Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Gospel of Me...Not

While sitting in the waiting room of the allergist office, I sometimes happen upon interesting magazines with fun faces. Being a caricaturist, I enjoy perusing People magazine or Entertainment Weakly (that was on purpose) and see how the celebrity faces are fairing. Once in a while I run into an interesting quote from the Hollywood brainiac and God drops some thoughts in my otherwise vacuous head. Oh but what do my eyes seize upon, but this wonderful waste of oxygen brought to you by the lovely Cameron Diaz:

It's really awesome growing up in a very narcissistic society laughs because we've finally figured out that it's all about us.

All the time they're like, "It's not about you." But really, it is. I encourage you to figure it out within yourself.

Then I put it next to this theological thought for the day by the Hollywood like Joel Osteen:

God has planted seeds of greatness in you. The seeds of joy, happiness, success and fulfillment are deeply planted in your soul. Cultivate and let these seeds grow so that they will bear good fruit in your life.

The beloved Rick Warren, of Purpose Driven popularity writes in the 40 days of Purpose..."Its Not About You"...wow that sounds right..however, in the Ladies Home Journal, March 2005 article, Warren shares how to truly love yourself. Here are the 5 truths Pastor Warren shares:

Accept YOURSELF...
Be true to YOURSELF...
Believe in YOURSELF...

How interesting that after proclaiming that "its not about you" His advice to better self-esteem has very little to do with anything other that ME.

Its facinating to me that the Mega church, phenomena, if it can be called that, finds its roots more in the Diaz/Osteen/Warren philosophy of Spirtual narcissism than in Scriptures call to look at ourselves with sober judgment.

Gospel is no longer Gospel. Why? Because the Gospel is supposed to be all about God and His work through Jesus Christ. The Mega church gospel is "All about us". The Bible is no longer God's word that reveals His purposes and His law and grace to us, His very breath that gives life to our dead souls, no, it is a spiritual self-help book. In it we are to find what makes US happy and what will make US fulfilled, not the Glory of God displayed. To be sure, the Gospel has benefits to us. The Gospel is GOOD news. But if we are already good, if life is all about us, then what is the point of a Gospel? What is the point of a dying, bleeding Nazerene on a rough tree, when its all about me and my health, wealth and prosperity. Jesus is turned into a means to my end.

I expect that tripe in Hollywood. Those souls are in darkness and out of darkness, darkness comes. But from churches that claim the title, the heritage, the Stigma of being called Christian, to vomit this acrid insanity is blasphemy. Uh oh...did I use strong words? Ah well, in this age strong words may be needed.

The modern Evangelical idea is bring them in by the numbers based on their felt needs. Do some surveying, see what the seekers want and give it to them. Use new and improved "techniques" to attract them. Make the gospel sweeter as it were. Adorn the gospel with phylacteries of humor, skits, laser light shows, big name bands, and of course, a good barker...er preacher, that can turn a phrase easily and segue into points with the funniest clips from popular TV sitcoms.

Note Paul's Purpose Driven Preaching technique:

I Corinthians 2:1-5
" When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power."

Paul seemed to not have read the Robert Schuller idea of reaching out to seekers, or read the Purpose Driven Church. He proclaimed the complete Gospel, Christ crucified, risen from the dead and the judgement without apology,

Romans 1:16
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

Jesus was not afraid to say the truth about the state of man, he was not afraid to speak of the inablilites of man:

After he said to those who met him on opposite side of the Lake in Capernum, that He was the bread of heaven and they had to believe and come to Him alone, they grumbled...what was His response? I submit that if the above mention Mega church philosophy is true, Jesus' asnwer would have been "I accept you as you are, I'm here for you, believe in yourself and me. I have a wonderful plan for your life. Check out this clip from "Everybody Loves Rueben" lets sing Kumbyah." Was that His response? Nope.

John 6:60-65
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him."

Yipe...would this kind of response come from our modern day pulpits...er Music stands?

What was their response to that?
verse 66
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

Think on that for a minute. I bet George Barna would have consulted a different strategy. What does God incarnate know?

For God's people, those he loved and gave life to, the response will echo this:

v. 67-69
"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

It seems that for Jesus, it was all about God, for us it should be all about Jesus.


Vaughan said...


Anonymous said...

How easy it is to hold onto orthodox sounding slogans outwardly, like "It's not about you," and gut it out and stuff the slogan with man-centered fluff. The Purpose Driven Church, et al, order themselves according to the lowest common denominator: man and his felt needs. Dr. Kim Riddlebarger has an interesting article (http://spindleworks.com/library/riddlebarger/denom.htm) which provides good perspective on ordering our churches according to the higheset common denominator: God and his glory. Riddlebarger's model reflects the popular application for preachers of Christ's famous reference to his own crucifixion, "if I be lifted up, I will draw all men to me." When Warren and Osteen "lift up" the people, they only draw them inward to themselves.

Angelz said...

I appreciate that excellent article. Kim is a very astute exegete.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Riddlebarger, on his blog www.kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com, Kim annoucnes and links to his very first television interview! Go watch it, even if you're dispensational!

Tim_Azevedo said...

"It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice." -Phillipians 1

It's so easy to tear others down, to caricature every human flaw, isn't it? Yet the gospel goes forth even through these evangelicals-- human, broken jars of clay. So long as the crucification and resurrection of Christ are preached, I will rely on the Lord to work on the human heart. As you have pointed out, if Paul didn't use high rhetoric, then the power of the gospel thankfully is not in our method, but in the Spirit of God and the message itself. Laser light shows, etc. may not add to the gospel but they cannot take away from it either. In the end, all you have written criticizes the method, and not the message of the evangelicals. By taking a few quotes out of context, you have not demonstrated serious heresy, only a straw-man argument. I think, perhaps, instead of writing polemics, Christians would be better served by preaching the gospel.