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Sunday, March 26, 2006

In person, over the internet

After having a heated discussion with a friend regarding some "Christian personalities" I also listened to a podcast from Stand to Reason. During the Februrary 26th podcast (you must register to listen to podcasts, it' free, so it's worth it, but it means I can't link), Greg Koukl was reviewing a conversation he had with several prominent emerging movement leaders. During the meeting, he mentioned that John MacArthur had a conference on the Emerging Movement. Koukl shared that MacArthur probably shot all discussion down by starting the conference with "Emergent--Bad." He said there was also a guest speaker who had some very hostile things to say.

An emerging movement leader shared that he emailed the guest speaker about his hostility (some of which was personally directed at the e.m. leader). The guest speaker emailed back saying that he never would have said some of the things he said had he considered that the person may be in audience.

Ouch! I've certainly made that mistake on this blog before. I have written about situations without considering that the reader may have been involved in the situation as well. Being confronted about that, it has made it easier to keep in mind regarding those I know. However, I have I spoken about "Christian celebrites" in a way I probably wouldn't if I knew they were reading my blog? Unfortunately, I proabably have.

I truly feel bad about that, and hope you will help hold me accountable about this. It's not right to talk about personalities as if they are not people. I can certainly afford to grow in graciousness. However, this does not mean we have to agree with everything. But I should be less personal when approaching disagreements. It may need to look something like this (tell me if you think I'm still off).

Emergent. You are obviously intelligent people and I appreciate the fact that you emphasize mission. However, the movement makes me nervous when orthodoxy seems to be abandoned for the sake of being open-minded. I also feel at times that the emphasis is placed more on the culture than the Word of God. I do not hate Emergent or emerging leaders, but I do wish some of these issues were clearly articulated.
Rick Warren. Obviously, Warren is a largely influential person. I also appreciate the emphasis of considering why we do certain things (probably more clearly articulated in Purpose Driven Church.) However, I think a method of quoting Scripture from different translations at a whim is dangerous. I also do not agree that we can use a verse for our purpose because Jesus did that all the time. I think that there can be a dangerous temptation to assess success the same way in the Body as we would a corporation. I also wish the atonement was more clearly articulated in gospel presentations.
Joel Osteen. I appreciate that you do not approach Christianity as something to be dreaded or as a list of painful laws to be obligated to. However, I think an over emphasis on the here-and-now diminishes what God really considers a blessed life. I think it can make those with low bank accounts feel like they aren't fully pleasing God. I appreciated his apology for not being clear about the gospel on Larry King Live. Your humility in response was refreshing. However, I do not believe subsequent teaching has shown that the previous teaching has been corrected. Again, I wish issues of the atonement and the exclusivity of Christ were much more clearly articulated.

You may be reading this and wondering, "How bad must he feel if he turns right around in the same post and states specific issues?"

It's a weird issue of the way I've been created. I truly hope that people would confront me with concerns they have. I actually would consider it an act of love that they would be willing to dialogue about difficult things (thought I may chaff at first). In a way I can't fully explain, I really believe it's more loving (to the reader and the author) to articulate differences than to keep them to ourselves.

I will try to keep them less personal in the future, and keep it clear that I have a problem with philosophy, doctrine, application, teaching, or emphasis, but not with the individual. Thanks for helping me do that, and for being patient when I don't.


  • At 11:44 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

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  • At 2:50 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    thanks for commenting. i appreciate your friendship.

    i think your illustration brings out a very valid point. i also think it emphasizes what i'm talking about. frankly, osteen should not care about what my opinion is of him, however, the Word should be the gauge. it should be where we are turning.

    which would lead me to a very honest dialogue if i ever had mr. osteen's audience:

    1. context. in the 5 or 6 sermons i have watched of his in totality, the context of a passage is never addressed. Scripture is peppered into the sermon (very lightly) but quite frankly, it rarely matches what appears to be the authorial intent.

    2. content. the role of the preacher is to deliver the mail (the message from God according to His Word). i would share with mr. osteen that the lack of Scripture in its context also seems to lead to just sharing personal advice, and not the Word of God.

    3. emphasis. i think it's fair to evaluate the choice of Scripture. is he preaching through a book? is he preaching a clearly defined series (by looking at what a passage says about a topic), or is he preaching on whatever he wants, using whatever text he wants? if osteen finds himself in proverbs all the time, i would encourage him he needs to emphasize the whole counsel of Scripture in preaching (just as I need to reference more than just romans), instead of every message being based out of proverbs.

    4. audience. i must be honest, i struggle to understand how his messages for the church are different than his messages for tv.

    a) most of his messages i have watched on tv are in the setting of his church. i know he travels and preaches in other places, but it's always been at the arena in houston when i've watched. therefore, my assumption would be it is his messages to the Body that i have heard.

    b) furthermore, why have a different message? isn't the nonbeliever in as much of a desperate need for the Word as the believer? can my own personal thoughts and musings save anyone, or is it the Word of God that a person needs to hear (romans 10)? i understand that you want to bring them closer to Jesus, but isn't that done by revealing Jesus, not a pseudo-Jesus that is between what the Word of God says and what they think Jesus to be?

    you see, a bunch of us could gather in a room and have a variety of opinions about the messages...and that accomplishes nothing. but when we run our ministries and our preaching through the grid of what God's Word says about our perspective, then we have something to talk about.

    frankly, i will listen if a person critiques a message of mine on presentation or that they didn't like the message (sometimes, the fact that they didn't like it means you were effective). i will then determine if i feel i should modify my approach based on their perspective.

    however, if a person comes to me and shows me that i am regularly ignoring an entire issue of doctrine, or that my message presented a passage in a way contrary to the context...i have a christian obligation to modify my approach.

    we are here to sharpen one another. i don't think that happens by just saying, "good sermon." or "i'm sure he has a different agenda than mine, so who am i to judge." i think it comes from looking at the Word and asking if the person is rightly handling it.

    that's what the bereans did...and paul thought that was pretty cool (noble, actually).

  • At 2:56 PM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

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  • At 3:37 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    i hear what you are saying, but i think you may be missing the point of my "criticism."

    if i had opportunity to speak with joel osteen, i would certainly take advantage to do so. however, since we have no relationship, i doubt we could make time to connect, nor do i imagine there would be much need for him to consider my concerns. (that is the point of relationships you are talking about).

    however, my concern is more for the people i do have relationship with (my church Body specifically, any readers who might stumble upon my blog). to those who may read, listen or watch his ministry and think develop bad ideas, i believe it is necessary to expose concerns. i think that is what we see in galatians 2. paul's concern was not only for peter, but for other jews, including barnabas, who had been led away by peter's erroneous teaching.

    it is a labor or love to accurately present the gospel of Christ to others, and a labor of love to contend for the faith so that it is conveyed to others.

    sure, i'd love to confront osteen about our difference if i had his audience...but until that happens, and even if it never does, i will not fear to expose our differences out of motivation for those that are in my audience.

  • At 7:59 PM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

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  • At 9:56 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    a) lots of people are watching.
    b) you do not become a new york times best seller unless people are reading your book.
    c) isn't it more dangerous than survivor, etc. if a show is claiming to teach and reveal the Scriptures yet is abusing it. i don't think most people watch american idol to have christianity or the Bible explained to them, there are plenty of people in our churches (and outside of them) that are watching osteen and trusting that since he says "Jesus" and holds a Bible, it's got to be godly content.

    i would argue the stakes are higher with him than pop television...even if the audience is larger with pop television (but don't discount his large market).

  • At 5:27 PM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

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  • At 2:43 PM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    Speaking of Survivor, they are one of my favorite 80's groups! I loved that one song, "Burning Heart" - the theme for Rocky IV. And who could forget the Eye of the Tiger?


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