Biblical Separation Biblically Done, Pt 2

So, Joel Osteen and Rick Warren are going to appear tomorrow on Oprah’s Lifeclass.  Earlier I introduced this situation and today I want to give the “so what” of it.

To start it off here is one person’s comment regarding Joel and Rick’s appearance:

Lifeclass has had a ribbon of ‘healing’ ideas running through it from the beginning. It’s good to see a move toward Christ-consciousness amist all the New Thought talk Iyanla has been doing this season. I think viewers unfamiliar with Joel and Rick will be surprised at how well the ideas will all blend together.

I started watching Joel weekly since his Next Chapter interview, and it is a very uplifting half hour. Rick’s PDL book sits right next to my Myss, Williamson, Tolle, Dyer, Gita, Emerson, and mythology/astrology, history of religion books. We just kicked off his “40 Days in the Word” series at church this week. Gooood stuff. Different kind of Book Club ; )

When your book that is supposedly a Christian book sits comfortably beside astrology and mythology books as if they are one and the same that is baaaaaaad stuff.  To have your teachings be seen as so similar to the teachings of the New Thought and Eastern mysticism is not something about which to be pleased or proud.  It is something to weep over and spend a long time alone before God searching your heart.

Let’s be clear, a Christian can write a book or speak at a conference and yet not be Christian about it.  It is easy.  One can do the same things and include bible passages and yet not be biblical.  Even easier!  All you have to do is not have the foundation of your words and message be on Christ.  Talk all day long about God, but never draw in that critical point that Jesus is God in the flesh.  That He alone is able to reveal the Father to us.  And when I say “Christ” I mean the gospel, the good news that defines what Christianity is.  If your book on parenting is heavy on how-tos but never gets around to grounding parenting in the gospel then it might be handy but it is not Christian.  To quote bible verses and yet the words of your message are not as a result of those passages, rather the verses are merely appended afterward, don’t call that biblical.  Or, to use a passage but not use it rightly also means it is not biblical.  Just because you preach a sermon on David and Goliath and use that passage to talking about slaying the ‘giants’ in your life doesn’t mean you or your audience understands that passage.

This is where the rub is.  The bible clearly teaches that we are to avoid those who actively hold to false, differing doctrines. The most blunt is Paul in Galatians where he writes:

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!  As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!  For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men?If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:8-10)

Paul links the proclamation of the true gospel with trying to please man.  In other words, the gospel (though it is truly good news) is something that has the habit of not pleasing mankind.  Frankly it annoys them to the point of violence at worse and mocking at best.  It is not broad, it is very narrow.  There is but one way that man can be reconciled to God, and that is through Jesus, God in human flesh.  We are dead in our sins.  We are unable to please God. We are a people who have made it our life to not acknowledge God as God nor give thanks.  The result is that the judicial wrath of God rests upon us.

Where then is the hope?  How can we be right with God.  In Ephesians 2 we have in verse 4 two of the greatest words ever put together, “But God . . . .”  He goes on to say that it is through God’s love and grace we are saved through Jesus Christ.  Not out of our efforts but the pure grace of God.  How?  Because in Jesus salvation rests.  He died a unique death that was as our substitute.  As sinless man He took our sin and suffered our death.  As promised He was raised from the dead thus securing our salvation.  Sin’s power was death and he utterly demolished it.

This is the gospel in a basic form.  The call to mankind is to turn from their ways, their gods, their goodness and turn to God through Jesus by faith.  To reject a hope that is not utterly bound up in the person of Jesus, who is both the author and the finisher of our faith.  If you read a book on parenting and it is not founded on the sinful condition of you and your child and the need of the grace of God in both of you then you are not reading a Christian book on parenting.  In the same way, if you hear a message on how to have joy now and it is not thoroughly on the need to turn from sin and to God, to lay down your life and follow Jesus, and to embrace the promise of eternal life that God has given even in the midst of sorrows and suffering, then it is not a Christian message.  And that, my friends, is what you don’t hear from a person like Osteen and certainly not from Oprah.

Warren seems to know the gospel.  The problem is that it gets all tangled up in his vagaries of theology where he constantly shifts and moves rather than taking a clear, solid stand.  Get him among Arminians and he sounds Arminian, move him across the hall to a Reformed group and like magic he sounds more Reformed.  Did feminists just walk in?  No problem he has a gear for that change.  Trying to get him pinned down to what he constantly believes is as hard as trying to get him to just use one bible translation in his books.

But what makes this so bad is that he also chooses to snuggle up to people like Osteen and Oprah.  I have not heard him in the Lifeclass yet.  I am scheduling myself to watch the show and my hope is that Warren will aggressively put forth a clear declaration of the gospel.  Not a vague one that emphasizes man, but a Christ-exalting, blood-bought, sin-destroying, truth-magnifying gospel.  The kind that separates.  The kind that got the Apostle Paul kicked out of cities.  The kind Paul tells Timothy to not be ashamed of, but to embrace it and the suffering that it brings.

Too long on this second post already so I will continue this later…

About Matt Henry

Middle-aged pastor trying to figure out how to be missional in his world. Loves his wife, his children, and his dog Bear. I have a love of woodworking even though woodworking doesn't always love me. The name is xagete but is pronounced exegete.

Posted on October 4, 2012, in Bible Observations, Church, gospel, Theology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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