I Steam, You Steam, We All Steam at Osteen

Greg GilbertWell, maybe we’re not that mad at Joel Osteen, but Greg Gilbert’s new review of Osteen’s book, Your Best Life Now, reminds us of why we are appalled at his version of “Christianity.” Greg Gilbert describes Osteen’s work this way:

It should be noted clearly and widely that there is nothing Christian about this book. Yes, Osteen talks about God throughout, but it is not the God of the Bible he has in mind. Osteen’s God is little more than the mechanism that gives the power to positive thinking. There is no cross. There is no sin. There is no redemption or salvation or eternity. . .

If Joel Osteen wants to be the Norman Vincent Peale of the twenty-first century, he has every right to give it a shot. But he should stop marketing his message as Christianity, because it is not. You cannot simply make reference to God, quote some Scripture, call what you’re saying “spiritual principles,” and pass it off as Christianity. That’s the kind of thing that will have people “enlarging their vision” and “choosing to be happy” all the way to hell (source).

I haven’t read Osteen’s book and don’t plan to. But I have watched enough of Osteen on television to know that his preaching is as Gospel-free as Gilbert says his book is. Go check out the rest of Gilbert’s review. It’s sad, but it sounds the alarm that many need to hear.

For more on Joel Osteen:
My Previous Posts on Joel Osteen
“Osteen’s answer to ‘gay marriage’ question less than direct” – Baptist Press (Sept 22, 2006)
“Meanwhile, In No Apparent Danger of Arrest” – by R. Albert Mohler


Barry Breaks-in to Blogosphere

Denny & Barry at RA camp-out, circa 1985My best friend of 22 years, Barry Joslin, has a new blog, on which he has posted a favorable review of a certain book (a book whose name I don’t want to mention seeing as how I don’t want to appear self-serving, though please don’t expect me to direct your attention to any negative reviews of said book 🙂 ).

Go check out Barry’s new site. As the kids say, it’s da bomb!

Review of The Last Word by N. T. Wright

Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of ScriptureN. T. Wright. The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005. 160pp. $19.95.

I appreciate Bishop N. T. Wright’s willingness to address the church through writing popular books. Wright is the consummate scholar and is perfectly capable of producing the kind of work that would only be accessible to specialists in the field of New Testament studies. Yet over the years he has included among his prolific output books addressed to the interested layman. His recent short work, The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture, is one such book.

The main thrust of Wright’s argument in The Last Word is that Christians must understand the “authority of Scripture” as Continue reading Review of The Last Word by N. T. Wright

Review of “Where Is Boasting?”

Simon J. Gathercole. Where Is Boasting: Early Jewish Soteriology and Paul’s Response in Romans 1-5. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002. 311pp. $32.00.

Simon J. Gathercole fires a salvo into the ongoing battle over Paul’s doctrine of Justification and the new perspective on Paul. In Where Is Boasting: Early Jewish Soteriology and Paul’s Response in Romans 1-5, Gathercole contends with the growing consensus among Pauline scholars that the Judaism of Paul’s day was not a legalistic religion of merit, but a gracious dispensation of covenantal election. This work represents Gathercole’s Ph.D. dissertation which he wrote under the supervision of James D. G. Dunn, with whom Gathercole is in decided disagreement.

Gathercole argues that E. P. Sanders’ scheme of “getting in” and “staying in” has very little eschatology (p. 23). That is, Jewish soteriology was based not merely on divine election (à la covenantal nomism), but also on final salvation by works (à la eschatological judgment). According to Gathercole, new perspective scholars have overemphasized the former at the expense of the latter. Gathercole attempts to show that the evidence of second-Temple Jewish literature paints a different picture.

Continue reading Review of “Where Is Boasting?”

Review of “Choosing a Bible” by Leland Ryken

Leland Ryken, Choosing a Bible: Understanding Bible Translation Differences (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005). 32pp. $3.99.

This little 32-page booklet is in many ways an extension and abstract of Leland Ryken’s earlier and more comprehensive work, The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation (Crossway, 2002). The booklet consists of three chapters and an appendix. Chapter one asks and answers the question, “How Do Bible Translations Differ from Each Other?” Here Ryken introduces the distinction between dynamic equivalent and formal equivalent approaches to translation. Chapter two sets forth five negative effects of the dynamic equivalent approach. Chapter Three discusses ten reasons why “essentially literal” translations are trustworthy. The Appendix consists of a chart that places specific translations along a spectrum that has formal equivalence on the left side, dynamic equivalence in the middle, and paraphrase on the right side.

Continue reading Review of “Choosing a Bible” by Leland Ryken

Review of Bart Ehrman’s ‘Misquoting Jesus’

Bart D. Ehrman. Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. HarperSanFrancisco, 2005. 242pp. $24.95.

What hath John Stewart to do with John the Apostle? Stewart is just one of the many figures in the popular media who have been lining up to interview Bart Ehrman about his controversial book, Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. I would wager that the book’s heady subject matter (Text Criticism, a.k.a. “TC”) normally receives very little airtime on Comedy Central. Nevertheless, even Stephen Colbert has gotten in on the action by posing as an advocate of inerrancy in his combative interview with Ehrman on the hit show “The Colbert Report.”

Continue reading Review of Bart Ehrman’s ‘Misquoting Jesus’

N. T. Wright’s “Paul: In Fresh Perspective”

N. T. Wright. Paul: In Fresh Perspective. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005. 195pp. $25.00.

In many ways, there is not much that is “fresh” about N. T. Wright’s Paul: In Fresh Perspective. The book consists largely of a rehashing of material that he has already written about elsewhere. Wright acknowledges this fact in the preface where he states that the current work develops themes from three of his previous writings on Paul: What Saint Paul Really Said (Eerdmans, 1997), The Climax of the Covenant (T. & T. Clark, 1992), and his commentary on Romans in the New Interpreters Bible (Abingdon, 2003). Wright is not so much attempting to break new ground in this work, but rather he intends for it to stand as a pointer to a fuller treatment of Paul that will form volume IV of his series “Christian Origins and the Question of God” (p. xi).

The book divides into two parts that broadly define the direction of Wright’s thinking on Paul. In part one, “Themes,” Wright’s introductory chapter locates Paul in his own historical setting. According to Wright, Paul was a man shaped by “three worlds” plus one: Second-Temple Judaism, Hellenistic Culture, the Roman Empire, and the church. In this chapter, Wright also reaffirms his commitment to the so-called “new perspective” on Paul. The remainder of part one is taken up with three dyads that according to Wright form the matrices from which Pauline theology develops: Creation and Covenant (chapter 2), Messiah and Apocalyptic (chapter 3), and Gospel and Empire (chapter 4).

Continue reading N. T. Wright’s “Paul: In Fresh Perspective”