Nominal Christianity

I want my sons to know that Christianity is more than a label. It is more than a religious preference. And it is much more than going to “church” on a Sunday morning. Being a Christian is to be like Christ. It is a person whose affections are bent towards Jesus. It is when our life is reflective of the Gospel.

I originally wrote this post on 1/12/12

Over a year ago while I was reading and studying some of Dr. John Piper‘s work, I saw a consistent reference to Jonathan Edwards. Dr. Piper had a professor who told him to take the time to research and study a theologian/scholar to grow and learn from. The person Dr. Piper chose was Jonathan Edwards. I have been greatly influenced by Dr. Piper and I likewise wanted to study the man that so greatly influenced Dr. Piper.

Jonathan Edwards wrote about a series of topics but two of my favorites are his thoughts on  the “affections” and “nominal christianity”. My description of a nominal Christian is a person who:


  • Knows doctrine
  • Has an understanding of who Jesus is and what he did
  • Goes to the church
  • Serves in the church


  • Whose heart is not regenerate
  • Whose life is not reflective of the Gospel

The scariest part of nominal christianity is that it can creep up on anyone, especially when we begin to believe that we are self sufficient.

Self love is sufficient, without grace, to cause men to love those that love them, or imagine love them, and make much of them – Edwards

The answer to nominal Christianity is simply the Gospel and remembrance.

  1. The Gospel – It affects our hearts and causes us to find security, redemption, regeneration, and deep satisfaction in Christ and his work on the cross.
  2. Remembrance – Just as Jesus taught his disciples to take communion in remembrance of him, so we should bring to remembrance the Gospel and the work of Christ on the cross. It important and essential to live lives that are worthy of the Gospel. 

Why Memoirs To My Kids?

To be very honest, the thought of writing a blog is not something that is incredibly appealing to me. I love theology, leadership, and discussing various philosophies of ministry. Writing blogs is not in that list. During some sermon preparation two years I ago, I started to see a consistent theme among pastors, theologians, scholars, and teachers that I valued and respected. They all wrote consistently. Some of my favorites like Charles Spurgeon, C.S Lewis, and Jonathan Edwards kept consistent journals and wrote to those that they loved. Hundreds of years later, there disciplined approach to writing left us with the ability to learn and grow from their thoughts.


Liam (left) and Levi (right)

17 months ago my son Liam was born and one week ago my second son Levi joined us. As I was praying I felt an overwhelming compulsion to start writing specifically to them. I wanted Liam and Levi to be able to read my thoughts and see how the Gospel was actively transforming their incredibly flawed and sinful father. I wanted to be able to provide them the opportunity to learn from my experiences, successes, failures, and hardships. With the desire that they would experience the incredible power and refining of the Gospel, even beyond what I have.

Liam and Levi are an absolute joy, and I pray that these posts would encourage others that stumble upon this blog to experience the beauty of the Gospel and grow in their affections for Christ.

My next post will be Levi’s story and how God showed us his Glory through some challenging moments these last 9 months.

– Joel