Pastor Tim Challies of Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario, has said that there are important differences between a truly Christian church and what he defined as a “Christianish” one.
“There is nothing better for your spiritual well-being than to be in a Christian church. There is nothing worse for your spiritual well-being than to be in a Christianish church,” he argued in a blog post on Monday.
Challies, whose church is part of Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada, did not name denominations, but explained that a truly Christian church “teaches the Bible.”
“It is committed to the inerrancy, sufficiency, clarity, and authority of the Word of God and therefore preaches it week by week with confidence and consistency,” he wrote.
In contrast, he said that a Christianish church only “teaches about the Bible.”
“It is committed to imparting life lessons and uses the scriptures as a starting point to teach people how to live lives of success and fulfillment,” he positioned.
Secondly, he noted that a Christian church “admits the deep depravity of human beings,” as opposed to proclaiming the “inherent goodness of humanity.”
Thirdly, he wrote that a Christian church “makes its core declaration the finished work of Christ. The good news of grace frees us from the impossible task of earning our own salvation and instead simply receives what Christ has already accomplished.”
On the other hand, he warned that a Christianish church pushes a “brutal and impossible path to impressing God with deeds that will catch His eye and win His favor.”
Next, Challies argued that a Christian church “proclaims the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ,” while a Christianish one “proclaims the wrathless love of God and the exemplary life of Jesus Christ, upholding Christ as the ultimate example of what a human being can and should be.”
The Canadian pastor continued by stating that a Christian church “preaches the Gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone,” while a Christianish one preaches either social justice or personal prosperity.
“It calls people to right social wrongs or to claim financial enrichment, to repent only of insufficient action or insufficient faith,” he warned.
The sixth main difference Challies identified in the purpose of worship, explaining that a Christian church gathers each week “to worship the God of the Bible according to the Bible,” while a Christianish church “gathers each week for empowerment or entertainment. Their services are shaped more by pop culture or personal preference than by holy Scripture.”
The exclusivity of Jesus he listed as the seventh main difference.
“It echoes scripture in saying Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and that there is no other way to be reconciled to the Father but through him,” he wrote, adding that in contrast, a Christianish church “insists Jesus Christ may be a way but not the way, and proclaims instead that all roads lead ultimately to the same destination.”
Finally, he said that a Christian church will proclaim both the existence of Heaven and Hell, while a Christianish one “denies the possibility of eternal punishment.”
At the end of December 2017, the leaders of the Gospel Coalition separately came together to identify some of the major challenges facing evangelical Christians and churches in 2018.
The leaders, including Tim Keller, who last year stepped away from full-time preaching at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City; President Don Carson, Board Chairman Kevin DeYoung, and Executive Director Ben Peays, warned that “poorly formed Christians” is one of the main challenges.
“Largely cut off from history, biblically illiterate, and catechized more by cable news than by the creeds, today’s evangelical Christians are naturally being shaped more by the ideological zeitgeist than by theological orthodoxy,” they wrote at the time.