Saturday, November 19, 2005

SL - "Feel Good" Evangelism

Joel Osteen, the pastor of a church that averages 30,000 attendees every Sunday, avoids questions about controversial theology, instead telling people that God simply wants Christians to “live [their] lives happy.” (Beliefnet.com) This feel-good evangelism might create many “converts,” however, it robs these “converts” of a true knowledge and understanding of God, to the point that they might not even understand how God saves them from sin. C.S. Lewis said “theology is like a map,” (136) and although it does not have the same charm and beauty as the real place it represents, without that map someone could not understand a place as well as he could with a map. In some cases, a person needs a map so that he can even understand where he stands. The Westminster Catechism reminds Christians that the chief end of man “is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” However, if a Christian has no understanding of God’s Holiness and his own sin, he cannot glorify God to the fullest.

Many pastors today avoid preaching on topics like sin and hell, because they desire for people to remain comfortable and feel happy. The problem comes when someone sees himself as fairly good, and sees God as only a great “grandfather in heaven,” (Surprised by Joy) whom can they can pray to whenever they need anything. A Christian who, instead, understands the depth of his own sin and stands utterly amazed at God’s grace, can further glorify God through that understanding of theology. If he recognizes his own sin, God becomes greater, and he becomes appropriately smaller. Without theology, Christians can develop a distorted view of God and themselves, which will ultimately dilute the depths of relationship they could have with God through Christ.

8 Comments:

At 4:28 PM, Blogger Karen Kovaka said...

In The Problem of Pain, Lewis speaks of a 'terrifying truth' - that we are the objects of God's love.

Being lived by God entails so much more than most people think. 'Those whom God loves he disciplines,' for examples

 
At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Ian Michaud said...

Awesome post; I couldn't agree with you more! Many people want to totally forget "the fear of the Lord", and have thus become fools who sadly will not inherit the kingdom of Heaven.

"The fear of the Lord leads to life..." (Pr 19:23).

 
At 3:31 PM, Blogger Lindsey said...

So true! Amen! Keep up the awesome work!

 
At 1:02 PM, Blogger Mr. Ed said...

I would just caution that as someone approaches this subject of Joel Osteen and his Houston church, that you look further into his writings and his church's ministries.

I personally do not favor his book "Your Best Life Now", but his ministry is legitimate, in that it attracts the attention of large numbers of people on the fringe, those who would not normally step into a normal church. (His church is housed in a downtown former sports arena)

While I totally understand the value of theological meat and discipleship, the initial drawing of the non-believer is an art form that few of us will ever master. Even Jesus himself spoke in riddles and parables that started vague but when you got close to him, he moved beyond the teaching of "loving your neighbor" and loving God, to more visceral subjects. Joel Osteen's ministry is very effective for it's purpose, and while i would personally preach with more aptitude and depth, he is a wise and gifted spiritual leader following what he believes is God's call. And as long as he does not PERVERT or harm the cause of the gospel, I will not complain.

 
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