Thursday, January 3, 2008

Themsis' fightin' words

Well, it didn't take long for the brickbats to follow our articles on Joel Osteen's unbiblical gospel.

I was rather surprised when Joy forwarded to me this vapid letter of rebuke from one Bob Ross, a fellow I'd never heard of before. A couple net searches turns up that this Mr. Ross runs Pilgrim Publications, a publishing firm that publishes the sermons and writings of the legendary Charles Spurgeon's, the so-called "prince of preachers." Had he stayed there, he'd probably sleep better at nights. It also seems that he has become a shrill critic of those who hold to doctrines he believes should be piddled upon in the name of the purity of whatever concept of Christian faith he holds to be true and dear, Calvinism and "pedobaptism" being the particular targets of his online screeds in which he addresses himself as "Brother Bob".

What's even weirder is that this gentleman has become one of the more incendiary apologistas for - you guessed it - none other then the irrepressible Joel Osteen himself. Incredible, but true. I wondered to myself .. could this be another sign of the endtime apostasy? I sat and mulled on this a second, wondering how a Spurgeon fanatic and self-anointed swatter of what he calls "Calvinistic theological errors/flies" - depending on where you read on his blog - could become so completely mush-minded as to accept Osteen's Christless preaching as Biblical. Still, stranger things have happened when seemingly grounded Christian figures go off the deep end and wander their star into quagmires of their own creation, leading too many there with them

(cue video of John Shelby Spong, Hobart Freeman, Gwen Shamblin, Carlton Pearson, Jay Bakker, ad nauseum)

Between smearing the Tulip confession and deciding which of the works of the good reverend Spurgeon to again reprint, Mr. Ross apparently feels that His Best Life Now involves being a gadfly across the Internet, savaging those who criticize Osteen. Apparently, I'm just another one of those who've enjoyed the company of a Pilgrim passing through. So when he decided to address my fellow apologist homeys Jeff Downs and Lance King in an apologetics forum I do not
subscribe to (but at one time did several years ago) I decided that I'd need to respond to it here on this blog. I trust Mr. Ross won't mind me doing this for the sake of clarity and in the spirit of rejoinder he obviously likes to "engage" with. And I'm endeavoring in this since no one is here to stop me, and this is my blog, and I am what it says I am and I will never, never, never be the
same again ..

oops .. excuse me, I've been watching too much of Joel lately.

Anyway, I'm sure Brother Bob you won't mind me sharing my own thoughts here ..

Dear Rafel, Lance, and Jeff Downs:

I always "consider the source" when I read the type of critical materials you
present against Joel Osteen, as sent to me via email.

It never fails to amaze me at how many ways people continue to misspell my name. Never. At least Mr. Ross was positive enough to start his excoriation with the kinder and gentler
approbation of "Dear ..." That's better then how I've started .. anyway, on to Bob's consideration:

Your religious affiliation (Church of God, Cleveland) and organizational
affilliations and recommendations do not gain my respect for you as
competent critics.

Hmmm. Now that's a new angle, there Bob! I've been called a lot of thing in the past. Arminian moron, anti-this, holy roller cultist, the usual blackening of character. My Pentecostal perspective on Christian life has figured prominently in them. One guy once said I sounded too balanced to be Pentecostal. Themsis fightin' words, the good ol' boys on the Maytag assembly line I used to work on here a few years ago might say. So hearing my movement, the Church of God (Cleveland) missing muster with Mister Mustard - er, Ross isn't too far off the mark from other digs in the past (sorry, the alliterative temptation was too good to pass up). It was an easy cheap shot though - you diss the Church of God and never say one reason why.

What happened, did a Church of God preacher lay heavy hands on you at an old fashioned altar in the past? Did you get an atomic wedgie at a Church of God youth camp in your tender past? I mean, come on, what is it about my movement you don't like?

This strange criticism begs the question - what is it in Mr. Ross's estimation makes one a "competent critic"? .. According toMr. Ross wrote of himself that

“I was baptized in the Methodist Church at any early myself, but I later heard the simple Gospel such as preached by Joel Osteen, and the Lord granted me repentance and faith in Christ. That simple Gosple works, and I am still rejoicing in it after nearly 53 years of professing it. NOTE TO JOEL CRITICS:
There’s no need sending me trash talk about Joel. I listen to him every Sunday,
and until I hear something worthy of my changing my attitude about him, you can save your breath. I AM PRO-JOEL.”

So, Bob, let's review a working hypothesis here .. I think it's fair to assume that you say that

1) Being involved in a "working simple Gosple" found only after departing your church


2) Only hearing something you arbitrarily decide is "worthy" will lead you to open your mind about Joel Osteen

are the criterion you establish for your status as a "competent critic." This is a rather curious choice of discernment there. It works well for all kinds of people who find the truth to be too troublesome to bother with and who dig this hill to die upon for the "Truth" they want to live by.

Do you watch a lot of movies, Bob? I really don't, but your petulant little outburst here reminded me of a hilarious scene in "Fever Pitch." It's when the Red Sox fanatic Ben, dining with his new girlfriend Lindsay, warbles like a six year old and claps his hands over his ears when trying to avoid hearing someone in the next table over discussing the ongoing Red Sox game he wasn't watching at that moment. It's a scream of a scene.

Only this isn't funny. You show how seemingly bereft of discernment you are. Cultists of all stripes do the exact same thing you apparently commend yourself with: express utter surrender to the preaching of a man who stands for nothing except establishing God as an indulgent Daddy ready to pimp your ride through life AND shutting your brain off from any objective thought about it unless it's "worthy." Feh.

You are spot on, Bob, about one thing: Joel Osteen's gospel IS simple ..

It is so simple that if you breathe on it, it will crumble into a billion bits, just the point that our articles make. Osteen's brand of "far and away favor" will never prepare people for real life in a real world. If that is the kind of religion you want to cling to, go right ahead. Just don't dignify it with the term Christianity. You mock Christ anytime you foolishly assert that Joel Osteen stands for Him.

Jeff Downs, for example, who sent me your link,is a pedobaptist, committed to a theology which alleges that little babies born to believers get "born
again" in their infancy, and that adults get "born again before faith." The
fact that he likes your material does not commend it to me.

Whatever difference, Mr. Ross, you may have with Jeff's theology, here's something to think about: at least Jeff HAS a theology and a position to stand upon that can be cogently argued, discussed, disagreed or agreed with. Jeff stands for a whole lot more than "pedobaptism" and is one of the most solidly and doctrinally anchored young Christian men I've ever known. Ditto for Lance King whose passion for theology is beyond question. Those are foundations they enjoy that the sandy shoals of Lakewood's "podium" never have had - and which you apparently flounder upon.

I seem to remember a verse in the old book about building upon sand ..

For another example, you are affiliated with EMNR, and based on my knowledge of that group over the years, this tends to discredit you rather than commend you.

Glad to hear you're such an astute observer of EMNR. Oh wait, I don't recall seeing you at any EMNR conventions lately. I don't recall hearing of your courageous attempts to swat the flies there. Come to the next one in Kansas City in a couple months. Be man enough to come face those who you feel "discredit" me, Jeff or Lance and see what manner of Christian servants they are. Your swatter won't reach that far, I assure you.

Also, some of the authors and books you recommend tend to discredit your
competency with me.

Ah yes, more of the critierion of "competency" ..

Walter Martin, for example, who help popularize so-called "apologetics," will "eduip" no one on the Eternal Sonship of Christ, which he rejected. In a TV debate with two prominent Oneness ministers (Urshan and Sabin), Martin denied Eternal Sonship, as he does in his book on cults.

Themsis' fightin' words, brother Bob. You need to document this high sounding charge, which sounds terribly THEOLOGICAL to me. How dare you resort to anything but the "simple" Gospel!

No, seriously .. I'd really like to see you produce your evidence of such a scurrilious charge. I don't think you have a leg to stand upon, but I'm willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt. The TV debate you refer to is in my collection of videotapes. Document, please, at what point in this discussion that Dr. Martin "denied Eternal Sonship." I'll pull it out and watch it to find it.

When confronted by me, the current CRI headed by Hank Hanegraaff, said in a letter to me that the current CRI differS with Martin, and rejects his position. Joel Osteen is sounder on the Person of Christ than was Walter Martin whom you recommend!

As to what the current CRI stands for is less a concern for me since I do not support CRI nor Hank Hanegraaf's ministry whatsoever due to issues I don't have time to get into. I'm just glad you're there to confront everyone to help bring the light of truth on things. So therefore, if there's a letter you can send or post to the internet that shows that Mr. Hanegraaf rejects Dr. Martin's position because of an allegation that he denies the eternal Sonship of Jesus, let me lapse into good old fashioined polemic: I dares ya .. I double DOG dares ya .. to do so. Go for it. I would LOVE to see it.

As to what Joel Osteen thinks about the Eternal Sonship of Christ is largely a subject of speculation. Remember, Bob, this is your pastor speaking:

"I mean, there’s a lot better people qualified to say, 'Here’s a book that going to explain the scriptures to you.' I don’t think that’s my gifting," Osteen says.

Bobby, son, I seem to recall a verse or two to back up what I say about pastors being competent teachers who reprove, rebuke and correct with longsuffering and doctrine in the old Book. That hasn't apparently occurred to your pastor -apparently.

I suggest you put your proofs down for your next Spurgeon anthology and search those verses out. By the way, how do you make one of those funny pointy hats that press workers used to wear in those old movies where the newspaper presses were being stopped? Maybe you can make one and wear it while you read the Bible. Remember that scene in "Signs" when the kids were trying to keep the aliens from reading their minds? In some way, I think that might help you out here.

But more -- much more -- than these obvious elements which reflect upon your attributes to be competent as critics of Joel Osteen (or anyone else), I find your material utterly extraneous, nit-picking, ridiculous, and phantasmagorical.

Gee, Bob, that really cuts deep. It never dawned on me as to how incompetent I could be. I never knew my elements were so obvious and my deficit of attributes so plain. How I wish I'd seen one of your ads when I was a young Christian many yarrons ago that could have directed me to the Bob Ross Institute For Competent Criticism, how much more farther along I might be in life!

Be that as it may, I think by the grace of God and the light of the Scriptures and the Spirit of Christ, I've come along pretty well. Since you haven't the fortitude nor intellectual honesty to document what it is about the articles that you find so warped, there's no way to gauge how delusional or truthful you might be here. Again, unlike you, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. But not for real long, though. Once more, you remind me of Jimmy Fallon freaking everyone out at dinner. That is really some of the strangest flights of rhetorical fancy that I've ever heard about my writing!

I will not elaborate, as there's simply too much palabber to mention, but I will cite one major instance which clearly demonstrates your utter incompetence as critics of Joel: "The situation is as it is: Joel Osteen's teaching has little to nothing to do with the person and work of Jesus Christ. Osteen's total lack of understanding of the exclusivity of Christ . . . " etc. My advice to you is that you prayerfully consider getting into a more positive work in contrast to your current incompetent "ministry" of selling merchandise on the pretext of "equipping" naive Christians.

Your work is example of why I have so little use for the appalling entrepreneurs (apologists) who more appropriately could be called "Appallingists."

Boy that one really hurt, didn't it Bob?

I bet you and others of the Joel Osteen Experience had a lot of egg to lick off his face when Joel hit Fox News with his inane patter on the LDS Church on the eve of the remembrance of the Incarnation of the Eternal Son of God. Sorry to rain on your parade, but when your pastor goes on national television to commend Mormonism as the equivalency of Christianity, your whining about my incompetence simply becomes nothing but hot air.

If there was any doubt that Joel Osteen is absent of any sound understanding of the person and work of Jesus Christ, and that He alone is the way to God the Father, then Joel thunderously silenced it with his plaintive Texas lilt affirming for millions just the opposite.

Your folly will follow you, Bobby. Be careful now ..

Perhaps you might consider a new vocation yourself: why don't you join the Committee Of Interfaith Dialogue that meets at the Starbucks outside the Lakewood Church to help unify the Jehovah's Witnesses and Moonies with your outreach to penetrate Houston. Why don't you get them involved in helping everyone find the champion within themselves? While you are at it, have Yisrael Hawkins channel Marshal Appelwhite while Kenneth Copeland does a holding pattern at 35,000 feet above Waco so as to bring peace to the midlands?

I think I've said all I care to say to you about it Bobby. I'll be waiting to hear from you on your baseless charges. FYI .. you might want find more peace of mind and freedom from those mean and nasty appallingists by unsubbing from the APPALLINGETICS email list you sent this silly letter of yours out own.

Oh hey, don't get me wrong, I think Spurgeon is certainly one of the finest Christian
expositors to have ever lived, but that canonizing title "prince of preachers" sounds like something coming out of a marketing focus group at Destiny Image then from the starry eyed 19th century fans of his.

I surely hope, Bob, that you're above that kind of hero worship.

But thanks for making me the target of your venom. I'm part of the club now. First, the Internet Monk, then James White. And now me! I am sure Lance, Jeff and I all have the same big lumps in our throats knowing we've been targetted along with some really cool Christian expositors. I can die now, knowing my life was not a total waste.

Ciao, Roberto!