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Summary

Is it possible that we have left Christ out of Christianity? Are the faith and practice of American Christians today more American than Christian? Have we allowed the church to be taken captive to the prevailing culture? These are the provocative questions Michael Horton addresses in this thoughtful, insightful book. His analysis should give us pause as we consider the current state of Christianity—even evangelical Christianity—in America. 

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.

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