From the current Vanity Fair interview with Joel Osteen, the mega-pastor of America's largest church:“Have you ever sinned?”One's anthropology, theologically speaking, is one's doctrine of man. (See the Mockingbird-approved definition here.) The concept covers lots of territory. But the key question here is, in relation to God, what is a human being capable of? Is a human being able to please God? Osteen's response indicates a pretty robust sense of his own abilities towards righteousness (i.e., a high anthropology), and a shockingly lightweight view of sin. It appears that to him, sin is simply bad things we do, and thus can simply stop doing. The fact that anyone could be acquainted with the Bible (Romans 3, anyone?), and a pastor to boot, and still think of himself as "squeaky clean" is stunning. Because if one can be squeaky clean, what need does one have for (as the old hymn goes) a fountain fill'd with blood?
“Oh, sure,” [Osteen] answered surprisingly. “I’m sure I have. I mean, I think we’ve all sinned, so I can’t say that I’ve never … ” He looked suddenly bashful. “I’ve never done anything you’d call ‘terrible.’ I haven’t done drugs. Victoria’s the only girl I’ve ever dated.” Victoria, his glamorous wife of 22 years, is also a pastor. “I’m probably squeaky clean—I don’t have to say it,” Mr. Osteen added.
Jesus never said, "Be squeaky clean." Rather, he said, "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." And that's why I'm so glad for Good Friday.
I am reminded of a story I once heard about a pastor who knelt at the altar at the end of a revival service and was asked by the guest preacher what it was that was troubling his soul. "Nothing big," the pastor said. "Just a whole lot of little things."