What would the church look like if the devil were in charge? In his book Christless Christianity, Michael Horton answers this question by talking about how no one would cuss or smoke, everyone would be courteous and polite, but Christ would not appear. No sermon would talk about Christ, his work on the cross, and how full atonement has been made.
As if the supremacy of Christ were novel expression fashioned in the forges of the post-modern mind, Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola take up the same cadence in their book, Jesus Manifesto. In their book, the authors paint a beautiful picture of Christ as head of the church, the subject of all our conversations, and the mediator of all our thoughts. They challenge us to see that “Jesus is the gravitational pull that holds all things together,” while also existing as “the center and circumference of the Christian life.”
Put simply: “This book is a means to an end, and that end is Christ.”
Every story has at least two sides. In part 1 I shared the dutiful reasons for my criticisms. Here is the other side of that story.
I have been on a journey of faith for most of my life. It has been difficult to say when that journey actually started, partly because it had so many eventful stops that have taken me in different directions along the way. Years ago I read The Pilgrim’s Regress by CS Lewis and it was in that reading that I was comforted to know that I was not alone. Although my journey has really not taken me too far from Christianity, it has led me down paths where I have had the honor of rubbing shoulders with people who have challenged me to think very differently about my own faith and who have instilled in me the value of being open to criticism and self-examination.
It is often curious to people why I would wish to engage in dialogue with atheists, especially when I emphasize that my intention is in no way to convert or subject them to Christianity. It comes at even a greater curiosity on both sides of the table for me to suggest that these conversations help me to actually strengthen and enrich my own belief. In reading the book Christless Christianity by Dr. Michael Horton of the White Horse Inn radio/podcast, I ran across a few passages that may begin to help answer that question:
The search for the sacred has become a recurring cover story for national news magazines for some time now. Although this search is often identified as an encouraging sign of interest in God, it may be more dangerous than atheism. At least atheism makes arguments and shows an interest in a world external to the feelings of the inner self. Furthermore, after each round of this quest for the holy grail, evangelicalism itself looks more and more indistinguishable from the ooze of pop spirituality more generally (page 159-60).
Leonard Sweet is a prominent, albeit controversial, Christian leader and thinker. Last night he posted this observation on Twitter: