Rejoice at Their Preaching

I have a question about your recent sermon (Jan 13, 2008). Paul wrote that he rejoices even when Christ is preached out of selfish ambition. You mentioned, however that Paul is the first to point out heresy. In modern day TV evangelism, the majority are preaching out of selfish ambition (greed, fame, self gratification, recognition, etc.), some actually proclaim the gospel, and a few hold to orthodox Christian doctrine. Are we to rejoice that Christ is being preached, or are we to point out the heresy of modern day false doctrine? In other words, do I need to rejoice that Joel Osteen is on television?

That is a great question; I agree that much of TV evangelism has less than pure motives at many times, and many of them do not proclaim Christ and some are unorthodox in their doctrine. Obviously, one would have to take each person one at a time to discuss a specific response. However, since you mentioned Joel Osteen, I will give you my impressions about him and how I think this text would apply.

First, I have a big problem with the health and wealth Gospel that Osteen seems to propagate. I think the health and wealth teaching is a gross distortion of Christian doctrine, and I certainly do not support it. However, if someone were to truly preach the Gospel but then in more advanced; teaching teach a form of the health and wealth doctrine, I could rejoice at the proclamation of Christ, and separately critique their other doctrine.

Second, and more importantly, Osteen, like many of the other health and & wealth gospel guys, never seems to actually preach the Gospel. I have listened to a few clips of his preaching, and I have never heard him mention any of the essential elements of the Gospel (sin, God's wrath, atonement, repentance, faith in Christ, etc.) More importantly, I saw an extended interview on 60 minutes (which is available at their site I think) in which the interviewer said that in Osteen's latest book there was not a single mention of any of these topics. Osteen did not deny this, but simply offered an excuse (that is not my gift - others handle deep doctrine - I am called to encourage people). If this is accurate, and I strongly suspect it is, then he is not proclaiming Christ at all. What he is doing could not be preaching the Gospel. He is simply teaching positive thinking and plunders the Bible for verses - taken out of context - to support his preconceived ideas. I can not rejoice at this, since Christ is not proclaimed in any way. (It is interesting to note that one of the couples getting a book signed in the 60 minutes segment are Catholic and Jewish and apparently feel no compulsion to consider Christ out of all of Osteen's teachings - just embrace an amorphous concept of God that fits both Catholicism and Judaism - this can not be proclaiming Christ).

On the other hand, there are televangelists with whom I may have even large doctrinal differences but who clearly proclaim Christ. With them I rejoice in the proclamation of Christ, but am willing to critique them on other areas. Yet, I keep the distinction between them and someone who does not seem to proclaim Christ at all (like Osteen) or who teaches total heresy (Jehovahs Witnesses, Mormons, etc.)