UPDATED 14:02 5 Feb 2013
So says YRR (Young, Restless, and Reformed) leader Mark Driscoll in an interview (regarding his forthcoming book) published by the TGC:
Q: You observe that “appreciated people” exchange grumbling for praying, competing for celebrating, bitterness for thankfulness, performing for serving, and boasting for encouraging. What’s an “appreciated person”? Isn’t that what Joel Osteen wants me to be?
A: I am aware of the theological differences that exist between our tribe and Pastor Joel. I also know my Reformed brothers like to treat Pastor Joel like a piñata, but there are worse things than being happy and encouraging at a time when the most common prescription medications are antidepressants. A few guys in our tribe could learn to talk about something other than painful, arduous suffering once and a while—if nothing else than for the sake of variety. Our identity is not in our joy, and our identity is not in our suffering. Our identity is in Christ, whether we have joy or are suffering.
So, there are two utterly competing accounts of Joel Osteen’s message before us. Either Osteen’s is a false gospel or he has been misunderstood. James Gilmore, author of The Experience Economy, has produced a scorecard by which to evaluate Osteen’s message. The key phrases under the Osteen column are telling. More pointedly, Mike Horton writes:
Make no mistake about it, behind all of the smiles, there is a thorough-going religion of works-righteousness: “God’s plan for each of our lives is that we continually rise to new levels. But how high we go in life, and how much of God’s favor and blessings we experience, will be directly related to how well we follow His directions.” God “is waiting for your obedience so He can release more of His favor and blessings in your life…My question to you is: How high do you want to rise? Do you want to continue to increase? Do you want to see more of God’s blessings and favor? If so, the higher we go, the more disciplined we must be; the quicker we must obey.” “You don’t get the grace unless you step out. You have to make the first move. God will see that step of faith and He’ll give you supernatural strength to help you overcome any obstacles standing in the way of doing the right thing…Remember: How high you go in life will be directly related to how obedient your are.”
According to Brian Lee, what it missing from Osteen’s message is any account of sin:
It is not primarily the details of Osteen’s biblical sunbeams that are problematic. It’s the overall message. What’s missing is any sense of human sin. Osteen leads his crowd in a mantra at the opening of his performance: “This is my Bible. Tonight I will be taught the word of God. I can do what it says I can do.” Again, bootstraps.
That struck me too. As I read Driscoll’s comments I was thinking “What about Romans 7?”
We aren’t surprised that Joel Osteen corrupts the Christian faith. What is surprising is that a leader of the YRR movement seems to miss that.
Apparently Driscoll’s views on Osteen’s value as a piñata have shifted.
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