From Publishers Weekly
In another screed on what's wrong with American Christianity, theology professor Horton, of Westminster Seminary California, bemoans the slide of the American Christian church into what he, and others, call a moralistic, therapeutic deism. Drawing on studies, surveys and anecdotal evidence, Horton reaches the oft-repeated conclusion that American Christianity is self-centered rather than Christ-centered, Jesus is a life coach rather than a redeemer, and salvation is focused on therapeutic well-being. He rants against the purveyors of this watered-down Christianity--Robert Schuller, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer--but saves his most savage attack for megachurch preacher Joel Osteen, whom Horton depicts as a snake-oil salesman teaching that God is a personal shopper ready to deliver happiness and prosperity if only individuals let God know their needs. Horton reveals his lack of theological depth when he argues that ancient Gnostics saw God as no different from humans. Yet Gnosticism's entire point is this difference. Horton regrettably offers no recommendation for the reformation of American Christianity beyond a simplistic call to let the church be defined by the Gospel rather than the laws of the market. (Nov.)
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From the Inside Flap
Invoking Martin Luther's treatise On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church
, Michael Horton fears that the church in America has also been willingly taken captive. The captors are American culture and ideals: consumerism, pragmatism, self-sufficiency, individualism, positive thinking, personal prosperity, and nationalism. Though these are antithetical to the gospel, we have often made them part and parcel with it.
Horton argues that while we haven't yet arrived at Christless Christianity, we are well on our way. Though we invoke the name of Christ, too often Christ and the Christ-centered gospel are pushed aside. The result is a message and a faith that are, in Horton's words, "trivial, sentimental, affirming, and irrelevant." This alternative "gospel" is a message of moralism, personal comfort, self-help, self-improvement, and individualistic religion. It trivializes God, making him a means to our selfish ends. Horton skillfully diagnoses the problem and points to the solution: a return to the unadulterated gospel of salvation. Here is a must-read for anyone concerned about the state and future of Christianity and the church in America.