In 1937 Yale Divinity School professor and deep-thinking theologian H. Richard Niebuhr published “Kingdom of God in America” in which he summed up the liberal Christianity with this now famous quote:
A God without wrath
brought men without sin
into a Kingdom without judgment
through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.
This theology gave birth to the so-called “social gospel” and the idea that saving people meant making them more good, in their own eyes of course. Now, some 70 years later, Christians and the mainstream churches they attend start with the premise that humans are good at our core and merely in need of the right machinations to morally right ourselves and make God as happy with us as we our with ourselves.
Today, I’m saddened to see the growing trend in Churches to remodel the sanctuary as a theatre with the front as a multipurpose stage; sans cross. This goes along with the rise in self-help, self-esteem (and ultimately, self-salvation) we see in today’s moralist therapeutic deism. So, with Niebhur in mind, I have pondered a response based on what I see in today’s evangelical self-help clubs:
A preacher without a law
advised a congregation without guilt
about a life without sacrifice
from behind a pulpit without a Cross.