Sunday, May 13, 2007

Charismatic Moralism

It's Sunday morning, and so I'm thinking about church. And I've been thinking this morning that the appropriate phrase for much of the preaching I hear at my church would be "charismatic moralism."

[Aside: Hey, everybody likes to coin a phrase. Let's google this one and see what we get:
Your search - "charismatic moralism" - did not match any documents.
Oh, cool. I may be the first to use this phrase on the Web!]

So anyway, what am I referring to here? Well, the fundamental imperative of traditional moralism is this:
Be good.
Needless to say, there are endless elaborations on this riff, inside and outside the church. Moralism, I feel constrained to add, never solved a single problem, never freed a single prisoner, never quenched the thirst of a single thirsty man or woman. Moralism is a culture-wide curse.

But the fundamental imperative of "charismatic moralism" is this:
Be good . . . with the help of the Holy Spirit.
One might also call this moralism plus or perhaps moralism 2.0. The Holy Spirit is here treated as our key assistant in fulfilling the "be good" imperative. Instead of "you-can-do-it" we get "you-can-do-it-with-the-help-of-the-Holy-Spirit."

Well, I need to mention something: This is not the Gospel. The New Testament Gospel is never called "the Gospel of the Holy Spirit." No, it's the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to direct our attention Christward.

How I long for a worldwide Gospel-focused Christ-glorifying church.

BTW: Michael Horton has written an essay called "Christless Christianity" for the latest edition of Modern Reformation. He puts his finger on the fundamental nature of the crisis of Christianity today.


Anonymous said...

Jesus loves you.

Bob said...

This I know.