Sunday, February 06, 2005

Smiley Preaching Provokes Scowling Criticism

Internet Monk really really doesn't approve of Joel Osteen. He's the pastor of Lakewood Church, one of the Southern/Texas "magechurches" which claims a congregation in the thousands. I use to watch John Osteen on TBN, have seen Joel a few times. I thought them both good preachers, though not necessarily great. In other words, I'm knowledgeable, but not an expert, on Osteen.

Internet Monk asks the blogosphere to "devote at least one substantial post to outing Joel Osteen." In response, I offer the following:

(1) Internet Monk seems to be complaining about sins of omission, so to speak: Osteen is not a real pastor, he's not preaching a complete gospel. I'm skeptical that he's actually doing or teaching anything apostate.

(2) This church has supposedly 30,000 people. In my experiences with televised megachurches, alot goes on behind the scenes that isn't on TV, bible studies, cell groups, Sunday schools, etc. which nurture a congregation in more "meaty" doctrine.

(3) Internet Monk gives away alot by his collateral criticism of TBN, "Faith Movement" evangelist. This struck a chord with me. I came to the Lord by watching these shows and learned volumes of sound Christian doctrine and apologetics through these preachers. Yes, they preach prosperity doctrine, but there's alot more that they teach. Salvation by faith doctrine, indwelling of the holy spirit doctrine, bible-based morality doctrine, are all products of their teachings. In time, I included prosperity doctrine with other philosophical and spiritual principals: i.e God has created a benevolent universe for us, and can and will bless his children, but not without their objective recognition of and action in his universe; God prepared the conditions for our prosperity, and will prepare us to attain it and receive it, but God will not directly cause our prosperity.

(4) Although Internet Monk distinguishes between Osteen and "faith movement" preachers, his criticism of the latter appears to be based on the same animus. To Internet Monk, Osteen's doctrinal omissions, or perhaps slight mistakes, make him apostate. From what I can tell from his churches fundamental doctrine--found on his website--I'm not prepared to call him apostate.

(5) It's also suspect that Internet Monk is spending time critiquing a church to which he does not belong and which does not affect him. Granted, most blogosphere discourse is based on subjects with which were not directly involved. But with Internet Monk, it seems personal
I want to challenge the Christian Blogosphere to devote at least one substantial post to outing Joel Osteen. Why is a man who doesn't preach the gospel the most popular preacher in America? Are we going to take note of what kind of message is going to be identified as building the largest church in America? In short, who in the blogosphere is willing to stand up and say "Joel Osteen's message of positive thinking as a way to God's favor isn't the Christian Gospel."

Internet Monk wants Joel Osteen to change or go away. Why? If he's not explicitly contradicting what I believe, why should I stop him? If he's preaching an incomplete gospel, doesn't that give other evangelists a chance to complete it? There's a real puritanical, bridgeburning jihadist tone to what Internet Monk is proposing, that other people's beliefs affect the quality of his own spiritual world. Respectful to my brother in Christ, I take a different tack.


Mr. Spencer's claims that he does not want Joel Osteen to "change or go away". He has a very odd way of showing it.

Suppose you're a regular bible-believing Christian. You hear a preacher whom you believe to be a "Christian", not preaching incorrect doctrine. Yet you find his preaching to be milquetoast, not focusing enough on morally guidelines or non-subjective Christian principles.

Most of you would acknowledge that preacher's ministry, but favor another preacher instead, and use the Wall Street Rule/Vote-With-Your-Feet Principle: i.e. don't listen to the sermon. But not Mr. Spencer, who literally believes it is his God-given mission in life to criticize other Christians. He insist that we all start a blog-campaign criticising Pastor Osteen for what he's not doing, and that what he's not doing is somehow watering-down Christianity.

He says of Osteen: He will represent evangelicalism with his big smile and a message that would make Screwtape shout "Amen! Preach it brother." . . .It makes me angry and I want to do something." If he wants to do something, then why doesn't he rent out the Compaq Center and preach it the right way?

I, for one, am not going to criticize great people, who do great things, for not doing them greater. I'm not going to nitpick the soul-saving preaching of God's word
with Adrian Monk obsessive-compulsiveness. Nothing but good can come from 30,000 people attending non-heretical Christian church on Sunday morning, even if it isn't as much good as Mr. Spencer would prefer God to produce for him.


At 6:36 PM, Blogger Michael Spencer said...

>Internet Monk wants Joel Osteen to change or go away.

Absolutely not true. I asked very directly for bloggers who agreed with my assessment that Osteen is not an evangelical to say so. IOW, I want him identified. Find one sentence where I said I wanted him to change or go away.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Daniel James Devine said...

Have either of you read Osteen's latest book? I haven't, but maybe we all should. Then we could judge his message in context and prove in his own words whether he's really preaching the Bible or pop psychology.

At 11:50 AM, Blogger Chris T. said...

Have either of you read Osteen's latest book? I haven't, but maybe we all should. Then we could judge his message in context and prove in his own words whether he's really preaching the Bible or pop psychology.See, what I mentioned over at my blog was that I think Osteen is preaching in a pop psychology mode, but I think it masks fairly biblical preaching. He's speaking in a way that Americans understand, and it looks like self-help to a lot of people outside Lakewood, but ultimately, Osteen's preaching asks his listeners to look outside themselves and make themselves vulnerable to the suffering of others.


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