I highly recommend Michael Horton’s new book, The Gospel-Driven Life, which is his sequel to last year’s Christless Christianity. That book analyzed the problem with our evangelical churches and this one presents his solution. Horton’s main point in both books is that the gospel is something that God does to and for us rather than a to-do list which we accomplish. He reminds us that we must be Augustinian in our theology rather than succumb to the Pelagianism of therapeutic, self-help moralism.
The latter appears in our preaching, when we focus on what we must do rather than what God has already done; in our testimonies, when we recount the details of our past month rather than the redemptive events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection; and in our observance of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, when these become merely our witness to our faith rather than signs from God that seal and nourish our faith. Horton reminds us that the gospel is good news, not a good job. It is something that we receive, not achieve.
Along the way, and on a slightly different subject, Horton drops this quote from Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, which is as applicable to some postmoderns as it was to his original modern target (p. 33, 34):
“But what we suffer from to-day is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled on the organ of conviction, where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert—himself.”
“We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table…. Scoffers of old time were too proud to be convinced; but these are too humble to be convinced.”
What a classic zinger: “Too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table!” I think I’ve met some of these people. And now I know why our conversations never really add up!