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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Christless Chrisitanity

A few weeks ago, The White Horse Inn had an excellent program entitled "Christless Christianity." This is the bane of the Church, and in every generation there has been some movement that focuses less on Christ and more on other things. When this is done, the Church stops being the Church and she becomes just another club.

I believe it was the Rev. Dr. Prof. David Scaer who said that all heresies are Christological in nature. There is no greater heresy than to have no Christ at all in the Church. Now, this doesn't mean that Christless churches toss out Christ all together. Rather, a Christless Christianity is one in which Christ stops being the Son of God who was sent to redeem the world from sin, death, and the devil. Christ is our Redeemer, and when He is robbed of that office and given another in its place, such as a great moral teacher, a big buddy, or the means to be blessed with all that American culture and technology offers, well, then you have a Christless Christianity.

The American Christian landscape is rife with Christless churches. The Church's ministry is to preach Christ crucified. Yes, this proclamation is a stumbling block to some and foolishness to others, but it is the power and wisdom of God to those who are called (1 Corinthians 1.23-24).

The danger of a Christless Christianity is what then do you do about sin? If there is no emphasis on Christ as our savior, then if you are concerned about sin there must be some method of meriting forgiveness. In 16th century Europe, the Catholic Church turned to indulgences, penance, saints, relics, and the like to appease Christians of their guilt. They should have pointed them to Christ alone. Here we see the real gem of the Reformation shine brightly. The chief article of the Church is that we are justified by faith through grace in Christ alone. There is no other mediator or propitiator, save Christ alone.

Christ is to be preached, and no other "ministry" can usurp the preaching office. When Christ is preached, then the people know that their sins have been absolved. This is the ministry of the Church. It may not be popular; it may not bring in hundreds or thousands of people each Sunday; but such preaching is the power of God that announces God's salvation and forgiveness through Christ alone who was sent to suffer, die, and rise again for our justification and redemption. We have one message: Christ crucified.

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