Well it did not take long and the internet did not disappoint. Yesterday I posted about my plan for Lent to instead of fast from something for 40 days, to add something to my daily routine. I am spending 40 days with Joel Osteen. Yes you read that right. I am spending 40 days with the “prosperity theologian” (a title give by a UMC clergy member via Facebook) himself. Many people often see names like Joel Osteen, Mark Driscoll, or Jimmy Swaggart and immediately shut down. They refuse to listen or even engage these people’s thoughts or words. But the fact of the matter is, these types of preachers have a wide audience that we (leaders in the church) need to be aware of and engage.
Even if we disagree with what these people are saying we have to know what they are actually saying so that we can respond. Name calling does nothing more than create a shouting match or closes off any opportunity for dialogue. There is not one theologian who has a 100% accurate theology. There were 12 men who walked along Christ and even they were confused by some of the teachings, decisions, and miracles they witnessed with their own eyes.
Now, does this make me a heretic? Will the Church powers at-be hunt me down, hold a trial, and burn me at the stake? Probably not. What I hope will come from this exercise is what I stated yesterday, I want to learn “something from someone I have written off as wrong or off his rocker”. To say that I cannot learn from someone else, even if I ardently disagree with them is in my opinion off the rocker.
If your theological perspective is so weak that you cannot at least listen to another theological perspective that you may not agree with then there are other problems at hand that should be addressed. As I wrote in a Facebook response yesterday:
“I am not flying to Houston to see the man, inviting him over for dinner, or asking him if we can co-write a book together. I just want to listen. Maybe next week I will hear something that tells me he is the devil with perfect hair as some have claimed. But I won’t know unless I listen. And if I don’t at least listen, then how can I properly respond to something when it is really off the rocker? I am not a Joel Osteen fan. I don’t own one of his books or plan to buy one anytime soon (maybe he’ll send me a copy if he reads this) but I do not see how the devil will enter into me, take control, or how my own theological will be weakened by simply listening.”
All I want to do during Lent is listen. Listen for how God can speak through someone I do not agree with, see eye-to-eye with, or maybe in the future even stand to be in the same room with. Is that really a bad idea?