12 March 2008

Carl Trueman Comment on the Health, Wealth and Prosperity Gospel

I was listening to a lecture by Carl Trueman today on Luther’s Theology of the Cross. He was making some modern day applications & as part of his conclusion he remarked:
I want to raise the question that maybe the difference between Joel Osteen and your typical North American Presbyterian is this: Joel Osteen is merely more honest about what he actually believes. Maybe that’s the real difference between many of us and Joel Osteen: he’s honest and we’re not. Which actually makes him a superior moral person to us. I raise that question because its one thing to say on paper that you don’t subscribe to the health, wealth & prosperity gospel and I hope probably everybody in this room would subscribe to that. It’s a different thing to subscribe to it in practice. Are you tempted to curse God when you don’t get that pay raise? Are you tempted to curse God when the plumbing goes wrong and suddenly you’re slapped with that $1000 bill you didn’t expect and didn’t budget for? Are you tempted to curse God when you catch some illness that sets you back? I know I would be in all of those situations. Cards on the table, I’d be very tempted to be disillusioned with God in those situations. Where my question then comes, am I not really a heath, wealth and happiness theologian at that point? Is the difference between myself and Osteen not simply that he’s public and honest about what he believes and I hide what I really believe behind a veneer of Westminster orthodoxy?
He goes on to say that a true understanding of the cross (not just an agreement with penal substitution) will change our expectations.
I appreciate Trueman’s honesty here and I found this a powerful and convicting observation as I’m going through some of the things he mentioned. Let’s ask ourselves what we truly believe about the cross and the promises of God that flow from it. I think many of us could profit from a few moments of reflection on this.

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