Breaking Fellowship with Someone (a Joel Osteen Discussion)

26 Sep

Romans 16:17, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”

The other night I entered into what became a heated exchange between about a dozen people on Facebook about some statements recently made by Joel Osteen.

Some of the participants in the discussion believed the statements reveal that Osteen is not orthodox in his Christianity–that he is a “false prophet” who is not even truly a Christian.

Others believed that the statements were quoted out of context.

I don’t know either way. Joel Osteen doesn’t matter that much to me to even look them up. I don’t listen to him anyway.

However, what came next was telling.

One woman quoted the above verse as a proof text that anyone who listened to Joel Osteen was also not truly a Christian.

That was where I entered into the discussion. Two of my young friends had been defending Joel Osteen. Unlike me, they have listened to him. But, unlike what this woman was saying, I believe that my young friends are truly born again Christians.

And I believe that woman on Facebook was taking the above verse out of context.

The verse, in context, is about causing unnecessary divisions in the Body of Christ. That would be divisions over fine points of doctrine. On those, we are allowed a conscience clause.

I sometimes read controversial writers because I need to know what they are saying, both to teach a Sunday school class and to write my blog. I often research them so I can state a Scriptural case for why I disagree with them.

I see nowhere in the Bible that we are called to put our heads in the sand and ignore everyone who teaches contrary to what we teach.

We do have to be careful to not endorse teaching that is not orthodox Christianity. But my two young friends were not doing that. They had quietly listened to a few of Joel Osteen’s teachings in the past–they were not pushing them on anyone else.

And the woman on Facebook was making that a litmus test as to whether my two friends could be born again.

That is just wrong.

I have taught Sunday school with the mothers of both of those young gals for years. I have watched these friends grow up and start their families. Both are incredible moms, in church and raising their children to love the Lord. I may not always agree with them or with the people they choose to read, but they might not always agree with me on my choices either. That is what Christian liberty is. The freedom to read and think and pray and work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

And the verse in Romans says the person who causes unnecessary division is the one who is wrong. Like the person who throws a remark out there that anyone who has ever listened to a sermon by Joel Osteen is going to hell. That person allows no Christian liberty to anyone except herself!!!

May God protect us from ourselves! We are our own worst enemies sometimes in the Body of Christ!!!

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