It was the late Dallas Willard – one of the godliest and most intelligent men I’ve ever known, who coined the phrase “vampire Christianity.” By using this disturbing word-picture, Dallas was trying to get across the idea that many Christians only want a little drop of Jesus’ blood so their sins can be forgiven, but not enough of His life and character for their lives’ to be transformed. (Ouch!)
According to Dallas,
“Vampire Christianity is in essence when a person says to Jesus, ‘I’d like a little of your blood, please. But I don’t care to be your student (disciple) or have your character. In fact, won’t you just excuse me while I get on with my life, and I’ll see you in heaven.’”
A. W. Tozer, one of the great Christian thinkers and prophetic voices of the 20th century, expressed the same idea that Dallas did; just in a different way. Over 50 years ago Tozer warned,
“… a notable heresy has come into being throughout evangelical Christian circles – the widely accepted concept that we humans can choose to accept Christ only because we need him as Savior and that we have the right to postpone our obedience to him as Lord as long as we want!”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer expressed the same concerns that Willard and Tozer did, but he did so by coining his own phrase – which he called “cheap grace.” Bonhoeffer writes,
“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
I know the words vampire and Christianity don’t usually go together, but I would propose that the idea behind the phrase goes to the heart of what ails much of today’s anemic expressions of Christianity. We want forgiveness without repentance. We want eternal life while remaining the captain of our own life. In essence, we want salvation without discipleship or Lordship.
I recently read where a strip tease dancer was celebrating the fact that she could provide her services while still presenting herself as a follower of Christ. I know that’s an extreme example but it makes my point. Didn’t Jesus say, if we love him we will obey him? It’s sad but true – a great heresy has slithered into the heart of the church.
There is some good news, however.
The words of the old hymn…
What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus
…are still true.
And it’s not only a drop of Jesus’ blood that we received at salvation, it was a complete transfusion! I call it a divine exchange. My life exchanged for His life. Paul put it this way, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…” Now that’s a transfusion that leads to transformation.
So what should we do?
Hey, I have a great idea! Let’s take one of the spikes that were driven through Jesus’ hands and feet, and drive it right through the heart of “vampire Christianity!” The thing really needs to die.
Ken L Roberts
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