Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Joel Osteentatious

I was flipping through the channels yesterday and happened across Joel Osteen giving a sermon, so I watched for a bit. Though I admittedly didn't watch the entire sermon, I noticed that he didn't mention Jesus. He mentioned God a lot. But his message was very simply one of karma (what goes around, comes around - ala 'My Name is Earl'). This is not really a Christian principle, per se; it is a distorted view of the law. And though karma may resemble God's law, it certainly is not the Gospel; and a preacher who professes to be a Christian, yet doesn't preach the Gospel, is not doing the job God called and ordained him to do. Don't be fooled - Mr Osteen's message is distorted Christianity. It's self-help 101 with a little karma and the golden rule thrown in for good measure. I have no doubt that he is a wonderful father, husband, and friend. However, he's missing the mark as a pastor. Mr Osteen is a peddler of works-righteousness, the false doctrine that asserts we must be good people to get into heaven, or at the very least, that we are only blessed by God if we do good works (however, see Isaiah 64:6 for the truth regarding how God views our "good" works - they are referred to as "filthy rags"). So why is Mr Osteen's "ministry" so lucrative, you may wonder? Isn't that evidence of God's blessing, you argue? Not necessarily. It could simply be evidence of the world's "blessing", and not God's. And what the world "blesses" is the exact opposite of what God blesses. Consider how the world treated Christ, who was unquestionably blessed by God and preached God's message in truth and purity. Yet He was treated as cruelly as possible - tortured in a way that today we wouldn't consider inflicting even on our worst enemies. Compare the world's treatment of Christ to how the world uplifts preachers like Joel Osteen. Which one is the one blessed by God? Christ who was flogged and crucified for our sin and raised to sit at the very right hand of God with the world as His footstool, or Joel Osteen who preaches motivational speeches and is showered in wealth and fame that have meaning only in this world? And what about Job - one of the most faithful and righteous people in the entire Bible. And what happened to him? God handed him over to Satan to be tested with all manner of curses; including a leprosy-like skin disease, and the loss of fortune, friends, and the respect of his wife. I think these examples very clearly show that God's way of blessing is not what we would call "blessing". So, Mr Osteen's abundance is very likely evidence of the world's favor, and not necessarily God's. Furthermore, the word "bless" actually comes from a word meaning to "mark with blood". Mr Osteen frequently says "this is how God blesses us" followed by various examples of people (sometimes Biblical characters) gaining money, friends, respect, etc. However, the way God really blesses us is by marking us with blood - the blood of Christ - not necessarily heaping health, wealth, prosperity, or popularity on us. True, He can (and certainly there is evidence that He does) give people such things, but He "blesses" through blood and agony. If that isn't the case, then we can't see Christ as being a blessing to us from God.

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