I’m shamelessly copying/pasting Justin Taylor’s tremendous post of work done by Jonathan Leeman. It’s short and worth the introspective read!

Jonathan Leeman posts on a schema of seven counterfeit gospels, as cited in How People Change by Tim Lane and Paul Tripp.

1. Formalism. “I participate in the regular meetings and ministries of the church, so I feel like my life is under control. I’m always in church, but it really has little impact on my heart or on how I live. I may become judgmental and impatient with those who do not have the same commitment as I do.”

2. Legalism. “I live by the rules—rules I create for myself and rules I create for others. I feel good if I can keep my own rules, and I become arrogant and full of contempt when others don’t meet the standards I set for them. There is no joy in my life because there is no grace to be celebrated.”

3. Mysticism. “I am engaged in the incessant pursuit of an emotional experience with God. I live for the moments when I feel close to him, and I often struggle with discouragement when I don’t feel that way. I may change churches often, too, looking for one that will give me what I’m looking for.”

4. Activism. “I recognize the missional nature of Christianity and am passionately involved in fixing this broken world. But at the end of the day, my life is more of a defense of what’s right than a joyful pursuit of Christ.”

5. Biblicism. “I know my Bible inside and out, but I do not let it master me. I have reduced the gospel to a mastery of biblical content and theology, so I am intolerant and critical of those with lesser knowledge.”

6. Therapism. “I talk a lot about the hurting people in our congregation, and how Christ is the only answer for their hurt. Yet even without realizing it, I have made Christ more Therapist than Savior. I view hurt as a greater problem than sin—and I subtly shift my greatest need from my moral failure to my unmet needs.”

7. “Social-ism.” “The deep fellowship and friendships I find at church have become their own idol. The body of Christ has replaced Christ himself, and the gospel is reduced to a network of fulfilling Christian relationships.”

2 responses »

  1. Chris says:

    Wow, that is a very good breakdown! As I read them, I could see some aspects of my life in more than one. So, when does someone “fall into” one of these categories as opposed to “having some aspects” of them? And how would they know the difference?

  2. Byron says:

    Great question, Chris, but it seems to me that one “falls into” them when the statements that follow each are pretty much the way the person sees things. Now, that said, I think that many of us can be affected to one degree or another by them, to the degree that we allow them to creep into our (and confuse) our understanding of salvation by God’s grace through our faith alone in Christ. We may, for instance, believe in salvation by grace through faith alone, but nonetheless feel deep down that God doesn’t truly accept us if we “break one of the rules”; that’s legalism, to the degree that we believe it. I may be right on the gospel, and be a true follower of Christ, and yet allow my presentation of Christ to others to soft-pedal sin, and instead emphasize personal benefits (this is the mistake of the Osteen-types, on a macro scale). This is “creeping therapism”, if you will. Or we can cross the line from loving the people of God (which is a must!) to substituting them for Jesus (which is a problem). We may be followers of Christ, but our affections have subtly shifted. Howzat?

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