Monday, September 24, 2007

Issues, Etc. Visits Osteen's Church

Have you ever caught Joel Osteen preaching on TV? This leader of the largest megachurch in America always appears on a large stage (the church is the former home of the Houston Rockets) with a gigantic, spinning golden globe behind him. I’ve always thought that odd.

In July of this year, Pastor Todd Wilkin, host of the terrific radio show Issues, Etc., and a friend visited Osteen’s Lakewood Community Church. They were awestruck at what they saw: a slick choreographed performance, an incredible praise band better than most rock bands—even The Who—and, as they expected, some very troubling things. (Go to the Issues, Etc. archives for July 2007 and search for the July 17 show to hear all about it.)

One of the most important things: No cross. Every church I’ve every been in has had a cross placed front and center, regardless of whether that church was Lutheran, Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc. But not Lakewood; instead there is that spinning golden globe. There is also no altar. No baptismal font. In fact, Wilkin and his friend failed to spot a single cross anywhere in Lakewood.

Why should this be troubling? Ask this: when a man who is supposed to be a Christian teacher preaches, is he glorifying Jesus Christ, or is he glorifying himself?

Wilkin's takedowns of Osteen's sermons are also devastating, too. He's not being mean or attacking Osten himself, but Osteen' theology.

I'm not singling out Osteen per say, but using him to illustrate how far American Christianity has strayed from the gospel. To that end, over the next several posts I'll be writing about a series we're doing at my church based on a book written by Pastor John Keischnick, from Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Houston.

I’ve been wary of doing book- and video-based series ever since we did Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life some years ago. But this series on The Best Is Yet To Come: 7 Doors of SPiritual Growth is excellent: It’s Christ-focused from start to finish. It puts the focus of church and daily worship right where it belongs, and helps Christians really see how the “best” really is yet to come.

So, um, more to come!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Evangelical criticism

An excellent piece from Richard Mouw of Fuller Theological Seminary reminds us that when we discuss theological error, focus on the false teachings and not the teacher:

"We want to oppose false teachers because they do not teach things that are true. But if in our attempts to defeat them we play fast and loose with the truth, by attributing to them things that they don’t in fact teach and if we don’t really care whether we have it exactly right or not then we have become false teachers: teachers of untruths!

I suggest this as a rule of thumb: focus on false teachings rather than on false teachers. When we concentrate on opposing false teachers we tend to think about defeating people which can lead to all kinds of dangers. When we concentrate on the careful examination of false teachings we are more aware of the need to speak
He’s right. Sinner and wretch that I am, I’m critical of teachings that I believe are thoroughly unbiblical and are leading Christians astray. I must remember to not question someone’s faith, only their teachings.

(Hat tip to Evangelical Outpost.)