Interesting: The "Face of Evangelical Christianity"…
isn’t even evangelical.
This article from the Guardian, sent in by our foreign correspondent Graham Pointer, says “if anybody is the face of evangelical Christianity in America today, it is Joel Osteen.”
Deliver us, Lord.
Wouldn’t it seem that, in order to qualify as “the face of evangelical Christianity in America”, one would have to be able to articulate the “evangel”, the gospel? It’s possible that Mr. Osteen can–but that he chooses not to (at least with anything approaching clarity or fullness) is apparent from his speaking and writing. This relatively glowing piece in the Guardian does mention that Mr. Osteen has critics, but it doesn’t go into detail, but we’re talking about a serious, serious thing if evangelical Christianity comes to be identified, in the minds of people, with Joel Osteen.
A serious–and tragic–thing.
I agree completely. Sad.
I guess another question is; who is the face of evangelical Christianity in America if there is such a person? Evangelical Christianity is missing in action in todays culture.
I don’t think there need be such a person, frankly; we neither have nor need a pope. Yes, it’s disturbing when the face outsiders see is someone like Osteen, to be sure—but the outside world falls victim to the same trap that so many Christians fall victim to: we look at the biggest, the most dazzling, the loudest and glitziest, and assume that those things signal the blessing and approval of God; ergo, we engage in the idolatry of needing to be bigger to validate something within us that doesn’t necessarily spring from the spirit of Jesus.
I rather think, Ken, that it’s too strong a critique to suggest that evangelical Christianity is missing in action. Speaking as I am currently on Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom, I’m drawn to some of the images that He gives in His parables of the kingdom, like the mustard seed. Seems small and insignificant; seems not to be doing much; in the end, it becomes a huge tree. Or some of the parables that describe the kingdom as being “hidden”. Not all that is taking place in evangelical Christianity is likely to make headlines; so what? Frankly, the things that sometimes do make the headlines are things we’d rather not, right? But God is working; I see some genuine signs for optimism with regard to the church in America in the decades to come.