Is it ever appropriate to call out prosperity gospel teachers by name?
Mark Driscoll does it. I tuned in one time and he actually played a clip from Joel Osteen.
My problem is that I don't read these guys enough and don't know them well enough. If I read a whole bunch of books by so-and-so and had actual quotes that I could quote and arguments that I could give, I would feel more adequate to say something.
So that's one criterion: I don't feel like I'm in their world enough to know them well enough.
Secondly, if I knew that somebody I knew or my church was being swayed away by somebody that I felt was preaching a gospel different from our gospel, I would probably get real specific with the church, for the church's sake.
So the first reason may be owing to laziness. I don't think it's owing to cowardice.
I think that what happens when you name names is both good and bad. The good is that people are warned, and they now know that if they're going to turn on that TV program they're going to be alert to watch for error and be more protected, maybe.
The downside is that it so quickly becomes a personal thing rather than a principial thing. And I just want people to get the principles so right that they'll spot them everywhere, you know? Or they'll spot it in me!
You see, I think everybody loves the prosperity gospel. I heard R. C. Sproul say one time—I forget just how he said it—something like, "Everybody believes in the prosperity gospel, and you can tell by the fact that as soon as you take away some benefit they get mad." Their wife dies, they get mad. They lose their job, they get mad. So they really were loving prosperity! They really were loving health! And who doesn't, right?
So I'm guilty a lot. And I want to give principles that will enable people not just to spot some TV preacher, but me. "Piper, you've just departed. You've just fallen in."
I don't know if anybody noticed it, but did you see the tweet that I did about a video clip we put up on our website about the prosperity gospel? I looked at about 5 minutes of it again and said, "Whoa, this is strong."
So I tweeted and I said something like, "Piper goes on and on about the prosperity gospel. Doesn't he know how rich he is?" That was my tweet. Which is what I could imagine an adversary would say. And I just want people to know how fragile and imperfect I feel when it comes to criticizing things like this.
I'm an American. Look at this: this chair probably cost hundreds of dollars. Shirt. Pants. Water in a bottle. This container cost more than the water! Why are we putting it in here? It's a ridiculous waste of money. We're recording here with computers. It cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to set this thing up. What are you complaining about you rich, no-count, western pastor?
I just want to be self-critical as much as I am other-critical.
The name that I want to name in terms of criticism is "John Piper, sinner in need of grace, loving the gospel, wanting to protect the church." I really don't want to go after particular people unless it is absolutely necessary.