In preparation for my sermon this past Sunday, I re-read the opening lines of Michael Horton’s excellent book Christless Christianity (an absolute must-read for anyone bold enough to handle some right-on-the-money constructive criticism). He writes:
What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city? Over half a century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio. Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia (the city where Barnhouse pastored), all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at eachother. There would be no swearing. The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No ma’am,” and the churches would be full every Sunday…where Christ is not preached.
As Horton points out in his book, there is a great difference between moralism and the gospel. We must remember that Christ came first not to make bad people good but to make dead people live. If we forget that, our Christianity will turn out to be Christless.