More “Christian” Atheism: Michael Horton’s “Are Churches Secularizing America?”

19 12 2011

Several years ago, a mainline theologian told me of his experience at an evangelical megachurch. He was visiting his children and grandchildren during spring break and then Easter Sunday arrived. Nothing visibly suggested that it was a Christian service, but this distinguished theologian tried to reign in his judgments. There was no greeting from God or sense that this was God’s gathering. The songs were almost exclusively about us, our feelings, and our intentions to worship, obey, and love; but it was not clear whom they were talking about or why. He concluded, “Well, evangelicals don’t really have a liturgy. They put all of the content into the sermon, so I’ll wait.”

His patience, however, was not rewarded. Although it was Easter, the message (with no clear text) was on how Jesus gives us the strength to overcome our obstacles. Lacking even a benediction, this theologian left discouraged. He had come to an evangelical church at Easter and instead of meeting God and the announcement of a real victory over sin and death by Jesus Christ, he encountered other Christians who were being given fellowship and instructions for making their own “Easter” come true in their life.

Pressed with leading questions by his son-in-law as to his reaction to the service (like, “Did it touch your heart?”), the theologian broke his silence: “I assume you’re trying to ‘evangelize’ me right now,” he said. “But there was no ‘gospel’ anywhere in that service that might convert me if I were unconverted.” He concluded, “Not even in the most liberal churches I’ve been in was the service so devoid of Christ and the gospel. It’s like ‘God who?’” Read the rest of this entry »