“The heart of most religions is good advice, good techniques, good programs, good ideas, and good support systems. These drive us deeper into ourselves, to find our inner light, inner goodness, inner voice, or inner resources.

Nothing new can be found inside of us. There is no inner rescuer deep in my soul; I just hear echoes of my own voice telling me all sorts of crazy things to numb my sense of fear, anxiety, and boredom, the origins of which I cannot truly identify.

But the heart of Christianity is Good News. It comes not as a task for us to fulfill, a mission for us to accomplish, a game plan for us to follow with the help of life coaches, but as a report that someone else has already fulfilled, accomplished, followed, and achieved everything for us.”

—Michael Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Books, 2009), 20

This is a particularly good quote in the light of the modern proliferation of ‘self-improvement’ messages in the most successful evangelical church in the US, who would present messages along the lines of  ‘Discover the Champion in you.’  More of Jesus and Paul please and less Oprah.


  1. I go around and around on this one.

    The conundrum I set myself is this.

    – The Gospel is Good News
    – As Good News it has to be relevant to the way I live my life day-in and day-out
    – So the Good news ought to teach me how to live a “better” life.

    That has to be a mandate for improving ourselves – is that not self-improvement.

    Where I think that the fundamental difference lies is in where we look for that improvement. If we look deeper into who we are then we are looking the wrong way. If we look to Jesus for our improvement then we are looking in the right direction – so not self-improvement, but God-improvement.

    The other significant fault-line is in the definition of “improvement”. I’m sure that many self-improvement people wouldn’t recognise Jesus definition of improvement.

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