Christless Christianity

Title: Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church

Author: Dr. Michael Horton

Publisher: Baker

Page Count: 240

Readability: Moderate

Synopsis: Dr. Horton diagnoses the core problem with modern evangelicalism:  The drifting away from gospel preaching, centering on the person and work of Jesus Christ, toward the embracing of a therapeutic moralistic deism that puts man and his perceived wants and needs first and relegates God to a reactive spectator. Many of today’s preachers define God as the genie in the bottle who meets all our needs where we are at and not the Great judge who makes all of his creatures account for every deed done in the flesh – whether good or evil. God is portrayed as unequivocally benevolent.  He’s the ultimate good guy who’s on our side and only wants the best for all his children, whether they are gathered in or gone astray. The good news of the gospel is trivialized since sin and judgment are marginalized to the fringes of Christian belief and experience. The contemporary preacher doesn’t teach that man is a sinner in need of forgiveness, but an imperfect soul struggling to live right and receive God’s material blessings. Continue reading

Essential Easter Reading

In preparation for serious reflection upon the Lord’s cross and his victorious resurrection from the dead many Christian faith traditions practice Lent.  Lent, in essence, is a period of time set aside by worshipers to reflect upon the significance and magnitude of Christ’s cross work in light of their desperate need for grace, mercy and forgiveness. The observance of Lent is usually accompanied by fasting, prayer, mourning, self-denial and repenting over sin.

As a Christian practicing his faith in the sphere of Baptist tradition, Lent is typically frowned upon, so I’ve never participated in it.  However, I must admit, that I’m not totally opposed to such practices on the condition that reflection upon our sin, Christ’s cross, fervent prayer and a holy lifestyle of self-denial aren’t solely practiced only within the limited confines of the 40 days of Lent. We as Christians should keep these sacred truths close to our hearts at all times, especially every time we sit down at the Lord’s Supper.

In recent years I’ve seen the wisdom in setting aside and sanctifying a period of time for serious reflection upon the glorious cross of Christ and subsequent conquering of death, hell and the grave.  For those not comfortable with the idea of participating in Lent, perhaps I can offer an acceptable alternative.  I highly recommend reading a couple of short books on the passion, purpose and application of Christ’ sacrifice on the cross.  These books are brief with short, succinct chapters that can be read as a devotion everyday over the course of the month preceding Easter Sunday.

The first book is titled: The Cross he Bore by Frederick S. Leahy.  The second is titled: The Truth of the Cross by RC Sproul. Below I’ll post a review of each, including a list of the chapters contained in each volume. Continue reading

Crook in the Lot

Title: Crook in the Lot

Author: Thomas Boston

Publisher: Christian Heritage

Page Count: 195

Readability: Moderate

Genre: Christian Living

Synopsis: Boston sets out to demonstrate that all of life’s pain and suffering experienced by Christians is ultimately ordained for our good by an absolutely sovereign and loving God.  The term ‘crook in the lot’ is a biblical reference Boston uses as the main text for his work.  The scripture is taken from the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 17, verse 13: Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked. Continue reading

Year End Book Review – Part 2

Title: The Chronicles of Narnia (All seven volumes). The Magician’s Nephew; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; The Horse and His Boy; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Silver Chair; The Last Battle.

Author: C.S. Lewis

Publisher: HarperCollins

Page Count: 767

Readability: Easy

Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: A fictional series based in the mythical land of Narnia where animals talk, witches loom, magic flourishes and lions reign.  It is a place where men coexist with centaurs, minotaurs, dwarves and fauns.  C.S. Lewis pens seven volumes primarily following the adventures of the four Pevensie children: Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmund as they discover a portal to a wondrous new world at the back of a wardrobe.  Many people call Lewis’ work a Christian allegory but that’s not quite accurate. Not every figure and event represents an element of the Christian life.  I’ve read that Lewis approached his books by asking the question, “What would Jesus Christ be like in a world like Narnia?”  The answer, of course, comes in the form of Aslan, the noble lion who directs all things according to the counsel of his own will.  Chronicles is not allegory but is full of biblical allusions.  The Chronicles of Narnia was written for children, but can (and should) be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Kudos/Knocks:  Lewis is a true joy to read and even children should not have much trouble tackling these volumes for themselves.  Narnia is an enchanted place that every reader will long to visit.  I enjoyed every volume, but some more than others. Below I will list all seven books in order from most loved to least loved, with a few words about each. Continue reading

Year End Book Review – Part 1

I love to read.  However, I am not a speedy reader.  Christian bloggers such as Tim Challies can knock down a hundred or so books a year – and manage to to review them all, but I’m lucky if I read a dozen.  Accordingly, I can lump all my reviews for the past year’s reading into a couple of manageable posts.  Let me first begin with all the books I have my hooks into but have not yet finished.

Books in Progress

  • Lectures to My Students by Charles Haddon Spurgeon – I put this one down last Christmas because of the influx of new books I received and was eager to tear into.  Spurgeon gives some timeless wisdom for all prospective preachers and pastors in this wonderful volume. Though I’m not likely to get into full-time ministry, I found his knowledge insightful and useful, even for a simple Christian layman.  I definitely will pick this one back up.
  • The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by John Owen – Maybe the most difficult volume I’ve ever attempted to read.  I grew exhausted about halfway through, though I actually did learn much from his treatise on Christ’s Particular Redemption of the elect.  I have since read other works by Owen, carried along by a little helpful editing and modernization of the text that I found very readable.  Is there a version of Death of Death similar to Justin Taylor’s and Kelly M. Kapic’s wonderful Overcoming Sin and Temptation?
  • The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller – Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.  He boasts nearly six thousand attendees in the very heart of Vanity Fair. This book is an Apologetic treatise answering seven of the most difficult questions non-believers pose about God and the Christian faith.  It then delves into the reasons for faith in the one true God.  I’m only a quarter the way through but so far this is one outstanding read.

On to the Reviews: Continue reading