Most people who know me know that I was converted to Christ, at the age of twenty-one, in a small Assembly of God church in Southern Missouri. For years, I was a blatantly Charismatic Christian. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I started to come around to a Reformed point of view. The misuse of the Charismatic Gifts (in which I DO still believe), was one part of what lead me away from actively Charismatic churches. The other thing was probably the lack of solid theology in the sermons.
Now I’m going to say that I have had a few really good theologian ministers in those churches. Phil Tanner, who led me and my father to Christ, was a good theologian. Christian Salzillo, a youth pastor from Springfield, MO, who left to minister in Georgia, was an on-fire theologian. In fact, the pastors at Parkcrest Assembly in Springfield, for the most part, where good ministers. But that church and Ellsinore Assembly of God, in Ellsionore, MO, seemed to be the exception, rather than the rule.
I also have some really good friends who are still Charismatic Christians. Basically, if you’re on my friends’ list on Facebook and you are a Christian, I know that you are my brother or sister and this blog entry is not about you.
I am an active critic of Joel Osteen. I do not believe that the man is a true minister of the Gospel. He acts as a self-help guru who seasons his messages with just enough Scripture to make people think that they’ve watched church. “Sin” isn’t preached, even though the Good News is that Jesus’s Sacrifice saved us from our sin.
I just had the pleasure (or displeasure, as the case may be) of seeing Osteen’s good friend, David Crank, speaking on television. The sad thing is that the sermon that he was preaching was different than his normal, Prosperity Gospel-laden fare. It COULD have been a good sermon about learning to be thankful in all things. But, he didn’t preach a sermon. He did a half-hour comedy routine. You see, he is not a self-help guru like his friend. He is a stand-up comedian who peppers his routines with just enough Scripture so that his audience can say that they’ve gone to church. He also used his friend’s book title during the routine, telling you that you needed to get to (his) church so that you can “Have your best life now!” I agree with John MacArthur on his response to this book title. “You can’t have your best life now unless you’re going to Hell.”
We need true ministers in the pulpit. Men who are not afraid to preach ALL of the Bible. Men who are not afraid to warn us of sin and Hell. Men who understand that we sometimes have to hear the uncomfortable truth that we are being saved from something and who understand that we are not in church to be entertained. A joke in your sermon? Good. A stand-up routine? If I wanted that, I’d buy a Tim Hawkins video. He’s much better at it.