Exponential Liveblog – Matt Chandler

The second speaker at Monday’s RightNow pre-conference was Matt Chandler.  Before this conference, I knew little about Matt except his recent cancer diagnosis.  Matt pastors The Village Church in Texas.

He began with a warning that much of what passes for Christianity today is actually a Moralistic Deism.  He says this has occurred because the gospel was simply assumed, and church culture focused on teaching about sanctification at the expense of justification.  He defines the former as a process, where we join with God to become more and more like him, and less like us.  He countered this by preaching through the book of Ephesians when he first arrived at The Village Church, at the time a church of 160 people, and now numbers in the thousands.

Matt then shared two ways of telling the gospel in four points, both true, but often portrayed as if they are mutually exclusive.  One is the gospel “on the ground” – beginning with the action of God, then humanity, then Christ, then response.  The other is the gospel “in the air” – beginning with creation, then the fall, redemption and consummation.  He skilfully reconciled these two as one gospel, both fully dependent on the atoning work of Christ.  His entire talk was driven and connected by scripture passages, particularly here as he illustrated the fullness of the gospel with scripture about what we are saved “to” and “from”.  I think this air-ground distinction will be helpful in teaching the gospel in Christianity 101.

In a later Q&A – he was asked about transformation of legacy churches.  He shared a few principles from his arrival at the Village Church, particularly that elder saints be asked to help in transformation.  He then told the story of an older church member who he enlisted to disciple and teach life skills to young men.  After some time in this ministry, the man said, “as long as young men keep coming to Christ, I don’t mind the music.”

All around, best talk of the day, thanks to both the content and the man.  They are clearly one and the same.

Some soundbites:

  • Thanksgiving (the day his cancer symptoms began) did not surprise God.  God controls our cells, even the mitosis, everything that happens inside the cells.
  • Even on your best day you are a stench to God!
  • Justification – Saved by Christ, and Sanctification – Submit to Christ
  • The Discovery Channel tries to explain the resurrection every Easter, because there is something there that needs to be explained.
  • So many people can say Jesus died for their sins, but can’t say what happens next.
  • We are not building a ladder to heaven
  • We were created for glory, not fellowship.  Fellowship is one part of glory, but not all.

A question for commenters: Is Moralistic Deism the prevailing religion in Canada?  Or something else.  Perhaps just deism?


  1. Nick
    April 20, 2010

    HI Ryan!

    Thanks for your blogging.

    Is Matt Chandler’s Moralistic Deism the same as what Wikipedia describes as Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, below?

    “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, sometimes abbreviated MTD,[1][2] is a term coined by authors Christian Smith at the University of Notre Dame and Lisa Pearce at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to describe the common religious beliefs among American youth.[3] Their research project, titled the National Study of Youth and Religion, was funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., a private organization known for its support of Christianity. The pair found that many young people believed in several moral statutes not exclusive to any of the major world religions:

    1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
    2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
    3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
    4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
    5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

    These points of belief were compiled from interviews with approximately 3,000 young teenagers.[4]”

    • Ryan Sim
      April 20, 2010

      Sounds about right. I can see this is the prevailing religion of the southern US, but what about Canada? My guess would be that this accurately describes many dechurched (and churched) Canadians but not the non-churched.


Leave a Reply