I use to always think that Mega-Churches were the coolest thing! I didn’t realize it at the time, but the feel-good, relative message that they proclaimed, with a dash of scripture, would become the thing I would start to despise. Jesus said, that man does not eat on bread alone. Knowing this, It’s becoming more and more clear to me how very messed up our churches are; together as a whole bunch who share Christian faith. I am finding that there is allot being written by many well know pastors about how The Gospel of Jesus and the true authentic, expository teachings of the Bible are found less and less in our American churches, and how all people want now a days is what one pastor calls” a sermon to go”. Just let me come to church, get a feel good message, O.K. I’ll even let you talk about Jesus and quote a few scriptures if you like, but don’t start convicting me, b/c I’ll be out of here, with my tithe, and I won’t come back! You may think I am over-exaggerating a bit, but if you go over to Amazon and search around on the subject of say, church relativism, Christ-less, Christianity, mega-churches, alternative gospel in churches and the like, you’ll be amazed of how many book have been written on this subject. It’s good that it is being address, but also very scary that it is such a huge problem, and very sad that this is where we seem to be going more and more. I wonder if too, this is why so many other religions such as Islam are on the rise. Perhaps, and this is just my opinion, is that they hold true to their roots and their traditions on what their religion was founded on; where American Churches strive to water down the gospel to a feel-good, pop-culture, relative message, so they can increase their tribe, so to speak. I myself just picked up a book called Christ-less Christianity by Michael Horton, and I will be sharing what I find. It goes something like this :
From Publishers Weekly
In another screed on what’s wrong with American Christianity, theology professor Horton, of Westminster Seminary California, bemoans the slide of the American Christian church into what he, and others, call a moralistic, therapeutic deism. Drawing on studies, surveys and anecdotal evidence, Horton reaches the oft-repeated conclusion that American Christianity is self-centered rather than Christ-centered, Jesus is a life coach rather than a redeemer, and salvation is focused on therapeutic well-being. He rants against the purveyors of this watered-down Christianity–Robert Schuller, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer–but saves his most savage attack for megachurch preacher Joel Osteen, whom Horton depicts as a snake-oil salesman teaching that God is a personal shopper ready to deliver happiness and prosperity if only individuals let God know their needs. Horton reveals his lack of theological depth when he argues that ancient Gnostics saw God as no different from humans. Yet Gnosticism’s entire point is this difference. Horton regrettably offers no recommendation for the reformation of American Christianity beyond a simplistic call to let the church be defined by the Gospel rather than the laws of the market. (Nov.)
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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.
Now if that doesn’t get your attention, I don’t know what will. It will definitely be eye-opening to be learning more about this; and it made me ponder how this is probably very much intertwined with my recent posts on Unity in the Body of Christ. As I started reading this book, God pointed out to me that because we are getting so relative, we are being deceived that there needs to be some type of relative/Biblical balance; but what it is really doing is making us weaker in our faith. We can even try and go out and do the work of the Lord in our communities and do our best to meet the needs of the less fortunate; but if we don’t have our roots in what is Biblical and true, then are we well equipped to really share the Love of Christ with others if our hearts are not focused completely on God at all times? Watering down the gospel waters down our core traditions, our core doctrine, our cor faith on a personal and church level. I think this may be why we are getting less united and more divided too; our individualism and relativism of the Truth of Jesus is what Satan is using to distract us from learning and thirsting for The True Word of God. It happens so suddely, we don’t even realize it sometimes. We think we’re getting ahead, but if we were to really examine where we are in complete, continual surrender to the will of God in our life and to transform our hearts into Christ-likeness, I fear many would not be able to say much about that. If we’re not hungering and thirsting after righteousness, then really we are dying, and Satan is winning. Scary thought, huh? I always think about what Tommy Tenny was trying to say in God Chasers; that people come hungry to our churches and all we end up giving them are maybe a few crumbs off the carpet. (In my own defense, I am not a fan of Tenny, but He does makes some, not all, good points in the book, God Chasers). This thought has really made me sit back and think about the church in recent years. I imagine that this will be a pretty interesting discussion as I post my review. I hope that you will join me in the discussion and the learning process of this very crucialproblem that we are facing more and more in our churches. God forgive us for selling you down the river just so we can remain comfortable in our own strength! I also hope every pastor that preaches to a congregation will consider reading this book, and take seriously the slippery slope we are sliding down.