remarkable conclusion that those who are raised in ‘Bible believing’ churches know as little of the Bible’s actual content as their unchurched neighbors.” When Caleb was 2-3 years old, we were telling him Bible stories all the time. He could tell you what city Jonah was running away from and where he ran too. We were diligent. Unfortunately, when Jake came, we got busier and less diligent. Then there came Luke. This past school year we read Mark and Acts with the boys before school, but we haven’t been good helping them learn the stories and the main plotline of the Bible. So, this summer is a summer of stories with the boys.

Here’s what we want to try and do: each week we’re picking an event/character in the Bible. During that week we’ll read/tell the great stories. Lynn is actually thinking about things she can do with the boys to reinforce what were talking about. My project for Friday is to outline the summer. I’ll let you know what I come up with (and would love your suggestions!).

4 thoughts on “When I Hate Michael Horton

  1. My personal favorite story in the Old Testament is Jehoshaphat versus the army of Edom, II Chronicles Chapter Twenty. Always reminds me that the victory is not mine and neither is the battle.

  2. Harold Bloom wrote a book, "The American Religion," with a similar thesis (though a bit more extreme–Bloom claims all Americans are Gnostics, not Christians at all). I'd really like to read Horton's book, it looks right on the money, from your summary.

  3. Horton makes the similar claim – we're gnostics, and adds that we're also Pelagian (at best semi-Pelagian). I'm only a hundred pages in (roughly 1/3 of the book) and it's been tough going. Depressing, but right.

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