What's the difference between Osteen and Piper?

After watching the 60 Minutes piece on Joel Osteen Sunday night (did you see it?), my sister-in-law, Cindy, posed a good question. What's the difference between Olsteen's message and Piper's Christian hedonism?

This question deserves a book-length answer - in which case, I'd suggest Piper's God is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself.

Here's my attempt at a short answer.

Osteen focuses on finding joy in God's blessings, Piper on finding joy in God himself. The foundation is different. For Osteen, the foundation is become a better you, enjoy God's blessings and experience God's favor, have your best life now.

For Piper the foundation is make the glory of God your treasure. And if that means embracing martyrdom in order to maximize God as your treasure so be it. The best life is not now, but the better and enduring pleasure of being at God's right hand forever more.

Or you could say it this way. The difference is in the object of one's pleasure. Pleasure itself is a good thing. We basically worship whatever we take pleasure in. But is the object God's blessings or God himself? That's the difference.

Correction: Osteen, not Olsteen. Sorry!


Amanda said...

Hmm, interesting. My mom and I just had a conversation about Osteen in a Borders the other day. From what I gathered she watches him not for spiritual guidance but for entertainment. Tim says, "I wonder if this qualifies as the definition of irony?"

CityStreams said...

I was really hoping that you'd answer Brian! You hit the nail right on the head. I was assuming that pleasure itself was the problem but you're right it's the object of our pleasures that get us in trouble or conversely glorify God. Thanks for putting it in perspective.
And the teacher in me can't help but notice you misspelled Osteen. But I won't take off any points this time ;o)