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Theology

The 50/50 Gospel and Grace

Jonathan Dodson:

In his newest book, Christless Christianity, Michael Horton argues that a semi-pelagian understanding of the gospel plagues the American church. Is it fair, however, to lay our rampant nominalism at the feet of Pelagius? After all, most so-called “semi-pelagian” churches are neither aware of nor lay claim to Pelagian doctrine (heresy). Perhaps it is overreaching to frame the Christless Christianity of America with a 6th-century theology? Regardless, Horton has placed his finger on the near lifeless pulse of the American gospel.

He points out that American Protestantism has come to view grace as “divine assistance for the process of moral transformation rather than as a one-sided divine rescue.” That gospel operates on what we’ll call a 50/50 principle. This 50/50 gospel offers salvation via a blend of fifty percent grace and fifty percent good behavior. The cross is no longer expiation of sin but an example of how to live sacrificially. People are good enough to choose Christ but they simply need to be reminded of how good a choice he is. Broken marriages, patterns of sexual sin, deep-seated anger, and rampant debt are primarily the product of our failure to behave like Jesus.

Read the whole thing.