Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

Good Enough Christianity . . .

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 28 March 2009

"Good-Enough Parenting" is a phrase familiar to developmental and child psychologists. The idea is this: No parent can be perfect so we should stop trying.

We should stop reading Parenting Magazine. We should stop making bunny-shaped pancakes. We should stop beating our heads against that Pottery Barn furniture that never did come together correctly after we took it out of the box . . . . and just be real. We'd do a better job of parenting if we'd just leave our terror driven, self-hating perfectionism behind and be happy with being (hold your breath)
. . . average.

But does this apply to being a Christian?

Will the pursuit of "Good-Enough Christianity" get us farther along the path of spiritual maturity than aiming for "Perfect Christianity?"

My husband and I have been reading Devotional Classics together for several weeks now over our morning coffee. We've been immersed in the writings of authors such as C.S. Lewis, Bernard of Clairvaux, George A. Buttrick, Martin Luther, John Bunyan, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Chrysostom, Jean-Nicholas Garou, Charles Spurgeon . . .
I think you get the point.

Why are we reading these authors? You should not have to ask, but just in case you're wondering . . . it's because these Christian authors actually believed God's Word to be inerrant and sufficient and infallible and inspired and the absolute final authority on all things! And, frankly, there aren't all that many authors today who write from this perspective.

If you hadn't already observed this phenomena, our culture subscribes to an anti-authority mentality which contributes to an anti-Bible mentality. God's Word has been depreciated by rationalism, existentialism, egoism, relationalism, ritualism, liberalism, intellectualism, mysticism, socialism, and probably a few other-isms as well.

These Christian writers of previous centuries would have been appalled by "Christians" today who blindly believe that God's Love will carry them to heaven simply because they've avoided the big, bad sins like embezzlement and murder. They would be sickened by the mass number of "Christians" who attend church for no other reason than to socialize. They would be horrified to see that "worship" was now defined by a certain style of music. They would be dismayed to know that most Christians only view Christianity as another of the world's many Religions.

These great Christian writers and preachers of yesterday would be aghast to realize that an immesurable number of Christians really are living a "good-enough" Christian life if only because they've never actually read their Bibles!

If St. John of the Cross had seen people today living a "good-enough" Christian life, he would have cried out,

"Oh soul created for this greatness and summoned to it -- what are you doing?"

Christianity is not about public or even private devotion. The Christian is the person who has seen his wretched and prideful state before God and chooses instead to acknowledge God's will. Such people consider God in EVERYTHING they do and live out EVERY aspect of their lives in accordance with God's Perfect Will. And -- Yes! They strive for perfection in their lives.

Listen to the words of William Law:

The simple point is this: either Christianity prescribes rules to live by in our daily lives, or it does not. If it does, then we must govern all of actions by those rules if we are to worship God.

. . . Our blessed Savior and his Apostles were very intent on giving us teachings that relate to daily life. They teach us:
to renounce the world and be different in our attitudes
and ways of life;

to renounce all its goods, to fear non of its evils, to reject its joys, and have no value for its happiness;

to be as newborn babes who are born into a new state of things;
to live as pilgrims in spiritual watching, in holy fear, and heavenly aspiring after another life;

to take up our cross daily, to deny ourselves,
to profess the blessedness of mourning, to seek the blessedness of poverty of spirit;

to forsake the pride and vanity of riches, to take no thought for the morrow, to live in the profoundest state of humility, to rejoice in worldly sufferings;

to reject the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life;

to bear injuries, to forgive and bless our enemies,
and to love all people as God loves them;

to give up our whole hearts and affections to God, and to strive to enter through the straight gate into a life of eternal glory.

Isn't it strange that people place so much emphasis upon going to church when there is not one command from Jesus to do so, and yet neglect the basic duties of our ordinary life which are commanded in every page of the Gospels?
~ William Law (1686 - 1761)
From "A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life"

If every Christian were to read the New Testament from its beginning to its end, we would find our course of life condemned in every page of it.

We would then conclude -- with pride -- that the Christian life is impracticable and unattainable in today's world and that the Bible does nothing but condemn and judge. We would also settle once and for all that those Christians who do believe the Bible to be the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God are delusional.

So then . . . we become content to live out "good-enough" Christianity because the Christianity of the New Testament is hopelessly out of reach in today's world and just flat-out absurd.

No Christian can be perfect so we should stop trying. We should just live like the rest of the world. God's Word is desperately behind the times and can't possibly be relevant to our lives today.


~Esthermay Bentley-Goossen
© 2009 The Heart of a Pastor's Wife


Barbara said...

Yes. Being a Christian has nothing to do with public or private worship or devotion. It’s about knowing and accepting our sinfulselves and accepting Christ’s sacrificial payment for our sins. And them living like we know it. Can we even hear that in a sermon today? You have to listen to the radio to hear it. I love the puritan writers and you’re right they believed the Bible was authoritative. It’s sad to see that even some of my favorite Christian speakers today have fallen for the –isms and would rather talk about culture than God’s word. Why can’t Bible study just be about the BIBLE!?

Andrea said...

Wonderful post. I love reading the classics too. And for all the criticism we get for being “old fashion” the lives of those criticizing are proof enough. Prayer that will infiltrate the filth of the culture is about all we can do sometimes even for our own family members. God’s word is so full of truth for living. It’s been proved over and over and over. I am so thankful for pastors and teachers who’ve showed it to me.

Conservative One said...

In principle and theory, a person becomes clean in salvation and thereby righteous before God. In one sense: perfect. He is pure and holy at this point. But perfected? Glorified? No. God must also do a work in him. Not an easy task as the pure and holy person is yet in a world of sin and death and not yet glorified. There is temptation to be battled and sin to overcome. In this sense, he is still a sinner and on his own, will fall again into sin. He needs the Holy Scripture, the Law, and the Holy Spirit as his guide

This is where the emergent church errs. It acknowledge neither sin nor the inerrancy of Scripture. Just salvation. If that.

In principle and theory and TRUTH, Jesus’ instructions, God’s Holy Word, the teaching of the Apostles is our strength to #1 acknowledge sin and #2 overcome sin and therein lies the point of the inerrant and sufficient and infallible and inspired Word.

As Jesus says, "without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:5).

Yes. Although unattainable in this lifetime, we should aim for perfect Christianity. Anything less is false doctrine.

Great post.


I too have been reading some of the old classics of Christianity. Charles Spurgeon is amazing!

I lived as one of those people who 'just got by' with my faith - until about 3 years ago - when God got a hold of my heart and lit a fire under me.

No more 'complacency'! No more 'mediocrity' for me!

Jesus was neither complacent - nor mediocre - but instead He always went the extra mile to do His Father's will! May we do the same!

Can we be perfect? Hardly! But pure and holy and righteous... loving, caring and forgiving?? We must strive for these with hearts full of grace and truth!

Looking UPward and Choosing JOY,
[In Flight]

Denise said...

Thanks for being who you are, a real woman of God my friend.

kalopoieo said...

and Amen.

LauraLee Shaw said...

I am a HUGE reader of the classics. Honestly, they inspire much of my writings (modern-day of course). My desire is to see our modern culture become capital "C" Christians again...instead of casual lowercase ones. I cannot imagine thinking that I could just settle for average in raising my kids, loving my husband, and especially loving the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I don't think it would say "strength" if we weren't supposed to live out our faiths actively.

As usual, you're getting to the deeper level, girl. And I enjoyed every second of it and will continue to walk alongside you with the spreading of this message.

Betsy Markman said...


If only people understood that faith in Christ can be nothing less than believing Him to be superior to all else...including sin! Today's "church" wants to worship money and sin, and use the blood of Christ as some sort of whitewash for their idolatry.

How I long for people to wake up!

True Believer said...

You have a beautiful blog and a message that needs to be heard everywhere. Especially among lukewarm Christians in America. A fellow blogger who I consider to be a friend and a *(lukewarm)* Christian sent me the link to your blog I believe with the hope that I would come out disagreeing with your post on Christians supporting Obama. Sadly I cannot because you are absolutely right. Any truly born-again Christian who reads their Bible under the direction of the Holy Spirit must agree. God’s Word is GOD’s WORD. Period.

I happen to be one of those Christians that the *(lukewarms)* hate. See, I actually READ my Bible. So I’m with you on this one, friend. God’s word is absolutely black and white on everything and to change his Word to match our own thinking is PRIDE. Mr. Obama is a false prophet and I believe placed by God to usher us into the world government which will lead us directly to Christ’s return. The truly saved Christian CANNOT agree with this leader. The wheat is separating from the shaft.

It is impossible today to have a respectful discourse with lukewarm Christians on the issues of the day because as I Corinthinas 1 says, “Preaching of the cross is to those who perish, foolishness; but to those who are saved it is the Power of God.”

Your good-enough post addresses this so well. Thank you. I too love the classical and puritan teachers. We would all do well to put down anthing written after 1920!

I can no longer discuss the state of our nation, culture, world, etc. with most of my *(lukewarm)* friends because they are blinded by the gods of this world (namely, the savior, obama and his socialist agenda) But I can pray for them. And I do.

Wonderful blog here!

Joan said...

I truly appreciate your blog amidst the fluff that's out there. I also greatly desire to undertand the lives that those classic devotional writers experienced. We just have too many distractions in our society. I often wished I could just escape to 300 years ago and expererience Christianity without all the false teachings that seem to go with it today.

Susan said...

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.Proverbs 27:17

Thanks Esthermay for this incredible word♥

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