The Problem With Vampire Christianity

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"I'd like a little of your blood, please," and other Evangelical errors.

Editors’ Note: Today we’re a featuring a special article from the archives by the late Dallas Willard. His inspiring voice encouraged all to abide in Christ and pursue obedience. Willard was and is a true gift to the church.  

If we are Christians simply by believing Jesus died for our sins and that all we need is to have our sins forgiven in order to go to heaven when we die, then why do some people keep insisting that something more than this is desirable? Lordship, discipleship, spiritual formation and the like?

What more could one want than to be sure of their eternal destiny and enjoy life among others who profess the same faith as they do? Of course, everyone wants to be a good person. But that does not require that you actually do what Jesus himself said and did. Haven’t you heard? “Christians are not perfect. Just forgiven.”

Now those who honestly find themselves concerned about such matters might find it helpful to consider four simple points.

Vampire Christianity

First, there is absolutely nothing in what Jesus himself or his early followers taught that suggests you can decide just to enjoy forgiveness at Jesus’ expense and have nothing more to do with him.

Some years ago, A.W. Tozer expressed his “feeling that a notable heresy has come into being throughout evangelical 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 to!”

This “heresy” has created the impression that it is quite reasonable to be a “vampire Christian.” One, in effect, says to Jesus: “I’d like a little of your blood, please. But I don’t care to be your student 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.” But is this really acceptable to Jesus?

And when you stop to think of it, how could one actually trust him for forgiveness of sins while not trusting him for much more than that? You can’t trust him without believing that he was right about everything and that he alone has the key to every aspect of our lives here on earth.

Dallas Willard DALLAS WILLARD was a Professor in the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He taught at USC, where he was Director of the School of Philosophy from 1982-1985. He also taught at the University of Wisconsin (Madison, 1960-1965), and held visiting appointments at UCLA (1969) and the University of Colorado (1984). Dallas Willard passed away on May 8, 2013, at the age of 77.

More from Dallas Willard or visit Dallas at http://www.dwillard.org

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  • Imnidjit

    It interests me how often the words “we” and “they” show up in our writing, especially when the general tenor runs to critique of belief or behavior. But what about “me?” I see, and frankly, I practice, exhortation far out of balance with confession. Yet I am convinced that my Lord’s love and drawing magnetism are much more accessible to those around me by my modeling than by my expression of what someone else should or should not be doing. Others are not the problem, and even if they were, they are not a problem I can fix. I am the problem. Jesus is the fixer.

  • http://www.churchleaderscampfire.com/ Neil Schultz

    This article certainly divides those of a “cheap grace” perspective and those of a “confessing church” perspective. Lord Jesus, please enable me to live a life characterized by Your fruit and not by my fleshly vampirism.

  • Maria

    Many have believe Jesus wrong from the moment they became save. Daily fellowship with Jesus should be a delight not a rule of men. Our hearts should yearn to be at the feet of our Master. We must remember not all who say Lord in your name I did this or that will partake of the Kingdom. Also any person who believe in His name shall be save. The men dying next to Christ was welcome into heaven at that moment. We must be careful to not judge a human heart. That is God job not ours. Mature Christians lead the weak. And some will be save. Be lead by the Spirit my friends not this flesh. His blood this the cleansing on Calvary. Daily look at the cross not men.

  • Epaminondas

    “And this is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3. Eternal life is a relationship, not a place. Heaven would only be a temporary home. The New Jerusalem is our eternal home. Revelation 21:9-22:4

    • Ryan

      You got it!

  • Richard

    We can do nothing to save ourselves Christ paid for it all at the cross. But that doesn’t mean we just sit down & do nothing with our faith. We are called to live for him so that his grace & light can be manifested to those around us. As Christians we all a job to do. We are called to be a set-apart people. That does not mean we are perfect. We will all make mistakes. But it does mean that we strive to be perfect. The bar is set high. God gives us his spirit & power to live for him. He gives us his truth & love to share with those around us. Don’t wait to get to heaven to really live. Enjoy heaven now by living for him.

  • Epaminondas

    I think part of the problem is the word “Lord”. The Greek word is Kyrie, which is a divine title for The Creator of the Universe. We say, “Is Christ your Lord?” This puts the focus on me. Does my life conform to his statutes? Do I obey his commands? “Is Christ, the all-powerful Creator, your God?”, OTOH, is rather a different question. It recognizes Jesus for who he is, and acknowledges his glory and provision. It’s also an expression of faith. When Paul was at Athens and he read the inscription, usually translated, ” the unknown god”, the emphasis is wrong. A better translation would be, “Unknown, The God”. After all, many gods were unknown in Greece. Paul was making known to them The God!

    • Joe Rhoads

      One of the problems that I constantly address is the phrase “accept Jesus as Lord.” The reality is, whether you are saved or lost, Jesus IS your Lord. The Christian has submitted to His Lordship, while the non-Christian has not submitted to His Lordship. The call of Romans 10:9 is to “confess/admit Jesus is Lord.”

  • vee moss

    It that was all to Christianity, then we would have went to heaven as soon as we were saved. So would the disciples before us.

  • Paul

    Heaven is not the point of salvation. Neither is having God on our side so we can fulfill our destiny. Salvation is being shook awake at our sins offense against a holy God Who will destroy those who refuse Him. Scripture is clear – Jesus saves this who are sick – full of cancerous sin. The religious elite were full of themselves, thought they knew a lot about God, but were far from the Kingdom of God. When Jesus Spirit awakens us to our sins and we are quickened to life we WILL love Jesus and want to be with Him. The cherry on top will be heaven.

    • Ryan

      Your right about heaven not being the point of salvation. From my experience the whole point of salvation for me is that great relationship I have with Father God. Heaven has already started for me despite I’m still living in this fallen world and still have to continue living through pains of various sorts and die in the flesh.

  • Vincent Aja

    Too many Christians were still over estimating the GRACE and the LOVE of God. What most of us do not yet understand is that SALVATION begins with REPENTANCE. And Repentance means a change of behavior. People are intellectually agreeing with the Bible hoping that no matter what; that they have secured a place in the Kingdom. This is a doctrinal error and not biblical. Once one confesses his or her sins and receives the FORGIVENESS and went back into that sin and died without RENEWING his or her faith with the Lord, the person will be lost. Most people do not know that other religions have more faith and reverence for Christ Jesus more than most Christians, but the problem with the people of other faiths are that they have failed to give up on that little lordship of the Satan. Moslems believed that the Lord Jesus whom they call Prophet Isa is coming back, and the Hindus all are aspiring to attain Christ Consciousness. All of these, they were doing by faith. So when a Christian thinks that once he or she believes in Christ Jesus that he or she has secured place solely through this confession. This is a fatal mistake. I have heard all the errors that when God looks at the Cross He will see the righteousness of Christ Jesus, and forgives one his or her sin(s). This shows that the people have failed to understand that what was left on the Cross were the satanic garbage because when the sins of world was heaped upon Him at the Cross the Father left Him, and He cried… (Mathew 27:46). God the Father has done this because of His Holiness and Righteousness so now I do not know what He should be going back to do at the Cross when it was Satan`s defeat that was hanging on there. So if we are to be Jesus` students then righteousness and holiness are required. The Bible made it clear that without this nobody shall see God or inherit the Kingdom (Galatians 5:19-21)(Hebrews 12:14). These passages were given to us by Paul so there is no need for people to be hanging on denominational doctrines and ignore the biblical truths. The Lord Jesus forgives sins only when they are confessed and forsaken and not when one is taking pleasure in them. Let`s just be serious with our Christian lives!

    • Epaminondas

      Changed behavior is the fruit of a new creation, not the cause. To repent means to change your mind. Zacchaeus’ life changed as a result of his new relationship with Jesus. It was not a precondition. Consecrating our lives to Jesus is the result of salvation, and our spiritual service of worship. (Romans 12:1-2)

  • Souheil Bayoud

    The article is good concerning obedience,but the heading is not appropriate.

  • Lily Anne Abraham

    The whole Truth presented frankly .This should make the nominal, vampire Christians sit up and desire a total transformation in their superfluous beliefs

  • Questioning “Christian”

    What comes first? Behavior Modification or internal transformation? This article and the comments are a perfect example of how contemporary Christianity is bi polar with a word fetish. If all it takes it to change our behavior, why do we need Christ? If we need to have faith he will transform our hearts, at what point do we stop being these “vampire Christians”? “A few weeks, or a month” like this article suggested? There is a ton of hyperbole being spewed here as gospel with no real answers for someone struggling with their faith.

  • Questioning “Christian”

    so where is the “Heaven” rubric. There is plenty of talk about who isnt getting in, but no one can provide me with anything more than hyperbole on what the criteria is.

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