People are asking me: “Gosh, Aaron if you are saying all these terrible things about other Christians what gives you the right? Don’t you want people to know that you are a Christian? Can’t you say anything nice?”
Criticism is certainly a sticky business. It has many negative connotations and it does indeed influence the acquirement of enemies. Not that Simon Cowell of American Idol is the adonis of virtue especially since what he says is often harsh and rude. Yet what Simon shares is the truth, at least in regard to his opinion. Telling the truth is quite a burdensome task, yet for Simon, Randy, and now Ellen, telling people that they really cannot sing may be painful, but it saves people an immense amount of pain and heartache.
Even before he takes the stage, Joel Osteen‘s “ministry” sends out the ubiquitous lie: “Discover the champion in you.”
As a pastor whose facility packs 16,000 people in each meeting, Joel Osteen is a mammoth and has become his own industry. Succeeding his father, John, in 1999 Osteen has written several books including the New York Times bestseller, Your Best Life Now. He has been hailed by former presidential candidate John McCain as “inspiring” and was named on the list of the most interesting people of 2006 by Barbara Walters.
Through the rose-colored lenses of capitalism, Joel Osteen is the zenith of what it means to be a success. In less than a decade he has taken the church he inherited from his father and built it into an empire of sorts. His books top the best-seller lists and his name is synonymous with an inspiring and uplifting message. To share a taste of his teaching, I simply went to YouTube.com and found the most recent of his Sunday “sermonars.” Take a moment to listen what he has to say in this 10 minute clip before reading on (the rest of the message is here and here):
Given recent events in my life and the shift in readership of this blog, I have found the need to lay a different sort of foundation for my thoughts and this forum. It has occurred to me that I have kept many of my thoughts buried for many reasons, not the least of which was fear of being alone in my position and fear of being rejected by those in my faith community.
However, circumstances be as they may, I have come to a place where I must either make the leap or pack up and head home. And I have not been one to pack it in. What follows is largely a private journey that I have been on for more than the last decade. It began as my faith and worldview began to be deconstructed in the course of college classes, oddly enough at a private Christian university. My journey had led me to places where I have had the honor of rubbing shoulders with schizophrenics, prostitutes, and criminals as well as “Christians,” atheists, and the spiritually apathetic. In the course of the last several years I have come to the firm belief that we all have much more that unites us than separates us.
In the course of seeing life for myself, I have come to a very controversial and potentially alienating conclusion: the church is dying. For a time I did not want anything to do with it, but never have recanted my faith. What follows are some of my candid thoughts about the state of the church, its (our) sins and my hope for its redemption.