Dluxe's World

Thursday, October 26

Mega Champ Power Battle!!! Osteen vs. Owen

I'm picking slowly through Overcoming Sin and Temptation, a fresh edited collection of the writings of the great Puritan writer, John Owen. In the midst of reading, an email from MLF prompted me to think about Joel Osteen...

What do these two men, Smilin' Joel and Puritan John, have to offer to us as followers of Christ today? Owen died a long time ago, while Osteen is so 'now'. I thought I'd offer a couple quotes, letting the authors speak for themselves, for comparison. Both come from the early, introductory sections of their books and are roughly equal in length.

First, from Osteen's bestseller:
I heard a story about a man on vacation in Hawaii with his wife. He was a good man who had achieved a modest measure of success, but he was coasting along, thinking that he’s already reached his limits in life. One day, a friend was driving the couple around the island, showing them the sights. They stopped to admire a gorgeous house set high on a hill. The property was replete with beautiful palm trees and lush green gardens in a picturesque, peaceful setting with a panoramic view overlooking the ocean.

As the man gazed at the magnificent home, he commented to his wife and friend, "I can’t even imagine living in a place like that."

Right there, something inside him said, Don’t worry. You won’t. You will never live in a great place like that.

Startled at his own thoughts, he asked himself, What do you mean?

As long as you can’t imagine it, as long as you can’t see it, then it is not going to happen for you. The man correctly realized that his own thoughts and attitudes were condemning him to mediocrity. He determined then and there to start believing better of himself, and believing better of God.

It’s the same way with us. We have to conceive it on the inside before we’re ever going to receive it on the outside. If you don’t think you can have something good, then you never will. The barrier is in your mind. It’s not God’s lack of resources or your lack of talent that prevents you from prospering. Your own wrong thinking can keep you from God’s best. (Your Best Life Now, p. 3)

Ok... Thus saith Joel. Compare and contrast his quote with with this one from John Owen:
Sin will not only be striving, acting, rebelling, troubling, disquieting, but if let alone, if not continually mortified, it will bring forth great, cursed, scandalous, soul-destroying sins. The apostle tells us what the works and fruits of it are. "The works of the flesh are manifest, which are, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like" (Gal. 5:19-21). You know what it did in David and sundry others. Sin aims always at the utmost; every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin in that kind. Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head... [E]very rise of lust, might it have its course, would come to the height of villainy: it is like the grave that is never satisfied. And herein lies no small share of the deceitfulness of sin ... [I]t is modest, as it were, in its first motions and proposals, but having once got footing in the heart by them, it constantly makes good its ground, and presses on to some farther degrees in the same kind.


Now nothing can prevent this but mortification; that withers the root and strikes at the head of sin every hour, so that whatever it aims at, it is crossed in. There is not the best saint in the world but, if he should give over this duty, would fall into as many cursed sins as ever any did of his kind. (Overcoming Sin and Temptation, pp.52-53)

Whaddaya think? Now, there are obviously differences in language... But you're all smart people and can process Owen's heavy prose!

I could start a long screed here, offering my strongly-held opinions about both writings. However, I will refrain. Instead, I just want to ask a question:

Which of the competing methodologies (self-help-cheerleader positivism on one hand, getting our hands greasy in the depth of our sinfulness on the other) is more likely to accomplish real, God-honoring change in the life of a believer? Which delivers our best life now and a life that will cross into eternity?

"Sin sets its strength against every act of holiness and against every degree we grow to. Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lusts. He who does not kill sin in his way takes no steps toward his journey’s end. He who finds not opposition from it, and who sets not himself in every particular to its mortification, is at peace with it, not dying to it." (Overcoming Sin and Temptation, p.55)

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  • Good post. I'm looking forward to reading this book (Owen's, not Osteens's).

    On a side note, when I click on the title it links to a rather strange YouTube Popeye video. Was that intentional?

    By Blogger Webmaster, at 5:41 PM, October 26, 2006  

  • Hi Webmaster... Thanks for stopping in!

    I'm looking forward to reading this book (Owen's, not Osteens's).

    *grin* Glad you picked the right one.

    I'm really enjoying Owen so far... At the recent Desiring God Conference, I think it was Tim Keller who said that he wouldn't have lasted in ministry if it without Owen's "Mortification". I can see why. It's great.

    when I click on the title it links to a rather strange YouTube Popeye video. Was that intentional?

    Yeah... For some reason, my twisted mind pictured the 'matchup' between Owen and Osteen like some anime flick. That's what I was going for with the title and the link.

    Just being [strange ol'] me.

    In Christ, Dluxe

    By Blogger HeavyDluxe, at 8:05 PM, October 26, 2006  

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