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Christianity Lite

Several people have told me that I sound angry or bitter in my last post. My response to that is: I'M NOT ANGRY OR BITTER ... haha. Now that's settled, let's risk sounding critical and judgmental with the following post.

One of the fears I have for the modern church is that in order to penetrate into the mainstream, the chuch is diluting its message and portraying an unbalanced view of the Gospel. In our strive to change the common stereotype that Christians are intolerant and conservative, churches becoming more and more vague about its beliefs and tenants. Please don't misunderstand, I am all for being more culturally relevant and reaching out to the masses, but not at the cost of compromising our values. Yes, Jesus reached out to the outcasts and "sinners," and we should do the same by displaying love rather than condemnation. But even when Jesus saved the adulterous woman from being stoned in John 8, He said to her after the crowd left, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more." (ESV) Notice that Jesus did not condemn the woman, but neither did He tolerate her to continue in her sin.

This watering down of the Christian message is actually pretty prevalent today. Take for example
Joel Osteen, the author of the famous book "Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential." This is article about him in the NY Times, and here's an interview he did with Larry King last year. The gripe I have with Osteen can basically be summed up with this quote from the article,

"Mr. Osteen counsels patience, compassion, kindness, generosity and an overall positive attitude familiar to any reader of self-help books. But he skirts the darker themes of sin, suffering and self-denial, leading some critics to deride the Osteen message as "Christianity lite" ... He's not in the soul business, he's in the self business."

And some things came out in the interview were a bit questionable too. Where Larry King asked Osteen who would go to Heaven:

KING: What if you're Jewish or Muslim, you don't accept Christ at all?

OSTEEN: You know, I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know ...

KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They're wrong, aren't they?

OSTEEN: Well, I don't know if I believe they're wrong. I believe here's what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God with judge a person's heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don't know. I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.

How can you not give a straight answer to that question? Is this really the type of question to cop out on? If Osteen won't, I'm going to say it. If you reject Christ as Lord and do not have a personal relationship with Him, it doesn't matter how good a person you are, you are not going to heaven. Yes, there are tactful ways of answering the question, it's obviously not edifying or useful to hold signs up in public that say "YOU ARE GOING TO HELL!" Exercise your discretion, but don't refuse to answer questions you know the answer to just so you don't step on people's toes.

Oh I can go on and on, but I'm afraid people will think I'm ANGRY. Heck! Maybe I am. All I ask is a balanced Gospel message, is that too much to ask?

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  • Blogger Matt Mikalatos says so:
    1:21 PM  

    The problem, of course, is that you are a PROPHET, Ken. You can't stand sin in the camp, you can't keep the word shut up inside of yourself and you hold yourself and others to a very high standard... God's standard. That's why I think you will never be really happy in your current profession. You won't really be happy until you are wandering the desert wearing camel's hair clothing. Not that it's about happiness, of course, despite what Esteemed Professional Christian Writers might say.

    Anyway, allow me to add an AMEN.

    And, on a related note: Maybe if we stopped describing the gospel as a purely propositional truth question with benefits only in the great hereafter then we wouldn't have to make so many excuses for it. Maybe people would like the good news that the gospel transforms your life TODAY and brings freedom from the shackels of sin, brings justice to the unjust or mercy.

    Okay. I am getting out of control. I'm going to go eat some locusts and honey now. top

  • Blogger Matt Mikalatos says so:
    1:23 PM  

    I wonder if I meant "shackles" or "shekels" in that last post. Hmmm. top

  • Anonymous everting says so:
    7:41 PM  

    AMEN. the Gospel is not some self-help supplement. if people want that, they can go check out barnes & noble. top