Thursday, June 09, 2005

Giving credit where credit is due!

I'm not the biggest fan of my denomination's book-selling arm but I'll give praise where praise is due. I went into the local store (Hickory, NC) two weeks ago with our Middle School youth pastor. On the way there, I told him what I expected - huge endcap displays hawking the recent best-seller from Houston mega-pastor Joel Osteen.

Once there, I managed to find my way out of the jungle of Precious Moments figurines, Left Behind pen sets, Purpose-Driven coffee mugs and Experiencing God toothbrushes only to find the newest bestseller: "Precious Moments with Purpose Driven People who have been Left Behind."

After escaping the land of cheesy art and talking vegetables, I finally found the book section but no Osteen. Surely, it was on the next aisle. Maybe it was in the mega Men's Needs section. Nope, struck out again. I was feeling somewhat surprised, mixed with relief but readying myself for vindication. I surveyed the two columns of theology texts (that's right - two whole columns). Maybe on the Christian Living wall.

Just maybe. Perhaps. Possibly - it's not here!

Determined to get the scoop, I approached the checkout desk. I peered through the pyramid of Test-A-Mints breath fresheners and made eye contact with the clerk. He asked if he could help me and I said, "I looking for Joel Osteen's new book, 'Your Best Life Now.'" (I wasn't lying - I really was looking for it). Very firmly, he replied, "I'm sorry but Lifeway has determined not to carry that book."

My emotions were mixed. I was disappointed I had "lost the bet" but relieved and even proud that someone in Nashville is discerning and courageous enough to recognize serious theological error when they smell it. Bravo, Lifeway!


cdn said...

There is a link to the mission statement of Lakewood Church. What do find wrong with their beliefs.

Jeff A. Spry said...

I don't have a single problem with the church's statement of faith. It is a fine example of a very simple faith message of the most important areas of theology.

I just don't believe that the statement of faith makes any kind of impact on Osteen's sermons or writings. He shows a total lack of ability to exegete Scripture, leading to gross misuse of said Scripture. For example, consider this quote from his bestseller:

He has crowned me with favor, therefore, I can expect preferential treatment. I can expect people to go out of their way to want to help me.

Really? Is that what Christians should believe? I would rather cling to the reality of the words of Christ - the world will hate me because it hates Him.

Luke said it best: "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way" (Luke 6:20-26). I would get very concerned about my "saltiness" if the world that hates God started getting all luvvy-duvvy with me.

My complaint against Joel Osteen's teaching, aside from his focus on material gain and his unrealistic promise that the normal Christian life is supposed to be easy, is that he promotes a very narrow understanding of what constitutes a true blessing from God. For Joel Osteen, blessings from God are those things which make us more healthy, wealthy, and comfortable in this life.

Osteen and his "success" is simply the product of the mile-wide and inch-deep American evangelicalism that has lost its moorings in the full sufficiency of the Word of God.