Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What have we become? A Christian Bookstore

Today my wife and I traveled to a Christian bookstore. I love going to Christian bookstores for several reason, not the least of these is to look at the reference section. Lexicons, commentaries... you get the point. But on to the important issue. Walking down row of shelves, the only row of shelves, I saw one labeled Christian living, then one labeled encouragement. At the top in the middle of this second shelf was Joel Ostseen's book "Your Best Life Now" *Sigh* I thought well, despite my feelings of Joel's message I can understand why a retail store would sell him, because people will buy it. And resolving to move on, frustrated I began to walk away, until I saw something that made me explode inside. On the bottom shelf, were two books, by John Piper : "The passion of Jesus Christ" and "Don't Waste Your Life." These books were place on the bottom, at the place where we might as well be stepping on them! Do you understand the Picture here. We have the Teacher of aberrant Theology about you living YOUR best Life right where we can see it close to our faces, and Good theology is at our feet, ready to be walked on. Do you understand that?

We live in a day where people would rather buy
Joel FREAKING Olsteen telling you how to Live Well
John Piper Telling you how to Best Live for Christ
Or Tell you about How Christ Lived

And We Wonder Why People in

Mock Christians


I would wager that few if any Non-Christians would bye John Piper's Writings
Yet, Many Would Buy Joel's Book

So What You Ask?

We Live In A "christian" culture where heresy abounds and sound doctrine fades.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
(2 Timothy 4:3-4)


HiddenSquire said...

"I would wager that few if any Non-Christians would buy John Piper's Writings
Yet, Many Would Buy Joel's Book"

Old friend, I ask you to spend a little more time considering why that might be. A strong Christian message is very effective on other Christians and those non-Christians who are already strongly leaning towards Christianity. To everyone else, it either comes off as offensive or as too loaded down with theology to apply to them (and thus boring, confusing or both). Even though to us, a strong Christian message seems very simple and straightforward, it's not necessarily so for others. I'll tell you this: my fall away from Christianity has given me valuable insight into the perspective of the lost. I regret many of the things I did in high school. Yes, I inspired a lot of Christians, but I also pushed a lot of secular people away. For some, a watered-down message is the only thing they will listen to, and that's certainly better than nothing, wouldn't you agree? Then, when someone's interest gets sparked by that, they dig deeper and gradually become more and more tolerant to the stronger stuff. Someone who is truly interested and truly seeking WILL look at the bottom shelf, just like you did. However, much of the secular world does not have that kind of patience (especially if they find themselves in a Christian bookstore), and so the store presents the message most likely to reach them in an easier to find place, see?

Just this evening, I happened to catch a feature on the news (CNN Prime News, to be exact) in which Joel Ostseen was grilled about the fact that so many Christian critics find his message to be watered down. His response generally affirmed my above assertion that he's merely trying to reach those people who are harder to reach. He seemed quite genuine in his own Christian faith, and I think his heart is in the right place. Not to say that I'm planning on buying one of his books or anything, but...

Ken Cook said...

It is Wonderful to hear from you my friend, Merry Christmas.

I do think that Joel is quite honest to his own christian faith. However, I don't think that His christian faith is the` Christian faith. Joel teaches something that looks a lot like self help, with biblical principals and calls it 'christian' but you and I both know that what he is pedaling isn't biblical Christianity. Joel Teaches that we should be living, " Your best life now." Paul of Tarsus taught that we should rejoice in our suffering.

So when you say that a watered down message is better then no message, I would say 100% without any pause, that the statement is false. I would rather a person not hear the message, then hear a false message, that gives them a false hope, that then causes them to become cold to the true message.

HiddenSquire said...

Merry Christmas.

It seems we're operating on different definitions of "a watered down Christian message." To me, it means an inspiring message laced with hints of sound Christian doctrine. To you, it means an inspiring message that hints that you don't necessarily need Christ for salvation. Tell me, which is Joel Ostseen doing? (I ask because I honestly don't know, having read/heard none of his actual sermons.) The difference is subtle, but significant.

Yes, Paul taught us to rejoice in our suffering, but, does that mean we can't also rejoice in the more traditional things that cause one to be joyful?

Ken Cook said...

I have FORCED myself to watch Joel preach, his silver tongue is easy on the ears but his theology causes me to burn to the core.

To answer your question, I think that it is neither, not that your question is a false dilemma, but I feel that while the second more describes what I was saying that isn't the whole of the issue. I think that frankly Christ is far from Joel's mind. I don't think that the message that a person hears from Joel is the gospel as defined by Paul in 1 Cor. 15:1-4.

Look at the outline for his book.

• One: Enlarge your vision

• Two: Develop a healthy self-image

• Three: Discover the power of your thoughts and words

• Four: Let go of the past

• Five: Find strength through adversity

• Six: Live to give

• Seven: Choose to be happy

This has nothing to do with Christ, and nothing, in my opinion, to do with Christianity.

One commentator (Daryl Wingerd, a pastor and writer/commentator on Christian books)says this," If you want to read a book in which discontentment is encouraged, a book that shows God to be powerless apart from your power-filled thoughts and words, a book in which sin is minimized and renamed in every conceivable way, and a supposedly Christian book that gives only trivial mention to Jesus Christ, Your Best Life Now is the book for you."

Any man who minimizes sin and has a seemingly weak view of God and Christ, can't be someone you want to teach and lead you.

HiddenSquire said...

Your opening reply proves that you care WAY more about this than I do, which shouldn't be surprising, I guess.

I've learned not to trust the word of random critics on ANY subject, let alone Christian reading. For all we know, Daryl has a somewhat twisted perspective. Consider when he addresses the issue of the power of thought: is he really making a fair complaint? In reality, God is less noticeable in your life depending on your way of thinking. Also, "power-filled thinking" can be another way of describing faith, which is... ah... pretty important, I hear.

Glancing over Google's book preview now, it seems more like a book for people who are already Christians than for anyone else. This would explain the lack of an extended salvation message. There are a ton of Christian books out there which do the same thing simply because salvation is not the subject of the book.

I find it interesting that you said the theology in his sermon burnt you to the core, but then failed to elaborate much on it, instead going on to pick on his book. Perhaps you were so frustrated by so many things that you didn't know where to begin? It's clear that he doesn't present the gospel in every single one of his messages.

I mean, I'm not saying that you're wrong. However, I am saying there might be a possibility that you are wrong, simply for the purpose of teaching you how to look at the world through yet another lens, if only for a moment. Even I have trouble putting myself into other peoples' shoes sometimes, and it can help to hear another's perspective (or, in my case, pure and utter conjecture for the hell of it). I guess, more than anything, I'm just sensing that you're taking on extreme conservative views in general (your wife, too) and I'm kind of trying to... balance that out a bit.

Ken Cook said...

First, I have read several other of Daryl's comments on other books, and have found him to be pretty accurate.

Also, My issue with Joel, is that i don't think the man truly understands Christian theology. He preaches the same message that he gives in his book, You are a Good person, God loves you, God will make you Happy. He looks at Christianity as something to make your life better, which is not found anywhere in scripture.

The Apostle Paul, was scourged 5 times, shipwrecked 3 times, he lived in poverty spent years chained to a Roman soldier and was eventually killed for his beliefs. Was he living his Best Life Now?

Joel has turned the message of Christ from : Jesus came to pay the price for your sin's, to Jesus came to make your life better.

We are talking about the difference between Forgiveness of Sin and Life Improvement.

Now, to Joel's Credit, i heard him last night on Larry King Live, and he said that Hell is a Literal Place where people will go. And I don't know if he said that it will be people who die without Christ, or if he said something more in line with the Third Wave Movement. Nevertheless, He can make some good comments, I just think that they are few and far between.

HiddenSquire said...

Well then, I think I am satisfied enough.

Ken Cook said...

I thought that it would be best for me to give you some of the things Joel has said, some good, some bad, some very bad.

It's God's will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty. It's God's will for you to pay your bills and not be in debt. - Joel Osteen

Faith activates God - Fear activates the Enemy. - Joel Osteen

Yet, the Bible says:

Pro 19:23 The fear of the LORD leads to life...

Pro 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

They are many others to this same effect in proverbs, but I figure a couple will show my issue with this quote.

There are some positive ones.