Last week while talking to a group of my Christian friends, I mentioned that Joel Osteen was not preaching the gospel, and they nearly went ballistic on me. My assertion was that Osteen, TBN, Inspiration Network, 700 Club, have all turned away from a gospel of salvation, and people don't even notice. The conventional wisdom about Osteen seems to be that he is a great speaker, and he explains Christianity in a way that people can relate to it.
Yesterday Jared Wilson's blog reminded me that "a healthy dose of being criticized, even hated, is honorable if they're criticizing or hating you because of your Jesus-fixation and gospel stubbornness." Jesus, in Luke 6:22-26, tells me to rejoice that "I'm hated" for my Gospel stubbornness, and Paul admonishes us to be mature in faith and learn righteousness and the difference between good and evil (Hebrews 5:11-14). If we are relating to Joel Osteen, aren't we still drinking milk, and in danger of falling away?
Paul's list of what is "milk" is quite interesting! In Hebrews 6:1-2 he clearly calls instructions on baptism, repentance, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment things an immature Christian is still learning, and the elementary things of our faith. Where is Joel Osteen, and the rest of the postmodern church in this mix? Even MORE elementary! Before even saved, maybe? How can a mature Christian think J.O.'s message of "what to do so God will bless you" anything but a works based salvation. It's not about us, it's about how loving a God would care so much to want us back, and how He has already blessed us with everything we need in Christ Jesus.