The Problem with American ‘Christianity’
In the last 200 years, Christianity in America has been distorted — or, to use a more serious word, ravaged — Christianity in America has been ravaged by the dominant teaching that decisions for God are more basic in defining a Christian than delight in God.
“Christianity in America has been ravaged by the dominant teaching that decisions for God are more basic than delight in God.”
The upshot of the dominance of this viewpoint — right across the Christian spectrum from Roman Catholic to fundamentalist Protestant — the dominance of this viewpoint is the emergence of thousands upon thousands of professing Christians who have made decisions about God and joined churches, but have no new gladness in God, and are not Christians. The effort of this dominant viewpoint in American evangelicalism to define saving faith apart from spiritual affections is biblically futile.
To define saving faith apart from feelings — feelings is a positive word. I’m using it synonymously with affections or emotions. To define saving faith apart from feelings, emotions, affections of glad dependence, thankful trust, fervent admiration, pleased submission, contented resting, thrilled treasuring, eager reverence, heartfelt adoration is futile.
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You cannot strip those adjectives away: glad, thankful, fervent, pleased, contented, thrilled, eager, heartfelt. You cannot strip them away from the nouns: trust, admiration, submission, resting, treasuring, reverence, adoration. You can’t strip those affectional adjectives away from the nouns — which we try to make faith — and have anything left except what the devil can do. Or, if you think carefully, you might have some oxymorons like unthankful saving faith. But there is no such thing.
By John Piper
John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.