Author: Dr. Michael Horton
Page Count: 240
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. (more…)
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?
- Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin; A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith by Robert L. Reymond; Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem – I plan to teach a course on Systematic Theology beginning this year and these are among my primary sources. I also plan on utilizing the classic Reformed confessions and Thomas Watson’s A Body of Divinity and The Ten Commandments.
- 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: (more…)
“The gospel of Satan is not a system of revolutionary principles, nor yet a program of anarchy. It does not promote strife and war, but aims at peace and unity. It seeks not to set the mother against her daughter nor the father against his son, but fosters the fraternal spirit whereby the human race is regarded as one great ‘brotherhood.’ It does not seek to drag down the natural man, but to improve and uplift him. It advocates education and cultivation and appeals to ‘the best that is within us.’ It aims to make this world such a comfortable and congenial habitat that Christ’s absence from it will not be felt and God will not be needed.” –A.W. Pink
As I prepared to post this I was reminded of a similar quote from a recent article by Dr. Michael Horton entitled ‘Christless Christianity: Getting in Christ’s Way’ originally published in the May/June 07 issue of Modern Reformation magazine. (more…)
Joel Osteen’s much anticipated new book has just recently hit store shelves, promising seven keys to improving yourself. Those who may still be unfamiliar with Osteen may glance at his book on display in the mall and think, “Oh, another self-help book by one of those slick motivational speakers.” It might surprise them to find out he actually is the Pastor/Shepherd of the nation’s largest flock of professing Christian believers at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. Don’t worry, many discerning Christians who have listened to or read any of his works are equally surprised that he calls himself a Pastor. Joel Osteen has never attended seminary nor has he studied theology. He doesn’t truly teach or preach. By his own admission, these traits are not his gifting! He spends his time behind the podium exhorting and encouraging. So, what’s wrong with that? I’ll let Dr. Michael Horton of Westminster Seminary California and host of the White Horse Inn radio broadcast explain in this excellent article reviewing Become a Better You. Here is an excerpt:
It is indeed true that there are appeals to the Bible scattered throughout this book. However, in nearly every case a verse is either torn from its context and turned into a “fortune-cookie” kind of promise that one can name-and-claim for oneself or it is actually misquoted to serve Osteen’s point. For example, we read that when God confronted Adam and Eve after their sin, “He said, ‘Adam, who told you that you were naked?’ In other words, ‘Who told you that something was wrong with you?’ God immediately knew the enemy had been talking to them. God is saying to you today, ‘Who told you that you don’t have what it takes to succeed?’”3 Where, in the passage he refers to (Genesis 3:11), God asks Adam this question in order to convict him of his sin, Osteen makes it sound as if it were Satan who told Adam that he had failed the test. As in his earlier book, Osteen here never speaks of sin as falling short of God’s glory, but of falling short of God’s best for your life. In fact, Osteen’s attachment to the prosperity gospel is even more explicit in Become a Better You. Just as Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, and other “faith teachers” speak of believers as “little gods” who share God’s nature, Osteen has an entire chapter devoted to “The Power of Your Bloodline.” “You have the DNA of Almighty God.”4 It’s “what’s in you” that is divine seed, he says.5 It is not that God has imputed Christ’s righteousness to us and adopted us as his children. We are not saved by an external and alien righteousness, but by an internal and essential righteousness that belongs to us simply by virtue of our being created in his image. Therefore, throughout the book Osteen can address all of his readers as semi-divine without any reference to faith in Christ.