Getting Beyond “Vampire Christianity”

 

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.

Sincerely Submitted,

Ken L Roberts

Love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment. 

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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15 thoughts on “Getting Beyond “Vampire Christianity”

  1. Dear Ken,
    When I read your article about "Vampire Christianity",I was shocked.Those
    "Vampire Christians" will never make it to heaven.I simply cannot believe that.
    This is terrible.I think we must take distance from "christians" who deny the
    power of God.For it is written in 2 Tim 3:5,"……having the appearance of godliness,but denying its power.Avoid such people…"

    May the Lord bless you,
    San

  2. I recently read another one of Tozer's quotes that has had me thinking on this very same thing. He said, "Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late – and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work." Seems like this has been a problem in the church for along time. Praying for God to move, yet not really doing the hard work of being sensitive to sin, turning from it, and obeying what God says. May we be a people that pray and OBEY so that he will move in our lives in miraculous and powerful ways.

  3. So sad but true…without realizing it I can get wrapped up in the work before me not remembering the price Jesus paid for my accessibility to His mercy and grace. Remaining in a place of humility can be tough. Humility meaning that I remember how immoral and small I really am…I'm with you! Let's drive a spike through the heart of Vampire Christianity…Thank you for this timely reminder!

  4. Brenda

    Thanks for the comment. Yes, He paid it all, so we should give all. I am forever motivated by His Grace.

    Ken L Roberts

  5. Hi Ken,
    I "stumbled" on to this rather innocently… The three men of God that you mentioned are required reading for our elders. We are currently living in what was science fiction 60 years ago. The Truth is currently out of vogue. It is being called the source of hate. Why am i surprised… Jesus prophesied it.
    jim

  6. Jim

    Glad you stumbled onto the blog. What great insight. Wow, I wish more churches had their elders reading these three men. I am alarmed with the state of Christianity and the church in our culture but I'm also encouraged. I believe many leaders and individuals are helping us move back toward the essence of following Jesus and being a part of a redeemed community.

    But as you said, we shouldn't be suprised…Jesus prophesied it.

    Thanks for the encouragement and the insightful comment.

    Ken L Roberts

  7. It thrills my heart to read your blog! I was just reading an article where someone referenced, "sometimes christians just want to suck the life out of you rather than seek the Father Himself". I loved your references of how there are christians who only want a little of His blood. And also that they can "do what they want" and still call themselves a christian. Thank you for your wise words and I look forward to your next blog!

  8. Karen

    Thanks for your kind and encouraging words. I really, really appreciate your support of my blogs and I appreciate your authentic life as a follower of Christ! Continue on….

    Ken

  9. Ken,

    Your quotes and comments had me thinking about another bit of prose by a fellow named Wilbur Reese from his book, "$3 worth of God, Please" that was published in 1971.

    Here is the title piece from that book.

    "I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.

    Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine.

    I don't want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant.

    I want ecstasy, not transformation.

    I want the warmth of the womb not a new birth.

    I want about a pound of the eternal in a paper sack.

    I'd like to buy $3 worth of God, please."

    – Wilbur Reese

    Sound familiar?

    Unfortunately, that book is out of print and the lowest current price I could find for a copy is $134. On Amazon the prices begin at $1,111 up to over $4,000 ! If you can find someone who would lend it to you to read and return, it would be worth the effort.

    Glenn

  10. Glenn

    Very interesting that you posted this. This piece that you quoted above had been coming back to my memory the last several months. But it was foggy. I think I read it in a Charles Swindoll book several years ago. It's lingered in my mind long enough that I was going to go back through some of my files and try to find it. But you did me a great service by passing it along.

    And yes, $3 Worth Of God sounds oh too familiar!

    Ken

  11. I can relate to the “vampires” because we all wrestle with the flesh. The issue is in whether we love Christ or not…for the Bible says that if we love Him we will obey Him. I do in fact grieve for these deceived people and the enormous joy that they are missing in the relationship of knowing and serving Jesus “AS” Lord.

  12. In response to the rising vampire subculture, a Christian counter-movement of self-professed vampire slayers has formed that opposes the notion of real vampires.