For interested readers, Heide Metcaf is doing a five-part series about Human Trafficking on the Common Grounds Online blog.
I am so very thankful to learn that Joel Osteen has apologized for the remarks that he made in his recent interview with Larry King. I wrote about the interview last week and was very disappointed with Osteen’s failure to present a clear and unambiguous declaration of the Gospel.
But he has retracted his statements in the interview and has apologized for giving the impression that there is any other way to be saved other than through Jesus Christ. You can read his apology on his website (click here to read it). Osteen writes, “I hope that you accept my deepest apology and see it in your heart to extend to me grace and forgiveness.”
I will offer Al Mohlerâ€™s response to this apology as my own: â€œthe only proper response is to extend the very forgiveness for which he asksâ€”and with equal humility. Other concerns can wait for another day.â€
One of Larry Kingâ€™s recent interviews has been very disappointing. In this case, the interviewer is not the one disappointing me, but the interviewee, Rev. Joel Osteen. I think it is unfortunate that Osteen, having voiced his agreement with the prosperity-gospel, is still put forward as a spokesman for evangelicalism. Moreover, Osteen makes remarks that I donâ€™t know how to interpret except as a flat out rejection of the exclusivity of the Gospel message.
The following is from Larry Kingâ€™s interview with Joel Osteen. I hope that Osteen just misspoke and will retract some of this. The end is especially troubling.
OSTEEN: My message, I wanted to reach the mainstream. We’ve reached the church audience. So I just try to, what I do is just try to teach practical principles. I may not bring the scripture in until the end of my sermon and i might feel bad about that. Here’s the thought. I talked yesterday about living to give. That’s what a life should be about. I brought in at the end about some of the scriptures that talk about
that. But same principal in the book.
KING: Is it hard to lead a Christian life?
OSTEEN: I don’t think it’s that hard. To me it’s fun. We have joy and happiness. Our family — I don’t feel like that at all. I’m not trying to follow a set of rules and stuff. I’m just living my life.
KING: But you have rules, don’t you?
OSTEEN: We do have rules. But the main rule to me is to honor God with your life. To life a life of integrity. Not be selfish. You know, help others. But that’s really the essence of the Christian faith.
KING: That we live in deeds?
OSTEEN: I don’t know. What do you mean by that?
KING: Because we’ve had ministers on who said, your record don’t count. You either believe in Christ or you don’t. If you believe in Christ, you are, you are going to heaven. And if you don’t no matter what you’ve done in your life, you ain’t.
OSTEEN: Yeah, I don’t know. There’s probably a balance between. I believe you have to know Christ. But I think that if you know Christ, if you’re a believer in God, you’re going to have some good works. I think it’s a cop-out to say I’m a Christian but I don’t ever do anything…
KING: What if you’re Jewish or Muslim, you don’t accept Christ at all?
OSTEEN: You know, I’m very careful about saying who would and wouldn’t go to heaven. I don’t know…
KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They’re wrong, aren’t hey?
OSTEEN: Well, I don’t know if I believe they’re wrong. I believe here’s what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God with judge a person’s heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don’t know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don’t know. I’ve seen their sincerity. So I don’t know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.
There are many problems in this exchange, and most of the readers of this blog will spot them without my commenting upon them point by point. Yet there is one item that is particularly troubling. When Larry King asks about the destiny of sincere Muslims, Osteen will not come out and say that Jesus is the only way of Salvation. I do not understand why Osteen couldnâ€™t just quote the Bible (maybe John 14:6 or Acts 4:12)? If he canâ€™t bring himself to say it in his own words, why canâ€™t he just quote the Bible and leave it at that?
My fear is that unbelievers hearing this interview probably did not glean the truth that every person who has ever lived faces judgment because of their sin and that faith alone in the crucified and risen Christ is manâ€™s only hope of salvation. This is the heart of the Gospel, and it was not at all clear in Osteenâ€™s interview. I donâ€™t think that this man believes that there is more than one way of salvation, but the interview seems to imply that people of other faiths might be okay after all.
So I am disappointed and hoping for a retraction or perhaps some clarification. I hope one or both comes soon.
Members of the Korean American Presbyterian Church of Queens. Koreans are among those swelling the ranks of evangelical Christians. – James Estrin/The New York Times
An interesting story in todayâ€™s New York Times talks about the population of evangelicals living in New York City. So how do New Yorkers, by and large, feel about evangelicals in there midst?
â€œStill, the prevailing culture of this city is still unsure of what to make of evangelical Christians, most churchgoers interviewed agreed. They can be treated with contempt and other times curiosity. Mickey H. Sanchez, 26, who works for a city councilman and attends Redeemer Presbyterian Church, said he finds that people are often confused when they discover that he’s an evangelical. â€˜That you’re in New York as an evangelical, it has to be processed by them,â€™ he saidâ€ (source).
I guess meeting a Martian would be the only thing stranger than meeting an evangelical in New York. Still, the article discusses the burgeoning evangelical population in the city. This population is presumably going to populate the upcoming Billy Graham crusade. This is unfortunate. I think it would be better if the evangelistic crusade could actually reach some non-evangelicals. Hopefully, we havenâ€™t come to the point where seeing a Martian at the crusade would be the only thing stranger than seeing a non-evangelical there.
There are at least 30 states â€œthat recognize the unlawful killing of an unborn child as homicide in at least some circumstances.â€ The laws that forbid such killing have come to be known as â€œFetal Homicide Laws.â€ There is a situation brewing now in Lufkin, Texas that might call some of these laws into question from a constitutional perspective.
A 19-year-old young man in Lufkin, Texas was just sentenced to life in prison for ending his girlfriendâ€™s pregnancy (source). The man was accused of stepping on his girlfriendâ€™s stomach and causing her to miscarry. The hitch here is that he did this deed with the apparent consent of his girlfriend who wanted to end the pregnancy (source). Could he not argue on appeal that his girlfriend has the constitutional right to choose to end her pregnancy (Ã la Roe v. Wade), and he was just helping to carry out her wishes?
The case brings into sharp relief an inconsistency in our lawsâ€”an inconsistency that illustrates the immorality of abortion. John Piper has commented to this effect on the fetal homicide law in Minnesota:
â€œThere is a fetal homicide law in Minnesota. According to the Minneapolis Tribune it â€˜MAKES IT MURDER TO KILL AN EMBRYO OR FETUS INTENTIONALLY, EXCEPT IN CASES OF ABORTION.â€™ Now what makes the difference here? Why is it murder to take the life of an embryo in one case and not murder in the case of abortion? Now watch this carefully, because it reveals the stunning implications of the pro-choice position. The difference lies in the choice of the mother. If the mother chooses that her fetus live, it is murder to kill it. If she chooses for her fetus not to live, it is not murder to kill it. In other words in our laws we have now made room for some killing to be justified not on the basis of the crimes of the one killed, but solely on the basis of another person’s will or choice. If I choose for the embryo to be dead, it is legal to kill it. If I choose for the embryo to live, it is illegal to kill it. The effective criterion of what is legal or illegal, in this ultimate issue of life and death, is simply this: the will of the strong. There is a name for this. We call it anarchy. It is the essence of rebellion against objective truth and against Godâ€ (â€œChallenging Church and Culture with Truthâ€).
Pro-choice forces are aware of this tension, and that is why they are generally opposed to fetal homicide laws. Pro-choicers argue that these laws grant an unborn child legal status distinct from the pregnant mother, and this is a notion that they cannot reconcile with their own pro-abortion ideology. Therefore, they â€œprefer to criminalize an assault on a pregnant woman and recognize her as the only victimâ€ (â€œFetal Homicide Laws–What You Need To Knowâ€).
It remains to be seen whether the 19-year-old Texas teen will have any success on appeal. But one thing is certain. The Texas state law is just and reflects the intrinsic value and personhood of the unborn. There is, therefore, nothing wrong with the Texas Fetal Homicide Law. I wish I could say the same for our ailing culture. Believe it or not, there are actually those who would want it to be legal for a father to stomp the life out of his unborn children. God help us.
Stanley Fish, dean emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago
Stanley Fish has contributed an opinion editorial in todayâ€™s New York Times titled â€œDevoid of Content.â€ As a professor who teaches Greek and hermeneutics to undergraduate students and who has graded many papers, I have observed the same thing that that Fish has. Too many students are â€œutterly unable to write a clear and coherent English sentence . . . Students can’t write clean English sentences because they are not being taught what sentences are.â€ Though I am in substantial disagreement with Fish over hermeneutical theory (he is a reader-response critic), his analysis of the literacy crisis and the remedy in his pedagogy are brilliant. For the few language buffs and teachers who read this blog, I recommend that you read â€œDevoid of Content.â€
Source: Stanley Fish, â€œDevoid of Content,â€ The New York Times, May 31, 2005.
The opinion editors of The New York Times have struck again. In one of todayâ€™s editorials, an attempt to be patriotic on Memorial Day weekend appears to be just one more cynical tip-of-the-hat to the culture of death. With a manipulative appeal to the compassion that Americans have for victims of rape and incest, the editors urge that our patriotic duty includes financing abortions for military women serving overseas who might not have access to affordable â€œhealthcareâ€ (In case you didnâ€™t know, â€œhealthcareâ€ has become one of the leftâ€™s euphemisms for abortion).
Here is one more example of why the abortion debate in America remains stifled. The piece contains no serious engagement of pro-life arguments, just the same old hackneyed accusation that pro-lifers donâ€™t care about victims of abuse. I guess the editors think that supporting the right of military women to have tax-payer financed abortions is the same thing as supporting the military. If they think they can use this ploy to trick pro-military conservatives into being pro-abortion, they have another thing coming.
â€œDisrespecting Women Soldiers,â€ The New York Times, May 29, 2005.
â€œCalifornia Democrats try to allow abortions for troops overseas,â€ Associated Press, May 25, 2005
President George W. Bush signs the Born Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 in Pittsburgh, Pa., Monday, Aug. 5, 2002.
In April, President George W. Bush issued a directive instructing doctors to make every effort to save the lives of premature babies born after failed abortions. The new measure is a step towards enforcing the 2002 law known as the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. Under this law, an infant that survives an abortion procedure is no longer a fetus, but a person entitled to emergency medical care and protection against child abuse and neglect.
This law was aimed at preventing situations created by botched abortions, where the baby survives the abortion procedure but is nonetheless left to die. Hearings in Congress on this topic produced disturbing testimony about failed abortions. One medical worker testified concerning one baby who survived an abortion: â€œthe child was breathing, the heart was beating and the child continued to live for several hoursâ€ before finally dying.
According to the New York Times, Naral Pro-Choice America and the Center for Reproductive Rights were asked to comment on the new enforcement measure. Their response was a â€œno comment.â€
I think it is remarkable that Naral and the CRR cannot recognize the absolute atrocity of letting a little baby die on the operating table. I know that Naral and the CRR are clear about their support for legalizing the killing of unborn babies. But why canâ€™t they be just as clear in condemning the killing of babies born alive?
Maybe itâ€™s because these pro-choice advocates would have to admit that there is no morally significant difference between the baby inside the birth canal and the baby outside the birth canal. If the baby is treated as a human person immediately after birth, why is not treated as such immediately before birth? Does the baby go through some magical transformation from non-person to person in the inches that separate the pre-born form the born?
I think the pro-choicers know that if life is treated as precious just outside the womb, then there is no reason not to treat it as precious just inside the womb. And they donâ€™t want to go there. This is why the pro-choice group had â€œno comment.â€ Truly there is no sane comment that could justify their morally indefensible position.
The results of a new study in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology say that women who have an abortion are 1.7 times more likely to give birth prematurely in a later pregnancy. This finding has the potential to explode some of the myths of pro-choice advocates who do not want to admit that any adverse consequences result from abortion. The only way to keep this bomb shell from going off is to keep it buried and out of public view. Letâ€™s see if we hear anything about this story in the news in the coming weeks. Donâ€™t hold your breath.
â€œRevealed: how an abortion puts the next baby at risk,â€ by Michael Day, The London Daily Telegraph, May 15, 2005.
â€œPrevious induced abortions and the risk of very preterm delivery: results of the EPIPAGE study,â€ by Caroline Moreaua, et al., BJOG (April 2005).
“Jesus and the Hooters Girl” is a must-read. Click here, and you will be directed to the appropriate web-page.