free flying soul

"this world has nothing for me and this world has everything...all that I could want and nothing that I need"

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Location: Macclesfield, North Carolina, United States

Born: 1970; Graduated High School: 1988; Married: 1991; Children: 1996, 2000, 2005; Graduated College: 2008; Figured Out This Faith Thing: In Progress

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Keep It Simple

HERE is the transcript from the Joel Osteen interview on Larry King Live. I won't cut and paste from it to prove my'll have to read it for yourself. Trust me, you won't be sorry...unless you are a fan.

Let me start off by saying that I was somewhat skeptical of Mr. Osteen to start with. Here is a guy whose only pastoral experience consisted of running the lights and sound for his Daddy's church. He admits that he has no sort of seminary training and that he doesn't use much scripture in his sermons. Am I the only one wondering how he became the pastor of the largest congregation in the United States? Over 30,000 people attend services at Lakewood Church. So many people come that they bought and converted the old Compaq Center in Houston, Texas into their new sanctuary. Mr. Osteen has also penned the #1 bestseller, Your Best Life Now.

I will be honest, I haven't read his book. I don't have the time to read the books that I REALLY want to read so this one has continued to pass me by. However, I have a feeling that I will be picking it up and thumbing through it out of morbid curiosity. Hey, I made it through the first three Left Behind books without slitting my wrists so this ought to be a walk in the park.

I have a second confession to make, I already don't like this book. All I've read are reviews and media blurbs, yet I already feel as if the book is a pimple on the face of Christianity. I guess that can be contributed to the fact that I think Mr. Osteen is watering down the Gospel of Christ and turning it into nothing more than a self-help program for hurting people. Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ transforms lives and heals those who are hurting. But it also points out the fact that we are sinners condemned to death and the cross is the ONLY thing that can remedy that. I fail to see Mr. Osteen mention that basic truth.

In fact, at one point during the interview, Larry King comes right out and asks Osteen if Jesus is the only way to God. He asks him if all other religions are wrong and Christianity is correct. Surely the pastor of the largest church in the USA answers the question correctly...doesn't he? I'll save you lazy folks the trouble of searching the transcript. Osteen says that he doesn't necessarily think that other religions were wrong. His cop out is that he doesn't judge anyone. He falls back on the claim that only God knows a person's heart. While that is true, we CAN state that those who don't call on the name of Jesus Christ are condemned to hell. Osteen refuses to do that. I don't want to presume his intentions but I can only guess that it isn't the way to draw 30,000 people every weekend.

Osteen admits that he doesn't use a lot of scripture in his sermons and that he doesn't dwell on sin. The people in his church are often emotionally and physically hurting and he doesn't feel as if he should be adding an additional burden to their suffering. He wasn't called to condemn people and preach the negative message of sin. He comes out and says that he wants to reach out to all people with a message of hope. He suggests that he can't do that by telling people that they are sinners.

1 Timothy 4:1-3 (NASB) says:

1I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

When I read that a preacher refuses to confront sin and admit that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to the Father, this verse comes to mind. It's no surprise that he packs the house when he doesn't touch the tough subjects. I've heard Amway presentations that packed more scripture in them than the messages of Joel Osteen. I don't think Osteen is bad guy, in fact, I think he's probably very sincere. I HOPE that he doesn't deliberately gloss over the message of Christ. I pray that he realizes that a Gospel without the cross of Christ is no kind of Gospel at all.


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