Saturday, August 13, 2005

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Criticizing Pastors

A glance through my blog’s entries of the last few months made me wonder if I was some kind of “Pastor-basher.” Negative critiques of the clown pastor, the Elvis pastor and the “I Don’t Know” pastor make it look like I am on some kind of crusade!

Far from it.

My passion is for the glory of God – and one of the primary ways God’s glory is seen is in the faithful proclamation and living out of the Word of God.

My point in highlighting these three was to try and set in bold relief the distinction between what is acceptable and what is not in the eyes of God. These are confusing, watery and shifty days we live in and I am more convinced than ever that specific statements of what is true and what is false are necessary in order to help us think clearly.

Our scheming Enemy’s primary weapon against the church is un-Truth – and the saint’s defense against his attacks begins with the “belt of Truth.” The church needs to be a encompassed, supported and held together by Truth. (See Ephesians 6!)

Of course the world is attacking the very notion that anything can be truly “known.” The world is opposed to God and Satan himself brought his first successful attack against humanity by questioning the veracity of God. If Truth cannot be known, then “every man will do what is right in his own eyes.”

These foolish men who do not preach nor stand for Truth are (unwittingly perhaps) being used to further erode the true progress of the gospel.

I expect some will find those statements judgmental and narrow. You are welcome to comment!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Pastor Ignorant - Joel Osteen Just Doesn't Know!

In contrast to a recent blog I posted of Martin Lloyd-Jones preaching about the fact that some things are true and some things are not, I here offer several excerpts from a recent Larry King interview (June 20, 2005). King was interviewing Joel Osteen, in his words "evangelicalism's hottest rising star." King also referred to him as "the smiling pastor..." I think a better name would be the "I don't know pastor." Or, "Captain Double-Speak." I could go on...

Some quotes:

KING: But don't you think if people don't believe as you believe, they're somehow condemned?

OSTEEN: You know, I think that happens in our society. But I try not to do that. I tell people all the time, preached a couple Sundays about it. I'm for everybody. You may not agree with me, but to me it's not my job to try to straighten everybody out. The Gospel called the good news. My message is a message of hope, that's God's for you. You can live a good life no matter what's happened to you. And so I don't know. I know there is condemnation but I don't feel that's my place.


KING: Because we've had ministers on who said, your record don't count. You either believe in Christ or you don't. If you believe in Christ, you are, you are going to heaven. And if you don't no matter what you've done in your life, you ain't.

OSTEEN: Yeah, I don't know. There's probably a balance between. I believe you have to know Christ. But I think that if you know Christ, if you're a believer in God, you're going to have some good works. I think it's a cop-out to say I'm a Christian but I don't ever do anything ...

KING: What if you're Jewish or Muslim, you don't accept Christ at all?

OSTEEN: You know, I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know ...

KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They're wrong, aren't they?

OSTEEN: Well, I don't know if I believe they're wrong. I believe here's what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God with judge a person's heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don't know. I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.


KING: How about issues that the church has feelings about? Abortion? Same-sex marriages?

OSTEEN: Yeah. You know what, Larry? I don't go there. I just ...

KING: You have thoughts, though.

OSTEEN: I have thoughts. I just, you know, I don't think that a same-sex marriage is the way God intended it to be. I don't think abortion is the best. I think there are other, you know, a better way to live your life. But I'm not going to condemn those people. I tell them all the time our church is open for everybody.

KING: You don't call them sinners?

OSTEEN: I don't.

KING: Is that a word you don't use?

OSTEEN: I don't use it. I never thought about it. But I probably don't. But most people already know what they're doing wrong. When I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change. There can be a difference in your life. So I don't go down the road of condemning.

KING: You believe in the Bible literally?

OSTEEN: I do, I do.

KING: Noah had an ark and Adam and Eve?

OSTEEN: I do. I do. I believe that. I believe it all.


KING: Phoenix, Arizona. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. You're the best, and thank you, Joe -- Joel -- for your positive messages and your book. I'm wondering, though, why you side-stepped Larry's earlier question about how we get to heaven? The bible clearly tells us that Jesus is the way, the truth and the light and the only way to the father is through him. That's not really a message of condemnation but of truth.

OSTEEN: Yes, I would agree with her. I believe that...

KING: So then a Jew is not going to heaven?

OSTEEN: No. Here's my thing, Larry, is I can't judge somebody's heart. You know? Only god can look at somebody's heart, and so -- I don't know. To me, it's not my business to say, you know, this one is or this one isn't. I just say, here's what the bible teaches and I'm going to put my faith in Christ. And I just I think it's wrong when you go around saying, you're saying you're not going, you're not going, you're not going, because it's not exactly my way. I'm just...

KING: But you believe your way.

OSTEEN: I believe my way. I believe my way with all my heart.

KING: But for someone who doesn't share it is wrong, isn't he?

OSTEEN: Well, yes. Well, I don't know if I look at it like that. I would present my way, but I'm just going to let god be the judge of that. I don't know. I don't know.

KING: So you make no judgment on anyone?

OSTEEN: No. But I...

KING: What about atheists?

OSTEEN: You know what, I'm going to let someone -- I'm going to let god be the judge of who goes to heaven and hell. I just -- again, I present the truth, and I say it every week. You know, I believe it's a relationship with Jesus. But you know what? I'm not going to go around telling everybody else if they don't want to believe that that's going to be their choice. God's got to look at your own heart. God's got to look at your heart, and only god knows that.

KING: You believe there's a place called heaven?

OSTEEN: I believe there is. Yes. You know, you've had a lot of the near-death experiences and things like that. Some of that is very, to me, not that you need that as proof, but it shows you these little kids seeing the angels and things like that.

Osteen said "I don't know" 26 times (by my quick count) in the interview, roughly 90% of which were in answer to serious life and death questions! If he does not know who goes to heaven and who does not, what the essence of the Gospel is, what makes one man pleasing to God and another not - then he should go back to producing videos and get out of preaching the Gospel. This is nothing short of a deceptive false-humility.

All quotes from here.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Hymn From the Sermon

Some folks asked me for the words of the hymn I quoted in this morning's sermon. Here it is...

Lovest Thou Me?
John Newton – Olney Hymnal – Hymn 148
(Jn 21:16)

’Tis a point I long to know,
Oft it causes anxious thought;
Do I love the LORD, or no?
Am I his, or am I not?

If I love, why am I thus?
Why this dull and lifeless frame?
Hardly, sure, can they be worse,
Who have never heard his name!

Could my heart so hard remain,
Prayer a task and burden prove;
Every trifle give me pain,
If I knew a Savior’s love?

When I turn my eyes within,
All is dark, and vain, and wild;
Filled with unbelief and sin,
Can I deem myself a child?

If I pray, or hear, or read,
Sin is mixed with all I do;
You that love the LORD indeed,
Tell me, Is it thus with you?

Yet I mourn my stubborn will,
Find my sin, a grief, and thrall;
Should I grieve for what I feel,
If I did not love at all?

Could I joy his saints to meet,
Choose the ways I once abhorred,
Find, at times, the promise sweet,
If I did not love the LORD?

Lord decide the doubtful case!
Thou who art thy people’s sun;
Shine upon thy work of grace,
If it be indeed begun.

Let me love thee more and more,
If I love at all, I pray;
If I have not loved before,
Help me to begin today.