We are not evil, we think, and certainly not spiritually dead. Haven’t you heard of the power of positive thinking? I can become a better me and experience my best life now. That’s why God is there–to make that happen. My life is not going right, but God loves me and has a plan to fix my life. I simply need to follow certain steps, think certain things, and check off certain boxes, and then I am good.
Both our diagnosis of the situation and our conclusion regarding the solution fit nicely in a culture that exalts self-sufficiency, self-esteem, and self-confidence. We already have a fairly high view of our morality, so when we add a superstitious prayer, a subsequent dose of church attendance, and obedience to some of the Bible, we feel pretty sure that we will be all right in the end.
Note the contrast, however, when you diagnose the problem biblically.The modern-day gospel says, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Therefore, follow these steps, and you can be saved.” Meanwhile, the biblical gospel says, “You are an enemy of God, dead in your sin, and in your present state of rebellion, you are not even able to see that you need life, much less it cause yourself to come to life. Therefore, you are radically dependent on God to do something in your life that you could never do.
The former sells books and draws crowds. That latter saves souls. Which is more important?
David Platt, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream(Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2010), 32.