In a recent podcast interview with Covenant Radio about Gospel-Driven Life, there’s a great moment where Horton addresses the popular conception (which I certainly grew up with) that when Christians are accused of relying on Christianity as a crutch, they should freely and happily admit, “Yes, Christ is a crutch, and I need it because I am a poor and needy and completely helpless human being.” Horton agrees, and clarifies:
Jesus came to call not the righteous but sinners. It’s not those who are well who need a physician but those who are sick. And at the same time, another way to look at that is depending on what people mean by it. What Sigmund Freud and atheists ever since have sort of argued is that God is a crutch, in the sense that you can’t face life yourself, you can’t grow up and be a big boy, so you project a God who is responsible for the things that are happening to you, to whom you can pray, and hopefully — hopefully he’ll turn things around; you don’t have to take personal responsibility; it’s a crutch! And if that’s what people mean, that critique — that atheistic critique of religion as psychological projection of our own felt needs — is actually given plausibility by the way a lot of Christians today present the gospel as therapy, as a panacea for everything.
And that’s where I think we have to say, “No, actually, I don’t need Jesus to get through life. I could probably creep through life without committing suicide, by just trying to be a good person and trying to work hard and climb the ladder and so forth. I could make it through this life without Jesus.” And let’s face it, we can! He’s not a crutch, he’s a savior! Because there’s something greater — our problem here is not just that we don’t have our felt needs met, that we are falling short of the best life we could have now, the problem is that again we are under the wrath of God and the story God tells is a lot deeper than the story we tell about ourselves. So you know, I think that a lot of non-Christians hear Christian testimonies as if Jesus is the savior from all of our problems and struggles; that we’re unwilling to address ourselves. And they don’t really get that Christianity is saying Jesus is the rescuer from this deep problem of which all those other things are mere symptoms.
To sum up, it seems to me that we can rightly say, we don’t necessarily need Jesus as a crutch to get through life, but we certainly need him as a crutch to get through death!