Jesus and Santa Claus

Does evangelicalism have a problem of treating Jesus like He is Santa Claus?  The quote below from Dr. Horton are not addressing this, however, I believe they are applicable to this topic.  In a way, I think Santa Claus gets more respect.  At least with Santa the morality of being good or bad is in view.  Granted, this morality is ultimately about serving self with the consequences being either getting something you want or not.  On the other hand, Jesus is just supposed to give all you want regardless of what God commands in His holiness.

As we lose a sense of God’s gravity, sin loses its reference point.  No longer falling short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23), sin is now falling short of the glory of the self.  Everything is under control quite well without Christ.  God is still keeping score-but only of the good things that we do, and the stakes are not quite as high; No longer an issue of our place in the life to come, it’s just a question of getting the best out of life here and now.

Horton, Michael. Christless Christianity. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2008. 73.

In this context, Jesus become whatever you want him to be in your life.  If one greatest problem is loneliness, the good news is that Jesus is a reliable friend.  If the big problem is anxiety, Jesus will calm us down.  Jesus is the glue that holds our marriages and families together, gives us a purpose to strive towards, and provides wisdom for daily life.  There are half-truths in all of these pleas, but they never really bring hearers face-to-face with their real problem: that they stand naked and ashamed before a holy God and can only be acceptably clothed in his presence by being clothed, head to toe, in Christ’s righteousness.

The gospel of submission, commitment, decision, and victorious living is not good news about what God has achieved but a demand to save ourselves with God’s help.   Besides the fact that Scripture never refers to the gospel as having a personal relationship with Jesus nor defines faith as a decision to ask Jesus to come into our heart, this concept of salvation fails to realize that everyone has a personal relationship with God already: either as a condemned criminal standing before a righteous judge or as a justified coheir with Christ and adopted child of the Father.

ibid. pp. 73-74.

Tomorrow I’ll post similar quotes from a book originally published in 1973.  It’s amazing how certain things just don’t really change or go away.  When we have no understanding of the sinners that we are and Who God is the context of the need for the Gospel and repentance and faith are minimized to insignificance.

Repent and be merry,

Mark

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The above article was posted on December 23, 2008 by Mark Lamprecht.
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