Thursday, September 21, 2006

JOEL OSTEEN: The Smiling Orator

Michael Spencer (aka iMonk), one of the bestist critical thinkers in God Blogdom has another well reasoned piece up on the man whose botox treatments give him a permanent smile - the effervescent Joel Osteen. [See his earlier post here]

Guess which is which ...

Spencer, who needs botox, says ...
I've continued watching Joel Osteen's preaching at least twice a month for the past year. I've also continued to read his interviews and commentaries as they have appeared on the Internet.

Since Osteen has, on at least one occasion, issued a statement clarifying his personal commitment to some form of orthodox Christian belief, I had some hopes that whatever attention was paid to Osteen's beliefs might show up in more attention to the Gospel in Osteen's message.
I also wrote on Joel Osteen some time ago, voicing my concern too many were jumping on when a guy was down. Standing firmly on Romans 14:4, I refused to jump in at that time!

But I too have found what Spencer sees as true of this year's Joel Von Huston.
This has not been the case, and Osteen has continued his trajectory away from any recognizable form of evangelicalism [NOTE: I question Michael's use of that term].

In his speaking and writing, Osteen continues to be a positive thinking guru and motivational speaker who uses the trappings of a Christian pastor and preacher to tap into a gullible, compromised audience whose great commonality seems to be their agreement that Joel is personally charming and "Your Best Life Now" sounds a lot more interesting than "take up your cross and follow me."
That last statement reveals a truth about the iMonk: he is a brilliant thinker and communicator, something I can only hope to be.
My concern about Osteen is centered in Osteen's refusal to articulate the Gospel, but to instead give a positive thinking philosophy of motivation and success framed with a few Biblical references.

While Osteen claims that the cross is the basis for his faith, his messages and books have no more of the cross in them than the messages of a Muslim or a Buddhist.

Doctrines such as the incarnation, depravity, repentance, faith in Christ alone, the atonement, and taking up the cross are invisible in Osteen's ministry. This is not an accident.

Osteen appears to be continuing on his chosen trajectory to become the most influential preacher on the planet by abandoning the Christian faith in favor of a very American and very Christless message of salvation from a bad life by positive thinking and behavior change. Osteen's charm and good looks have won over millions ...
The CRIB is pleased to see a theme of its ministry echoed by Spencer ...
... most evangelicals are too mired in the materialism and "good life" pursuits at the root of Osteen's message to effectively challenge him.

Conservative evangelicals are strangely silent about Osteen, even though he outdoes liberals, mystics, the emerging church and many outright apostates in his abandonment of the Gospel.
The first point above is axiomatic as far as I'm concerned, I struggle with it myself. But I disagree with Michael on the latter point. I don't think we've been "strangely silent" at all. In fact an analysis of the topic would most likely bear out a great deal of complaint about him in authentic Christianity ... and therein lies the problem.

We live with an exaggerated belief that evangelical Christianity and authentic Christianity are one in the same. They are not! It is a myth foisted on us by MSM and faulty polling questions!
One of the reasons I am a post-evangelical is that I see little evidence that evangelicalism has the ability to separate itself from a successful minister who threw the Gospel ... away in order to be popular. Osteen is the present and the future of evangelicalism. If this is where we’re going, you can have him, and the whole movement.
Every time I've listened to Osteen I get sucked in to his charm and the motivational power of his message. I have to pull myself away to keep from agreeing with him.

What pulls me away is the realization that he has said nothing of the person or works of Jesus my Lord or their blessed application to my life or the eternal needs of my loved ones and church.

Spencer closes with "a summary"
of his criticisms of Osteen." I couldn't agree more. But you'll have to scoot over there to read them ... I need to go to bed!

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Between Two Worlds
Buzzard Blog
Drinking Deeply
Young Evangelical

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:35 PM

    I totally agree from a disilusioned evangelical pentecostal who thins the God Channel has preachers who are brain washing christians/ deceiving the elect