Friday, November 16, 2007
When I was younger, I remember my Dad walking in one day with a huge carrying case full of tapes. I wondered what on earth was going on. We didn't exactly have "many" of Sproul's or MacArthur's tapes laying around the house. It was mostly my rock and rap tapes or my Mom's Singing Machine tapes so I wondered what he could have brought. He told me, and even at that young age I knew something wasn't right. It was a Dale Carnegie course on "how to win friends and influence people". Sheesh.
There are certain things that a Christian must believe to be true or they are not a Christian regardless of what they profess to be. One is that whatever Jesus said, is truth because He is God manifest in the flesh. One thing Jesus declared is that "no man can serve two masters. He will either hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to one and despise the other." (Matt 5) Does God really want us taking lessons in self-esteem and boosting other people's pride? The Bible declares God's will to be the contrary.
In this post, I want to compare the two methods of converting people to a cause and find out if, in the end, two people can be converted to the same cause using methods that are antithetical. Here I will compare the Apostle of God, Peter and the guru of the self-esteem movement, Dale Carnegie. Both claim to do what is "good and right", but Peter's standard is the objective standard of God and Carnegie's is the subjective opinion of man. The reason I post this is because there are certain "evangelicals" in the land that feel they can help people "make a decision for Christ" using the same basic means employed by Carnegie and now Osteen and the sort.
Here is an example of how Peter the Apostle of God coerced people to the cause of Christ:
"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know-- this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, "'I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.' "Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, "'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.' Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself."
What happened here? Peter declared their sin! He didn't try to boost their self-esteem/pride! They were pricked to their heart about what he said, but what was the result? "BROTHERS, what shall we do?" Note that they were cut to the heart to the point where instead of being swelled with pride, they were humbly asking Peter what they should do, and what was the result? "So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." (Act 2:41-42) Did Peter throw a steak party? Did he have a festival dance? Did he say, "You know what, God loves you just the way you are." No. Peter declared they are sinners and the result is that those who were ordained to believe, believed because Peter loved them enough to tell them the truth instead of look for something from them for himself.
Let's see how Dale Carnegie would have suggested to handle the situation:
"John Wannamaker, founder of the stores that bear his name, once confessed: "I learned thirty years ago that it is foolish to scold. I have enough trouble overcoming my own limitations without fretting over the fact that God has not seen fit to distribute evenly the gift of intelligence."
Wannamaker learned this lesson early, but I personally had to blunder through this old world for a third of a century before it even began to dawn upon me that ninety-nine times out of a hundred, people don't criticize themselves for anything, no matter how wrong it may be.
Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person's precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment."
There are a few things I want to point out here:
1) Wannamaker was a businessman, he was not serving God, but rather his business. From what he has said about "overcoming my own limitations" one can conclude that he didn't see a reason for Christ's death "overcomes our limitations" and his patronage to the Masonic lodge in it's is probably a good indication as to why this is so. The main point I want to stress, though, is that he was a businessman speaking from a businessman's point of view, not especially concerned about things outside of his business. He was more concerned that his business ran smoothly rather than risk someone being offended and maybe losing productivity. It's the only logical reason someone would make such a statement. It certainly isn't a divinely inspired one.
2) Carnegie concluded that "people don't criticize themselves for anything, no matter how wrong they may be" which may hold true, but isn't that precisely why someone should have the law preached to them so they can have "knowledge of sin since by law is the knowledge of sin?" (Rom. 3:20) Now I submit that a person that is more concerned about the productivity of their business than truth is going to be pragmatic no matter what the cost to make sure "ends meet". They will even define what those ends are outside of an objective source as long as the bottom line is reached.
3) Carnegie says what may be the most telling statement of all: "Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person's precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment." Does not the law "criticize" a person and put them on the defensive and make them try to justify themselves?
"It wounds a person's pride." When Peter was preaching to the proud people who murdered Jesus Christ, he had no problem hurting their pride. It makes sense why "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogance,"(Pro 8:13a) Does someone who is trying to please the Lord want to stir evil in men's hearts? God forbid.
"hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment" Why do you think Jesus Christ was crucified? Do you think it was because he was tickling the prideful Pharisees' ears? Was it because he wanted them to have "their best life now?" Or was it was because he couldn't compromise truth and still be God? "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like unto whitewashed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity." - Jesus Christ (Mat 23:27-28)
I want to conclude by saying this: As Paul Washer says, "There are a bunch of little boys running around" telling anyone anything they want to hear so they can have their business prevail, not the kingdom of God. "If the bottom line stays on course, the rest is only a hindrance to it." Use sound judgment when deciding on what church you go to. Ask yourself this: Is the "Pastor's" bottom line his business, or is it the true God and His will? Paul states emphatically in the majority of his epistles, "Paul not chosen of men neither by men, but God." There is a reason for that as there is with all Scripture. There are faithful ministers that are preaching God's Word regardless because God in His grace has shown them that truth is not determined by popularity polls. Use sound judgment.