FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY! Imagine your favorite product is sitting before you on a shelf. How much would you be willing to pay for it? At what point does it become unobtainable? I was walking through Target the other day and noticed there appeared to be red signs everywhere declaring sale after sale. Some items were drastically reduced whereas other items were marked down by a mere 9 cents. Seeing the latter, it was cause for a chuckle as I imagined consumers seeing a red sign and not even bothering to see how the store was "targeting" them as ignorant consumers. However, chuckling was replaced by awe as I walked through the toy aisle. There were red signs EVERYWHERE! For these products, they had removed the original yellow sticker and didn't mention the original price (or the savings) on the red one. All it mentioned was the sale price and the relatively short date range in which you could expect to receive such a deal. That was when I noticed a lone yellow sticker that had been overlooked by an employee. Imagine my shock when I saw it had the exact same price as annotated on the red tag! There was literally no sale on these items. The store had just slapped a boatload of sale tags on the toys while never even lowering the price. Perhaps even more astounding was the fact that the shelves were empty! I wondered if I was the only one left in the world who compared prices and did research before just blindly throwing my money away.
It was at this point that my browsing led me to the book section. Though there were no sales, I saw the books you see in the picture to the right. It was a normal enough sight. Books marked a penny shy of the next whole dollar. Marketing tactics and product placement showed nothing out of the ordinary. However, lurking beneath the surface was something that would probably be missed by most. While there is no doubt the masses are willing to pay $12.99 for the latest Joel Osteen book (the best seller list proves this fact), I believe this to be only a secondary problem. The question is not how much you are willing to pay for a paperback book. The question isn't even how much you are willing to pay for bad theology. No, the question is, "How much does bad theology really cost?" I dare say, if you were to find any of these books at a yard sale for 25 cents, you have overpaid. In fact, if you were to receive them as a free gift from a friend, you have still overpaid. The cost of bad theology isn't a broken wallet but, rather, a broken walk with Christ. Are you prepared to pay such a price?
Maybe you're a fan of Joel Osteen. I once knew a Christian who loved God with all his heart. He took every opportunity to evangelize to the lost. I was sharing my opinion of Osteen with him and he instantly became offended. I never would've guessed he was a fan of the smiling pastor. He went on to say that, though Osteen wasn't the most theologically accurate, he had a desire to help people overcome their burdens and feel encouraged. Therein lies the problem. If one isn't theologically accurate, it doesn't mean they have a slight flaw. It means they are theologically inaccurate. The danger is great because everything else will flow forth from this. For instance, if one has an inadequate view of sin, it will naturally lead to an inadequate view of man's status before God. If he has an inadequate view of man's status before God, he will naturally have an inadequate view of Christ's purpose and accomplishment. Once we cross into this realm, is it any wonder why so many believe it only takes seven steps to become a better you? Osteen teaches that one simply has to keep pressing forward, be positive toward yourself, develop better relationships, form better habits, embrace the place where you are, develop your inner life, and stay passionate about life. How inwardly self-centered can one be? This is excellent advice so far as worldly wisdom in concerned but God paints a very different picture. He tells us the wisdom of this world is foolishness (1 Corinthians 3:19). He has made it very clear that the wisdom of this world only leads to not knowing God (1 Corinthians 1:21). So why do I say this seemingly friendly advice is foolishness? Upon what ground do I stand? To this, I respond that I stand on the solid rock of Christ and stand firm within the pages of Scripture. Scripture alone will make a man adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17). If you truly want to become a better you, I implore you to stop relying on you. The more you choose to follow these pawns of Satan, the more you wind up being nothing more than a puppet on a string. Don't be deceived. Don't exchange the truth for a lie (Romans 1:25). As an individual, there is nothing you could ever do to become better. Sure, you might achieve worldly success. You might even fancy yourself to be a success story in the world of self-esteem. Osteen has said, "As long as you're doing your best and desire to do what’s right according to God’s Word, you can be assured God is pleased with you." Sadly, this is a bold faced lie. It sounds sweet but smells like sulfur. Doing your best will never please God. Following Christ will please God. Even then, it isn't based on what you are doing but on what Christ has accomplished and what the Spirit prompts within you. No, if you rely on worldly wisdom to get yourself right, you'll be waiting a long time.
Perhaps even worse is the following quote taken out his new book. "Too many people say negative things about themselves, about their families, and about their futures. They say things such as, 'I'll never be successful. This sickness will get the best of me. Business is so slow I don't think I will make it. Flu season is coming. I'll probably catch it.' They don't realize they are prophesying their futures. The Scripture says, 'We will eat the fruit of our words.' That means we will get exactly what we've been saying." The premise of his latest work of fiction is that the Christian can simply declare what they want and God will show favor on them through the form of blessing. Reader, this is simply untrue. It is a mockery of the Word of God. In fact, it is a mockery of God Himself. It is understandable how one could be so intrigued by such promises of health, wealth, and prosperity. After all, in this economy, what could it hurt to try on a little Jesus and get some cash? How deplorable!
All of this is bad theology and, sadly, it's just a very small amount of the filth that has perpetuated itself within the Church. It uses Christian verbiage. It wears a friendly smile. It comes dressed in a fancy suit. It tells you that you can have more. It throws around Bible verses taken out of context. Even worse, it slanders the truth and brings destruction (2 Peter 2:1-2). The Greek word translated as destruction in this passage literally means final damnation with eternal misery in hell. Instead of following Osteen, I recommend you be an imitator of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1) and remain is the Word (John 15:7).
Following any other "wisdom" costs way too much. How much are you prepared to pay?
~ Travis W. Rogers