Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Your Neighbor's Best Life Now

A conversation at between three professors at Luther Seminary begins something like this:

Karoline Lewis: "Who can go wrong with the Ten Commandments?"

David Lose: "Oh, my goodness! Did you ever see the movie Vision Quest? ...Matthew Modine plays a young wrestler who picks up Tai Chi and says to this kind of hard-boiled cook that he's working with, 'People do it in China. Can a billion people ever be wrong?' And the guy looks at him and says 'Frequently.' What I actually have in mind is this: Can people ever go wrong with the Ten Commandments? People do all the time! "

Ralph Jacobson: "The major way people people go wrong with the Ten Commandments is when they try to turn it into self-help religion. The basic distinction between law and gospel is essential here... All the adults should know the two uses of the law. God gives us the law 'civil-ly' that is, for our neighbor, and God gives the law theologically, that is, to remind us we are sinners... There is no use of the law to get to heaven! ...What the sinner always does it to turn God's Law into a personal improvement project. ...When I write my book on the Ten Commandments at least one chapter is going to be called Your Neighbor's Best Life Now. The reason God gives us the commandments is so our neighbor can have his and her best life now."

I have not read Joel Olsteen's book Your Best Life Now. If you have, let me know. Rolf Jacobsen, one of the professors above, who I respect, calls it a "really bad book" because, Rolf seems to think it's about having each individual person have their own personal best life without regard for the neighbor in need.

If you've read Olsteen's book, and if you have a different impression, let me know! Thanks!


  1. I am almost done with the book Your Best Life Now. Olsteen talks about the importance of healthy loving relationships with others, except he says be careful for energy suckers who never will change and then suck the joy out of you?? Many chapters talk about life struggles and how to re-direct your attention to God and give your burdens to him. Reminds me alot of our wonderful members who have shared personal stories during Lent services. I like the book. He relates his comments to scripture.

  2. Thank you so much! I think I need to read the book. If you live locally, maybe you'll loan it to me...? or maybe I can get it up at The Grounds....