The Source For Having A Positive Outlook On Life

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I have recently spent a couple posts to discuss the fears I have with positive confession theology.  The reason I say I have fears about this type of thinking is because this framework of living almost immediately leads us to a false view of who God is, a false view of who man is, and a false view of what Christ's atonement is.

However, having a positive outlook on life is, most assuredly, a Biblical and godly characteristic.  Christians ought to be hopeful, joyful, and encouraging.  But the primary source of this hope, joy, and encouragement differs dramatically from the source of Joel Osteen's or Jon Gordon's joy, for instance.  (In short, I am not condemning these men or others like them.  I do, however, want to draw attention to their faulty theology and the faulty theology of most - if not all - of those who hold to their teachings.)

Take a look, for example, at two different song lyrics that demonstrate two differing sources of hope, joy, and encouragement.

Difficulty Is Not Natural

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Difficulty, pain, suffering, adversity, obstacles, setbacks - choose your favorite term - none of these are natural, just as death is not natural.  All difficulty is a result of sin.  Thinking that these negative things are a natural part of the created order and neglecting to treat them as a result of God's curse on His creation for sin is a fundamental flaw in "positive confession theology" (otherwise known as "name and claim it" or "health, wealth, and prosperity gospel").  This false gospel angers me more than just about anything else simply because it is not true.  (There are some who would argue that the term "false" is a little too strong; I disagree.  The reason this is false is because it is not true.  Jesus did not die for me to have everything I ever wanted in this life.)

The men I am about to name have a serious worldview crisis: they view this world as the main stage; they talk very little, if ever, about the reality of eternity.

Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, John Maxwell, Danny Gokey, and Jon Gordon are all men I would consider to be positive confession theologians.  They all teach the similar idea that the human potential is limitless; that if we can just tap into our inner-selves with enough positive-thoughts and high-achieving goals we can do anything.  Such maxims as "when you believe, the impossible becomes possible" (Jon Gordon) are popular among these men.

The doctrine these leaders promote sounds so good that it is leading millions around the world into darkness.  How?  Because man is not the center of the universe.  God is.  Man is not even the center of his own life!  God is.  To have our focus so intently on ourselves is to miss the purpose of man's existence entirely.  We are not here for ourselves or even for each other; we ultimately exist for God.

The Problem With Positivity

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One of the most prominent Christian radio stations has a motto that goes like this: "positive and encouraging."  In recent years, I have grown more and more abhorrent of this motto.  The reason is because it is bad theology.  And I hate bad theology.

Looking back over my life, I cringe when I think of some of things I have taught, said, wrote, or believed.  In my quest for a right understanding of God, the Holy Spirit convicts and corrects me as well.  He does so with love and truth.  I say this to show that I am not trying to be arrogant or boastful in my tone; I desire to do the humble work of a servant, serving the Lord Jesus Christ by proclaiming His truth with an attitude of love.

The reason why the positivity movement in Christendom bothers me so much is because it's not a realistic view of the facts of life.  Additionally frustrating is that when one faces challenges in life, the answer given by the gurus of positive-thought is to look inside oneself and develop that inner, human potential for greatness.  All in all, the reason for the Christian's hope rests on something far deeper and more solid than a few catch phrases and good experiences: it rests on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Discipline: God's Grace in Our Depravity

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"For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:11).
In the time that I have been a father, I have benefited from trying to explain complex ideas to my kids.  For instance, explaining to Brielle that she should have a grateful attitude and not a complaining one has helped me improve my attitude as well after giving her the reason as to why we should be grateful: "all things have been made by Him and for Him," and "without Him nothing has been made that has been made."  We receive nothing but that which the Father gives us.  Therefore, we should be grateful always, for "in Him we have our life, our breath, and our very being."  Apart from Him, we have nothing.

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