I’d appreciate a critique in my thinking concerning this.
I see Osteen as a motivational speaker and as such he is a positivie influence. I would personally dislike his church because I need more Christ, but many people are coming to him from no Christ at all. Maybe just this drop of grace to cool the tongue is beneficial to those who have had no peace or proximity to Christ. I suppose I see things as a gradiation. In my personal growth in faith, I have moved around to different churches to find more of Christ. My current movement toward the catholic church is because that is where I can find Christ in the fullest. I think that the unchurched secular culture we live in right now is a very low step and people who go into - say the morman church from it are making a step up. People who go into Joel Osteens church are also taking a step up. My hope though, is that they will continue from here. You can’t live off the stuff he is saying, but maybe the taste will incite their hearts to seek more of Christ and perhaps search for the fullness of Christ in His Church.
I very much agree with you. You know, the Bible says that His word will not return void.
And although JO doesn’t preach/teach the whole truth, he does teach some aspects of truth, mixed in with motivational stuff/fluff. And when he uses God’s word, it is enough to produce a yearning or longing in some people who are looking for God, who in turn, is always looking for them. God will always use even the bits and pieces of Truth that are floating around out there to draw all people to Himself.
I heard a teaching years ago, from another unlikely source, but it was true nonetheless. God gives everyone some light. If they respond to that light, He will give them more. And we will be judged according to the light we are given and how we responded to it. To whom much is given, much will be required.
I say this because my journey has been long and winding. And God has always been wooing me. And He used sometimes the most unlikely people with the most unlikely teachings. But the kernels of truth are what had me hungering for more.
And praise God he never stopped wooing, I never stopped searching for more, and now I’m where I know I can trust what I’m being taught, as long as I stay close to the Magisterium.
I understand your line of reasoning here. My concern, though, is that Osteen’s “theology” (which indeed contains little actual religion, as has been pointed out) is just the type that proves to be “sticky” to those who would like to feel “saved” but not give up the world in the process. It draws like a high-powered magnet those who have abandoned themselves to greed and materialism, because it provides a salve to their conscience – nay, even a boost! The folks I have known who were caught up in Prosperity Doctrine never made it out. They found it way too cozy for them ever to look for anything deeper. It fit their worldview and required no real change in their hearts and actions. In fact, it made them proud to be the way they always had been: selfish, materialistic, carnal.
I’m afraid Osteen and his ilk are too much of a stumbling block to function as a stepping stone.
What you say may be true for some, but maybe it has more to do with the heart of the person to begin with?
In other words, if the person’s only intent is to find something to make him/herself feel better, this is what they will be drawn to and probably stay with, or something or someone similar.
If, on the other hand, the person’s intent, or heart is longing for God, and what they hear sparks their interest, if their heart is really searching, God will find them and move them along.
I only say this because I was there and now am here. And I know so many others who have shared this journey in a like manner. The only explanation has to be the intent of the heart, whether accepting or rejecting whatever truths God reveals as the journey progresses.
You make a good point. Certainly, in any search for Truth, the seeker gets out what he is willing to “put into” it. And a true seeker will not stop at the lower levels but will continue to press on toward the mark, as Paul put it.
Here is the particular difference about Osteen, though, and the reason I say he is not a stepping stone in the way that most Protestant churches and pastors would be: Joel Osteen is not merely preaching a different doctrine or incomplete truth … he is teaching vice. If you read his material, beneath all the feel-good, motivational currents you will find a strong undercurrent of Greed. And when people take Prosperity Doctrine to its logical conclusion, they often arrive at a lower form of Idolatry. These are serious vices that are accompanied, as is any vice, by death of conscience, numbness to truth, and temporal and eternal consequences.
Now, I know here in the USA materialism is elevated to the level of a virtue by the secular pop culture, and even the faithful among us tend to regard it with less scorn than we do most other evils. But suppose for a moment Joel Osteen were leading this herd of lemmings into a different vice – say, alcoholism, or gambling, or cheating on their spouses. Would it be so easy for us to write him off as a flake or consider him “better than no Christianity at all” if he were encouraging people to disregard the sixth commandment? Or telling them that’s what God had in mind all along? Granted, there are degrees of sin, but ultimately it remains a tool of Satan for separating us from God. And it works.
So I have to cringe when I think about the thousands of souls who have, perhaps in innocence, gotten sucked into practicing evil by a “man of God” and in His holy name. It would be one thing if his doctrine were merely fallacious, but I’m afraid it goes beyond wrong: it’s dangerous.
Does this make sense? Does anyone think I’m overreacting?
No, I don’t think you are overreacting at all, I do think that ultimately we have to trust God, that he is able to draw to Himself those who want Him and not just what they think they can get out of Him.
And I don’t think we should turn the other way when we see and hear these false doctrines, we should point out their errors and strongly warn against them.
I do hesitate when some seem to make the attacks personal, because for all it’s worth, I honestly don’t think JO intends to mislead, but that he is the blind leading the blind and he needs to be saved from that which he teaches.
(I have to worry about the splinter in my own eye way more often than I care to admit. )
Now, I know here in the USA materialism is elevated to the level of a virtue by the secular pop culture, and even the faithful among us tend to regard it with less scorn than we do most other evils. But suppose for a moment Joel Osteen were leading this herd of lemmings into a different vice – say, alcoholism, or gambling, or cheating on their spouses. Would it be so easy for us to write him off as a flake or consider him “better than no Christianity at all” if he were encouraging people to disregard the sixth commandment? Or telling them that’s what God had in mind all along? Granted, there are degrees of sin, but ultimately it remains a tool of Satan for separating us from God. And it works
You make an interesting point. I suppose my thinking was that people in a bad position look around for help and the first thing that catches them is this mega church. They reach out to it and are fed a little and move on. But there is probably a really large group of people who like money, want more money and want a church that tells them how to get more money. And if these people are leaving other protestant churches or the catholic or orthodox church for this, it is a travesty.
I don’t know much about JO except for some clips, but he strikes me as less dislikable than some of the other prosperity teachers (went to some of those churches in my own journey for some time.) He seems to angle his Prosperity theology in more practical rather than spiritual ways which makes him more like a motivational speaker. (Some of the church leaders I encountered espoused speaking to your wallett to tell it to be abundant!) Whereas he seems to advocate practical advice. So is the danger in his teaching or is it in his calling himself a church?
-Regarding the 60 minutes clip, I thought the worst part was the wife saying she hoped more churches would look like theirs soon. :signofcross: Saint Michael protect us!
That said, the one useful nugget that we may take from his work is that hope is a powerful motivator. Too often, we dwell on the darker aspects of faith—the corruption of sin, the potential for eternal damnation. Unlike Osteen, we should not ignore these, but we ought reflect more that the Gospel is the good news.
Yes, I think the great danger lies in his beliving himself to be a man of God, a preacher, a herald of the Gospel, and then associating his philosophy with the person and message of Jesus Christ. Granted, he’s not as extreme as Benny Hinn, Jesse Duplantis, or some of the other notable outright charlatans, but I think that is oddly enough likely to make him more dangerous than the others. Lots of people who won’t go in for the hype of the Benny Hinn type – because it’s so outrageous – will get sucked into the more subtle “feel good” message of Osteen.
The only ones who prosper from the “prosperity Gospel” are the “preachers” and I use that term loosely.
It is a despicable and dangerous Gospel. Christ offered suffering, carrying His Cross, rejection, humiliation, possibly death for His names sake. He never offered a rose garden at least not in this life.
I can only imagine how depressing it must be for someone who believes this Gospel to be mired in financial crisis while the preacher tells them it’s because they lack faith or favor with God.
Of all the “fads” this one has to be the worst, it suckers the same people who fall victim to amway scams or pyramid scams, ponzy schemes etc…
I live in a modest three bedroom home built in 1916 in a working class area that I toiled night and day to get and still do to make the mortgage. We share one care, I haven’t bought anything new for myself in years and I’m thankful as all get out for my old, drafty money pit house and my Honda that is still running… I have no desire to drive a Mercedes or have vacation homes all over the place. I couldn’t imagine asking God to make me materially wealthy. I find it difficult asking for basic things considering how many times I’ve turned my back on Him.
And also consider the atrocity of a “gospel” which tells us that God does not wish for us to suffer, that suffering is only from the devil, and that if we are truly holy we will never have any suffering or affliction in our lives!!!
Gee, I guess the Saints and Martyrs could have learned a thing or two from these guys.
Interestingly enough, just after I finished posting last night, Ipicked up where I left off in the book I was reading and found this…
“By the way, did you ever meet or hear of anyone who was converted from scepticism to a ‘liberal’ or ‘demythologised’ Chritianity? I think that when the unbelievers come in at all they come in a good deal further.
Not of course that either group is to be judged by its success, as if the question were one of tactics. The liberals are honest men and preach their version of christianity, as we preach ours, because they beleive it to be true. A man who first tried to guess’what the public wants,’ and then preached that as Chrisitianity because the public wants it, would be a pretty mixture of fool and knave.”
This almost prophetic quote came from C.S. Lewis’ Letters to Malcolm. I like it when God Himself critiques me.
I like him and feel that his works are inspired. He emphasizes constantly in his book to ALWAYS give to others and to try to always be as helpful as we can be to others. He states that if we have negative attitudes that we will never get anything done. He states to have faith that God will bring us through our bad times. I don’t see anything incorrect with that outlook.
I don’t think the issue is exactly one of truth versus falsehood; but rather one of full truth versus half-truth. Of course, he wouldn’t get very far even as a motivational speaker if he said things like - be mean to others, hope for the worst and only be negative. It is only common sense basic goodness that Olsteen preaches, but how is it inspired? I think it is God-given in the sense that it is innate reason that tells us about right and wrong, but this is the natural law, not revelation. Revelation goes further and tells us to not only hope for the best but to do so even when your being cooked alive. It tells us that we should always do good to our neighbors even when they are crucifying us. It tells us about God and our own nature in ways that reason wouldn’t be able to reach on its own.
My love of the Catholic church is that it takes small things and makes them big things. The smallest, most humble handmaid of God becomes the Queen of Heaven. But Olsteen does the opposite, he takes the big things of God, and makes them trivial. The example I am aware of is his use of the verse that states that “the same power which raised Christ from the dead is in you”; therefore he says, you can get that job you want. I don’t think that is totally untrue, just short-sighted and trivial.