I wasn’t going to post these here, but Mark’s recent Fortune Cookie Sermons post made me do it.
A little parody with too much truth in it to be really funny.
It is a sad day when some within evangelicalism would classify Joel Osteen as an evangelical Christian. There is no room in Scripture for waffling on the gospel. A person who claims to be a minister of the gospel and yet claim that he doesn’t know whether Jews, Muslims, or Hindus would go to hell if they do not believe in Jesus Christ alone is not worthy to be a minister, and according to Scripture this man is not even a true believer himself. His teaching is nothing short of heresy. True believers, be warned of this wolf in sheep’s clothing. Dr. Steve Lawson does an excellent job addressing Osteen’s waffles.
In most cases, when you hear the phrase “celebrity pastor,” you tend to think of individuals like Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Steven Furtick or Ed Young, Jr. In each one of these cases, if you are one who believes that preachers should actually preach the Word of God, you probably get a very bad taste in your mouth. You immediately want to scream, “False teachers! Away with them!!” And quite honestly, that’s how I feel too. But there is another kind of celebrity preacher, one that many of us don’t realize is a celebrity. But yet, they are celebrities because folks like you and me have made them into celebrities. Yes, that’s right, I said we made them that way. Those of us who appreciate sound, biblical preaching, who detest the seeker friendly, rockstar image of those “other” pastors, we have celebrities of our own. And that can be a problem.
Many of us greatly appreciate the preaching of godly men like R. C. Sproul, John MacArthur, James White, David Platt and Voddie Baucham. We are blessed to hear these men rightly exposit the Word of God. We love how they take great time and care to preach the Word in context so that God is magnified and we rightly understand our need for His forgiveness through Jesus Christ. So much do we appreciate their godly work that we listen to countless sermons online (or on our iPods), we read the books they have written, we share copious quotes from them via Facebook and Twitter. We even will go to conferences, sometimes at great expense to our finances and time, so that we can hear them magnificently handle the Word of God. And, without even realizing it, we have created them in our minds as the “ideal” preacher, the kind that these rockstar pastors should really model themselves after. In other words, they have become a celebrity in our mind.
This is not to say that good godly preachers like these should not be esteemed. It is a rare treasure these days, it seems, to find a pastor who is willing to be in the public view that will unashamedly stand on the Word of God. We should give them due respect for their duty and devotion to Jesus Christ, for their unflinching stance for the preaching of the true gospel. What I am talking about is that we actually may create an unhealthy, or at least unbalanced, image of these men when compared to the local church. Think through this with me for a moment, how many times have you shared or tweeted quotes from your pastor? You know, the man who has faithfully preached in the same pulpit for five, ten, or even twenty years. Do you follow him on Facebook or Twitter? Do you wish he would at least get with the times to get on Facebook or Twitter like the other guys do? Have you ever stopped and told your pastor about the great sermon that R. C. Sproul preached, or recommended that he read the latest book by David Platt? Have you spent an inordinate amount of time talking to people in your congregation about the conference you just came back from where John MacArthur was the keynote speaker, or complained that you couldn’t go to it at all?
Imagine yourself in the place of your pastor. He’s not famous. Maybe he only has a congregation of a couple hundred people, maybe it’s only fifty. He spends all week preparing a sermon meant for you and those you attend church with. He loses several hours of sleep each week when he is called out to the hospital to minister to a dying parishioner, to counsel a loved one who is severely depressed, to comfort family who lost a child in an accident. He’s never written a book, he doesn’t have a podcast, his budget barely even allows for a computer to keep records on, much less the high tech equipment and talent to set up a nice website. Yet, each week, he dutifully climbs up to that podium and faithfully preaches the word of God to a body of believers. He is just as important as the big names mentioned above, yet he’ll never see the notoriety they do.
Now see yourself through his eyes. You love your pastor dearly and you listen and grow form his devotion to the Word each week. Yet, during the rest of the week, you are downloading sermons from Sproul, MacArthur or Platt. You pour over their books and study notes. When you have a theological question, you pull out their study bibles. You go to their conferences and you come back far more excited than you ever do at the home bible study he heads up. All of this creates an enormous amount of pressure for your pastor. He cannot hope to ever hold the position these godly men do, yet he somehow has to keep the attention of his congregation so he can keep preaching the Word to them. Does he then sacrifice his time to minister to his flock so he can begin writing that book? Should he mimic their teaching styles, or preach the things they preach about? What about those conferences? He could never host one himself, so should he join with other churches to put one on? If so, how selective should he be about who to partner with? You see the dilemma he is faced with? In the eyes of the local pastor, his congregation is enamored with the “big time” preachers. There is a lot of pressure to measure up.
Now please understand, I am not saying that Christians should only ever listen to just the teachings of their local pastor. We can benefit greatly from the godly teachings of pastors, great and small. It is certainly worth our time to read and learn from many great learned scholars, for it will help in our growth and understanding of scripture. We have the liberty to even attend the conferences where these men preach, and can be greatly edified by it. But there must be a proper balance. God put us in a certain place, at a certain local church, for a reason. Scripture teaches us that all Christians are bestowed gifts by the Holy Spirit for the edification of the body of Christ. And where you are planted is where you are to employ those gifts! If you spend most of your time following the “big guys” then your local body is being starved of the gifts you were given for their benefit. When you take time and money to attend that big conference while your local church struggles with its annual budget, you may well be misappropriating the finances God gave you for that body’s benefit. When you share the podcasts and videos of the other pastors, folks may flock to their godly teaching and benefit from it. However, if you took your internet savvy, could you not create a site for your church? You could then share those weekly sermons so that other may benefit from the teaching you have grown under.
The point of this article is not to decry our love for great and godly preachers, but to draw our attention back to our local churches. Let us spend maybe less time, effort and money building up the big names, for God will maintain their ministries with or without us. But let us take just a bit more time, a bit more care and certainly more effort to build up our local congregations. As we build up and edify the local body, we can send out more laborers for the harvest into our local communities. And as more laborers go out, the gospel reaches more people and the local church grows. The more the church grows, the more great and godly preachers can go out into the world and accomplish the work that we are expecting the big name preachers to do. Let us be about the business of supporting our local churches brethren and let the “celebrity” preachers be an added benefit to where we are already being blessed
(CBS/AP) Houston televangelist Joel Osteen is a preacher, lecturer and author. Soon, he’ll add reality TV star to his accomplishments.
The leader of a Texas megachurch, whose Sunday services are broadcast to audiences around the world, has signed an agreement to work with producer Mark Burnett to develop a reality show about his mission trips with members of his Lakewood Church.
Osteen, 48, announced the agreement Tuesday. He said the program would also feature Victoria, his wife of more than two decades.
Osteen also travels a cross the country presenting programs in large arenas. He is the author of several best-selling books, the latest of which is “Every Day a Friday.”
The British-born Burnett is executive producer of the CBS hit show “Survivor” and creator of such reality series as “Celebrity Apprentice,” “The Voice” and “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?”
Lakewood Church’s website says its broadcasts reach more than 200 million households. Its headquarters is the former Compaq Center, which the NBA’s Houston Rockets once called home. It took more than 15 months and $75 million to convert the arena into a church.
Joel Osteen introduces his audience to someone he describes as a “world changer,” a “history maker,” and “one of the great voices of our generation.”
And the crowd goes wild!
The United Kingdom’s The Guardian has published a scathing indictment of the American mainstream church that Ingrid Schlueter described as:
Imagine finding the most incisive, succinct description of empty evangelicalism you’ve ever seen, and finding it in the UK’s left-wing Guardian newspaper.
The entire article, Crystal Cathedral Had It’s Day, can be read here. It’s certainly an article worth the read, but if you’re still reluctant I’ve provided the following quote to whet your whistle.
But there is nothing new under the sun. Saddleback and the Crystal Cathedral, Willow Creek and all the other evangelical megachurches that have had their time in the sun sell the same product: mind-power through talk-magic, which in secular packaging is just what all the innumerable therapies and self-help programmes on the market promise. In the US, where school psychologists are almost as common as school nurses, we are obsessed with talk therapies because they are in fact ecumenical and secularised versions of evangelical Christianity, our old time religion.
So what do you do when you’re preaching to a church full of people and you want to persuade them to believe that a sin (that’s clearly defined in Scripture) isn’t really a sin?
Well, if you’re Jay Bakker, you first go for the shock of it all then follow it up with making the congregation feel stupid. If that doesn’t work, make them feel guilty. And if that still doesn’t work turn on the tears to manipulate their emotions.
And what do you do if none of this works? If you’re the Sundance Channel you make a short video of the incident, insert some sentimental music at just right spot, and make it available to upload to YouTube.
In the First Century AD, Cerinthus was a well-known heretic, being one of the early leaders of the Gnostic movement. John opposed him as fiercely as a man possible could (thus giving us a better example of how to deal with heretics than the many modern-day milquetoast “pastors” who think we need to buddy-up with heretics and call them “brothers in Christ”). In fact, the story goes that when John and some of his disciples (possibly Polycarp) were about to enter a bathhouse, and John heard that Cerinthus was inside, John fled the building with his disciples, shouting
“Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is inside!”
If only that which calls itself “the church” in America today would follow John’s example, we might not need a site like this. If the quote-unquote “church” would rise up and flee, flee, flee! Flee swiftly from those institutions that teach things that are contrary to the Word of God!!
- “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for Roman Catholic idolatry, the enemy of the truth, is inside!”
- “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for Emergent “Christianity”, the enemy of the truth, is inside!”
- “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for Purpose-Driven™/Seeker-Driven™ egocentrism, the enemy of the truth, is inside!”
- “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for Prosperity heretics, those enemies of the truth, are inside!”
- “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for Robert Schuller, the enemy of the truth, is inside!”
- “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for self-esteem, the enemy of the truth, is inside!”
- “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for Compromise of all sorts, the enemy of the truth, is inside!”
That which calls itself “church”–if only they would adopt the attitude of John the Apostle, and “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for [fill in the blank], the enemy of the truth, is inside!” Remember these words which our Lord Jesus spoke to this one who fled from Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth. Listen to what He said to these gatherings that claimed to be of Christ–but which allowed Satan to enter through the front door, all the while claiming they did it “for Christ”:
Revelation 2:12-16—“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write…I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”
Revelation 2:18-23—“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write…I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts.”
These were churches that were “doing good things.” They went around preaching “Love!! Love!! Love!!” They had all kinds of faith. But what did they do? They brought the enemy inside. They brought in Balaam, and they brought in Jezebel–and by doing so, they brought in all of their destructive heresies.
- Did Jesus say, “Oh, I’m so proud of you!! You’re using Satan’s methods to bring people in the doors! How wonderful!!”
- Did Jesus say, “It just thrills my heart to see you joining the worship of the true God with those who teach false Christs and bow down to worship statues!!”
- Did Jesus say, “I love how you guys are engaging the culture around you!!”
- Did Jesus say, “That’s the way to do church!! After all, who wants to sit there for a half an hour and just hear about…Me? Bring in more games!!”
Look at the warnings Jesus gives the church at Pergamos, and the church at Thyatira. Notice how they compromised with the world, and notice the rebuke from Christ. Then ask yourself: Would your church receive a “Well Done.” Or would He rebuke you for flinging wide the front door and inviting Balaam and Jezebel inside?
“… We ask that everything we do would bring honor to you … and we just lift up especially Mayor Annise Parker. … Lord, we thank you just for raising her up and just for your goodness, your mercy in her life, and just for supernatural wisdom, Father. We honor her today and our other officials, and Lord, we count it a joy and honor to be here in your presence with all of our friends and we just thank you for this day. In Jesus name, amen.”
This is as mind boggling as the wolf who “blessed” an abortion mill, calling it “sacred ground.”
Ingrid Schlueter hits the nail on the head regarding Joel Osteen with this excerpt from her commentary:
We bring honor to God by asking Him to bless a woman who is living in conduct that He calls an “abomination”? Does Joel Osteen even possess a Bible?
My message is not about doctrine. I don’t have to get 50 references from Scripture in a sermon for it to be a good sermon. Churches that are helping people live out a Christian life are growing and flourishing. . . . I want to be careful not to criticize anybody or be negative . . . but we need to change with the times.
Answer . . .
“For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was—a device for wasting time, a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience, a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability. For this she got herself abused roundly by the sons of this world. But of late she has become tired of the abuse and has given over the struggle. She appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god Entertainment she may as well join forces with him and make what use she can of his powers. So today we have the astonishing spectacle of millions of dollars being poured into the unholy job of providing earthly entertainment for the so-called sons of heaven. Religious entertainment is in many places rapidly crowding out the serious things of God. Many churches these days have become little more than poor theaters where fifth-rate “producers” peddle their shoddy wares with the full approval of evangelical leaders who can even quote a holy text in defense of their delinquency.
And hardly a man dares raise his voice against it.”
1897 – 1963
We are called to make judgments, to test the spirits and discern truth from error (2 Thess. 3:6; 1 John 4:1). Both Jesus and Paul warned us “Do not be deceived.” How can we heed their warnings if we do not make judgments? Benny Hinn has made numerous false prophecies that are well documented . . . . Joel Osteen has denied the exclusivity of the Gospel on the Larry King Live Show and consistently gives people what they want (psychology) instead of what they need (sound biblical doctrine).
– Mike Gendron
The recent video released of Mark Driscoll preaching at Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral contained this exchange between the two:
SCHULLER: God loves you; so do I.
(Audience applause while Driscoll extends hand for handshake.)
DRISCOLL: I appreciate that, thank you brother.
So who is Robert Schuller, the man Mark Driscoll not only openly endorses but considers to be a brother in the Lord? He is none other than a long time rank heretic tied to the New Age movement as clearly noted in Warren Smith’s book Deceived on Purpose. In the book, former New Ager himself Smith, not only exposes Schuller as the disciple of Norman Vincent Peale, but Smith also details Schuller’s blatant New Age theology. Smith also reveals the little known fact that Rick Warren is a disciple of Robert Schuller; proof the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.
For those not familiar with Robert Schuller, let’s take a moment to examine some of the teachings of the man that Mark Driscoll calls “brother.”
The following exchange took place during an interview on The White Horse Inn hosted by Michael Horton (you can read more from the interview here).
RS: I believe in heaven. I believe in hell. But I don’t know what happens there. I don’t take it literally that it’s a fire that never stops burning.
MH: As Jesus said it was?
RS: Jesus was not literal. See, now this is where you have differences of interpretation. I went to a different theological school than you did. And there are different denominations, like about four hundred in the United States of America, and we don’t belong to the same denomination. In my denomination, Jesus stood outside Gehenna, the city dump, and said that’s outside the walls, that’s hell. And in the dump there were always worms, and there were fires….
And here’s another exchange between Horton and Schuller:
MH: Dr. Schuller, how could the cross as you write, “sanctify the ego trip,” and make us proud, in the light of passages that say, “I hate pride and arrogance (Prov. 8:13), “Pride goes before destruction” (Prov. 16:18),”The Lord detests all the proud” (Prov. 16:5), “Do not be proud”(Rom. 12:16), “Love does not boast it is not proud” (1Cor 13:4). In fact Paul warns Timothy that in the last days men “will be lovers of themselves” (2Tim 3:2). Why should we as Christian ministers, myself included, why should we do anything to encourage people to become “lovers of themselves” if Paul in fact warned others that that would be the state of godlessness in the last days?
RS: I hope you don’t preach this, I hope you don’t preach this!
MH: What, the texts?
RS: No, what you just spoke into the microphone right now. I hope you don’t because you could do a lot of damage to a lot of beautiful people. But maybe if you preach it, maybe you will demonstrate your knowledge of human relationships and maybe you’ll demonstrate a sensitivity of caring about these pathetic, pathetic people that are so lost in pain and suffering because of their sinful condition, and I think you’d want to save them. I think you’d want to bring them to Jesus. And so if you preach that text, oh man, I sure hope you give it the kind of interpretation that I do or, I’ll tell you, you’ll drive them farther away and they’ll be madder than hell at you and they’ll turn the Bible off, and they’ll switch you off, and they’ll turn on the rock music and Madonna. Just because it’s in the Bible doesn’t mean you should preach it.
But wait, there’s more. The following quotes from Driscoll’s brother, Robert Schuller, are found in his book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation as cited in this article from RapidNet and this article from CrossRoad:
Christ is the Ideal One, for he was Self-Esteem Incarnate.
Every human being must be treated with respect; self-esteem is his sacred right.
Classical theology has erred in its insistence that theology be God-centered, not man-centered.
What we need is a theology of salvation that begins and ends with a recognition of every person’s hunger for glory.
The Cross sanctifies the ego trip. For the Cross protected our Lord’s perfect self-esteem from turning into sinful pride.
For once a person believes he is an “unworthy sinner,” it is doubtful if he can really honestly accept the saving grace God offers in Jesus Christ.
Classical theology defines sin as “rebellion against God.” The answer is not incorrect as much as it is shallow and insulting to the human being.
To be born again means that we must be changed from a negative to a positive self-image — from inferiority to self-esteem, from fear to love, from doubt to trust.
Jesus never called a person a sinner…. Rather he reserved his righteous rebuke for those who used their religious authority to generate guilt and caused people to lose their ability to taste and enjoy their right to dignity.
I found myself immediately attracted to Pope John Paul II when, upon his election to the Papacy, his published speeches invariably called attention to the need for recognizing the dignity of the human being as a child of God.
The core of original sin, then is LOT — Lack of Trust. Or, it could be considered an innate inability to adequately value ourselves. Label it a “negative self-image,” but do not say that the central core of the human soul is wickedness…. Positive Christianity does not hold to human depravity, but to human inability.
One classical role of the pulpit in Protestantism has been to “preach sermons” which imply indoctrination more than education. Within this from of communication, there is an inherent, intrinsic inclination to intimidate, manipulate, and, hence, offend the person’s most prized quality of humanness — his dignity.
“My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” was Christ’s encounter with hell. In that ‘hellish’ death our Lord experienced the ultimate horror-humiliation, shame, and loss of pride as a human being. A person is in hell when he has lost his self-esteem. Can you imagine any condition more tragic than to live life and eternity in shame?
When the news of Driscoll’s scheduled appearance at the Crystal Cathedral broke, and the question of why he would join ranks with a heretic was raised, the Driscollites quickly came out in force to defend their golden calf.
Defenders of Driscoll never once denied Schuller’s abhorrent theology, and some even admitted that Schuller was a heretic (something we could finally agree on). So what was their hastily devised defense for their man Driscoll? They claimed that Driscoll had to go to the Crystal Cathedral to preach the true gospel to those who have been deceived under Schuller’s ministry.
This would have been a noble endeavor had it been true. The only problem was that–although this was the Driscoll defenders’ reason for Driscoll going–they didn’t foresee that this was apparently not Driscoll’s reason for going (evidenced by him identifying Schuller as his brother).
So instead of going to the Crystal Cathedral to show the Schullerites that they’ve swallowed a false gospel–and in turn preach the true gospel–all Mark Driscoll did was validate and legitimize Schuller and his teachings, and preach about a Jesus Christ that the audience believes is the same Jesus Christ that Schuller’s been talking about for years because, after all, Driscoll identified Schuller as his brother in Christ.
So here’s the big problem in a nutshell for Driscoll defenders:
If they concede that Schuller teaches heresy, then they must explain how Driscoll can call the man brother (for what does light have to do with darkness let alone call it brother?). But if they say that Schuller’s teachings are sound and are consistent with 2,000 years of historic Christianity, then they’ve just opened a whole new Pandora’s Box of problems for Mark Driscoll and those who sit under his teaching.
The size of the problem cannot be understated when one considers that it is Driscoll’s “orthodoxy” that his defenders consistently point to as their greatest defense to excuse his foul mouth, his blasphemies, and his irreverent depiction of the Savior.
Now we know the die-hard Driscoll fans will just come up with one more weak excuse to place atop their crumbling deck of cards, and it will be interesting to see the spin doctors in full swing with this conundrum. This fork-in-the-road moment has proven to be a monumental problem for the never-say-die Drisollites; a problem that–since the airing of the video–they have yet to address.
But what about you, the Driscoll fan who genuinely seeks after truth first and foremost? Where do you stand today? Either choice leaves you at a crossroads with a big decision to make. Do you finally acknowledge that Mark Driscoll is not all that he’s been purported to be, or do you continue to stick your head in the proverbial sand and ignore all that is before you? Your decision will reveal your loyalty either to the truth of the gospel or to the adoration of a man.
When Mark Driscoll calls Rick Warren a “brother in Christ,” calls Joel Osteen his “Christian brother,” and gleefully shakes the hand of Robert Schuller while calling him “brother” too, this all begs the question, “What version of ‘Christianity’ does Mark Driscoll identify with?”
When Driscoll’s faith includes (and is comfortable with) the likes of Warren, Osteen, and Schuller, one has to wonder who or what is actually excluded in Driscoll’s “Christianity” (besides those critical of him of course). With “brothers” like Warren, Osteen, and Schuller, who needs enemies of the cross?
The office of pastor is not one that is to be attained to lightly. If a man desire the office of bishop, he desireth a good work (1st Timothy 3:1). But what is required of such a one? In order to be called a bishop, one must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach...not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1st Timothy 3:2-7). And what is required of him once he takes to the office? Richard Baxter, from The Reformed Pastor:
The nature of our office requireth us to ‘take heed to the flock.’ What else are we overseers, for “Bishop” is a title which intimates more of’ ‘labor than of honor,’ says Polydore Virgil.’ To be a bishop, or pastor, is not to be set up as an idol for the people to bow to, or as idle ‘slow bellies,’ to live to our fleshly delight and ease; but it is to be the guide of sinners to heaven. It is a sad case that men should be of a calling of which they know not the nature, and undertake they know not what.
If you miscarry, they and you may perish. You have a subtle enemy, and therefore you must be wise. You have a vigilant enemy, and therefore you must be vigilant. You have a malicious and violent and unwearied enemy, and therefore you must be resolute, courageous and indefatigable.
Thanks to Amy (a commenter on this thread) for alerting me to the following video. Because of it, I have decided to wield my newly-granted powers as editor to add a new category called “If I Was Dying…” As in, “If I was dying, and I walked into your church seeking the truth about where I was headed, would I find it? Or would I leave unchanged, walking toward the gates of Hell with a joke in my mind and a song in my heart?”
I’ll let the man in the video speak for himself…