Friday, February 11, 2005

The end of preaching and discipleship

Alex at dulcius ex asperis comments on the theology of Joel Osteen's preaching. While I'm not taking sides on that particular issue, Alex raises a point critical to preaching and Christian discipleship in general. The tendency of fallen human beings is to want to appropriate God as a means to our ends. That is heresy, and it is precisely the problem Alex finds in Mr. Osteen's preaching:

The problem . . . is not so much that he doesn’t preach the Gospel as he instrumentalizes God. And he isn’t the first one. There is a significant stream of Christian tradition that runs up through much of modern-day evangelicalism that does exactly this. Jesus is offered as a cure for all the ills of mankind. Is your marriage in shambles? Well, just “give your life to Jesus” and He’ll fix everything. Are you wasting away from cancer? Pray harder to Jesus and He’ll heal you.

For many of us pragmatic Americans, we are concerned with the how rather than the who. . . . We already know who is important: it’s me. We want to know now how this “me” can fulfill itself. In Osteen’s gospel, Jesus is entirely peripheral. Sure, he might have sound doctrinal statements buried deep within the digital recesses of his website somewhere; but these things and the Person they point to are entirely peripheral. Anything that pushes Jesus to the margins is a heresy.

What can we do about it? Here's Alex:

We must start asking the question of who first over the how. . . . The priority of who means that we must be willing to get into messy, unpredictable and painful relationships, especially in the case of our Triune God. Because He is the end. He is our great reward and our true happiness.

Amen.

2 Comments:

Blogger keith said...

And Amen!

9:22 AM, February 11, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Keith, I'm honored that someone in Burkina Faso is reading a post by an ole boy in Tennessee! Peace.

6:17 AM, February 12, 2005  

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