In the second chapter, entitled "The Real Crisis", this gem of a paragraph succinctly summarizes the view of God that we in America seem to have adopted corporately. As I read this chapter, I continually found myself shaking my head and saying, silently and reluctantly, "yup. That's where we are." Here's Horton's characterization of this crisis we face today:
"First, more like Mr. Rogers than the judge of all the earth, the sentimental deity of many Americans is incapable of wrath. Since he exists for us and our happiness, this heavenly friend may be disappointed and sad when we hurt ourselves, but he never sees sin as an offence primarily against himself and his perfect justice. Second, we may make mistakes - pretty bad ones, from time to time - but it would be wrong to call ourselves sinners, much less to imagine that we are captive to sin, helpless to do anything to will or work our way out of the mess. So, third, God brings us basically good people into a kingdom without judgment, since there is no law that could condemn and no gospel that could justify. And finally, for this sort of religious therapy you don't need a vicarious, atoning sacrifice if you are basically a nice person; what you really need is a good example." (p. 38, Michael Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life)And thus, here we are. Since God is love, the argument goes, we know deep down He really would just rather love us all and ignore what things we do wrong, if anything we do is really wrong at all, because things will turn out better if He does that. We can't call anything sin, because, well, some people disagree on what is sin and what is not, and who are we to call them wrong? Maybe we're wrong. Therefore sin is an outmoded and outdated concept, and we should really just be nice folks and not step on anyone else's toes. God understands.
This is the god that is often part of our civil discourse and our civil proclamations. This is not the Holy One of Israel - not the one who sent His Son to the Cross to atone for the sins of His people, facing the wrath that they rightly deserved. A view of God that does not include His righteous anger and wrath against sin is a view that fails the test of Biblical correctness - however politically correct it may be.
Horton has written this book in the style and with the scholarly care and vision that we've come to expect - and I think this book serves as an excellent followup to the equally important Christless Christianity. (See sample pages of "Christless Christianity" by clicking here) We certainly look forward to hosting Dr. Horton on Covenant Radio next week, and want to invite you to listen in when the podcast is released soon thereafter.