Michael Horton says we need to once again let our lives and churches be driven by the gospel. Interview by Mark Galli Despite the title of one of his recent books, Michael Horton doesn't believe the American church embodies Christless Christianity. But he is convinced that we are sorely tempted by it. So he has written two books—Christless Christianity and The Gospel-Driven Life (both with Baker Books)—to outline the problem and articulate the solution.
Horton is a professor of systematic theology and apologetics at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California, and the author of many books (as well as the ghost writer for John Calvin's Christianity Today column this year). CT senior managing editor Mark Galli recently spoke with Horton about the concerns raised in his latest books.
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 ...