I have just begun reading "Christless Christianity, the Alternative Gospel of the American Church," by Michael Horton. This book speaks volumes to my concern (albeit indirectly) about the cross-less message of Joel Osteen.
When I began this “dyingtolive” blog on December 27, 2008, my first post was called “Let’s talk about Joel Osteen.” I wanted to use this venue to illuminate and expose the false teaching of Joel Osteen to those who think him to be harmless. In my view, anyone who has the largest church and TV audience in the world, and whose teaching minimizes the saving work of God through Jesus Christ, and is called “the most influential Christian in America," cannot be considered harmless.
However, today I am announcing I will no longer focus my conversations on exposing the half-truths of Joel Osteen. Having searched the internet these past few months, I am satisfied there are enough people already doing that. From this point on, I will use this blog to share the multi-faceted “dying-to-live-abundant-life” truths that I love so much.
However, having said that, please allow me to share with you some writings from Michael Horton’s book that truly capture the essence of the problem confronting the American church today, and which is easily summed up in the teachings of Joel Osteen.
In this Alternative Gospel, Michael Horton points out: “everything is measured by our happiness rather than by God’s holiness, [and] the sense of our being sinners becomes secondary, if not offensive.” The Alternative Gospel tells its followers they are truly “good people who have lost [their] way, but with the proper instructions and motivation can become a better person,” in effect making the need for Jesus’ work of redemption in our lives irrelevant. In fact, Horton says, by “assimilating the gospel to [our] felt needs, we end up saying very little that the world could not hear from Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, or Oprah,” … “focusing the conversation on us—our desires, needs, feelings, experience, activity, and aspirations—it energizes us.
"Aside from the packaging," Horton says, "there is nothing that cannot be found in most churches today that could not be satisfied by any number of secular programs and self-help groups."
And the quote from Horton's book which I find most compelling as we examine the message of Joel Osteen is this one:
“God is not denied but trivialized—God exists for the pleasure of humankind. He resides in the heavenly realm solely for our utility and benefit...as a personal shopper for the props of our life movie: happiness as entertainment, [and] salvation as therapeutic well-being."