The fun part about being a theology and doctrine wonk is my complete inability to be relevant in 21st century America.
Many years ago I took the advice of C.S. Lewis regarding the reading of old books and have rarely read a work of Christian writing that is less than 300 to 500 years old. Silly me, I thought this was supposed to help me become a better Bible teacher. How was I supposed to know that American Christians are not interested in what the Bible teaches? They just want to be rich, successful and feel good about themselves.
The newest star rising on the Christian horizon (move over Rick Warren) is Pastor Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Huston Texas. This guy has got the message that every itching ear is dying to hear (2 Tim 4:3). He has a best selling book on the market called, “Your Best Life Now: A Guide to Reaching Your Full Potential”. His sermons which are broadcast around the globe focus on the theme “Discover the Champion In You” and include such topics as ‘Improving Your Self Image With Words” and “Feeling Good About Who You Are”.
How does one improve their self-image or feel good about who they are? According to Osteen (notice that I didn’t say ‘according to the Bible’), the words you use can either bless your life or curse your life. He recommends positive self-talk, much the same way Anthony Robbins encourages daily ‘incantations’ to alter your mental state and set a positive course for your life.
Yup, you read that correctly. Joel Osteen’s teachings are the SAME as what Anthony Robbins calls ‘daily incantations’.
Compare these sound bites.
Sound Bite Montage – From His Sermon “Improve Your Self Image With Words”
After listening to these sound bites ask yourself these questions…
1. Are there any significant differences between what Anthony Robbins teaches and what Joel Osteen Teaches?
2. Is Osteen just baptizing Anthony Robbins' teaching with 'Bible' verses?
3. Who or what was the focus of Joel’s Sermon?
4. Which of the books of the Bible, or which of the Apostles teaches us that mankind’s problem is that people have ‘poor self-images’?
5. Did Jesus teach ‘positive self-talk’?
6. What does ‘positive self-talk’ have to do with the cross of Christ and the message of the gospel?
7. Is this appropriate material for a pastor to teach in a Christian church on a Sunday morning? Why or Why Not?
For my two-cents please listen to the Extreme Sunday School Lesson entitled “The Current State of American Christianity”.
For a more complete critique of Osteen’s Sermon Please listen to this sermon review from the Issues Etc. Radio program. Todd Wilken does a magnificent job of evaluating this teaching from a ‘Christ-Centered & Cross Focused” standard. Click here to listen.
If you would like to hear what a GREAT sermon sounds like using this standard Click here.