Thursday, January 10, 2008

The real danger of Joel Osteen
I was reading another blog.  One that I get to about once or twice a month called the Internet Monk.  I first found him a few years back before we moved from Arkansas to South Dakota.  I could relate to some of the questions he raised back then about the Catholic faith.  I am one who studies what I believe and even questions it at times to make sure that what I believe is true.  After all, if it doesn't withstand scrutiny then why believe it?  I enjoy reading there and today in my perusal I ran across a reference to a story that Slate did about Joel Osteen.  I must admit that Mr. Osteen is one of those folks who have caught my attention on many occaisions for his lack of sound theology.  I heard the interview on Larry King where he said he doesn't talk about sin.  I have even taken the time to watch a couple of times when he was on TV.  I must say that I have always considered him dangerous in the sense that he gives enough of the truth to grab people and mislead them.  I think he fits the descriptions given in 2 Timothy of teachers who will say what their audience wants to hear.  There are several warnings in both 1 and 2 Timothy that fit the situation actually.  In any case, this story in Slate is fascinating because it is written by a publication that I am pretty sure no one would classify as religious.  As I have aged and matured, I have been less and less willing to pass judgment on believers whose doctrine didn't match mine completely, but only to the extent that those believers are still teaching the truth about the gospel of Christ.  That all men are sinners (yes, there is that word again), and that the only means of payment for that debt of sin before God is the blood of Jesus Christ who died for us on the cross and then rose from the dead on the third day.  If a "minister" is unwilling to even address sin or its consequences in our relationship with God then it is an automatic nonstarter with me.  Joel Osteen is preaching a gospel that reduces God to a personal assistant, or as the writer in Slate says, "This is a long, long way down the road from the inscrutable, infant-damning theology of this country's Calvinist forebears—it is, rather, a just-in-time economy's vision of salvation, an eerily collapsible spiritual narcissism that downgrades the divine image into the job description for a lifestyle concierge."  I am disturbed by this notion in part because this writer has hit on one of the things that has always bothered me in the health and wealth gospel.  There are certainly verses in the Bible that point to God's desire for us to do well and to be well, but there are plenty more that indicate that this is not the normal state of affairs for everyone.  Jesus said to His disciples that they would have trouble in this world (John 16:33).  Bible doctrine is no good if it isn't true to the whole counsel of Scripture.  I could go on but there are others who have said this much more succinctly.
I changed the name of this blog today.  I took the new name from this passage in 1 Kings 19:11-13:
11 The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
It is a reminder that God doesn't always speak or even often speak above the noise.  I need a place to put the random thoughts and musings that catch my eye, but don't fit in with the blogging that I do to keep our friends and family updated on life in general.