Apparently Joel Osteen has just released a new book and the parts of the church and blogosphere are up in arms.(Thanks to Jesse over at Resurgence for making me aware.) To be frank, I don't care that much about Mr. Osteen apart from hoping he meets God one day and experiences the amazing grace that is available through Jesus' finished work on the cross. I say that assuming from watching him on T.V that he doesn't understand the gospel, because if he does why is he keeping it a secret from his huge audience?
But my problem with his teaching would basically be that he doesn't teach God's Word but picks and chooses nice sounding principles to apply and use as needed to improve your life. It's giving people candied law, sweet and tasty on the outside, but death and hopelessness on the inside. We can't change by following certain principles whether they come from the Bible or the Quran or the Book of Mormon. And yes, I agree with his many critics that his teaching is self-centered; man centered.
That's why I'm so surprised that so many think the answer to the problem is to talk about sin more! I agree that if you try to ignore the fact that sin is real, that the entire human race is born into the slavery of sin and death and destined for hell apart from God's saving intervention, then you are in trouble. Apart from this understanding you can't be saved because you don't know you need to be saved. We clearly must teach the law to unbelievers so they will see their sin so that the Holy Spirit can come in and convict them of their sin and draw them to Jesus. But this just doesn't apply to believers. To continually focus on sin is to continually focus our attention on entirely the wrong thing. We are to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). We are not to live with a consciousness of sin (though we should acknowledge when we do sin and move on in grace) but an ever growing awareness of God's grace. In fact, the more we experience God in is his glory the more we are changed and the less we think about our sin--we're too busy basking in his wonderful presence, adoring him.
So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that those who preach sin, sin, sin, and a little God on the side are generally man-centered as well. It goes without saying that if your eyes are on sin, they aren't on Jesus...