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Klavan On The Culture

What’s Wrong With Joel Osteen?

October 11th, 2013 - 1:12 pm

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But at the same time, bad things do happen to good people and life is unfair and it’s important to include that in your philosophy lest you end up blaming the victims — or God — for the evils of this fallen world. For a few years after I first saw Osteen, I followed him, read his books and listened to his sermons sometimes…  then I stopped. I don’t mean this in any way personally. I have no reason to think he’s other than a good guy spreading the Word as it comes to him. But I personally began to find his philosophy…  well, unhelpful.

The preacher in my novel True Crime comments that if you want to have faith, you have to believe in a “God of the sad world.” I think that’s clearly true. For me, one of Christianity’s central assets is that it’s a tragic religion — which is to say, a realistic one. The son of God prayed for release from a dreadful death and his prayer went unfulfilled. That tells you something, something you need to know in order to live with patience and wisdom. It’s not that God is absent, it’s that (as Job discovered) the moral context of life is larger than mortal man can comprehend. Which can make things very, very difficult at times. Tragedy is what we know; redemption is what we believe; that’s why they call it faith instead of knowledge.

I appreciate Osteen’s good will. I enjoy his warmth and spirit. I really like the visceral way he convey’s God’s love. But in the end, if you don’t have a sense of evil and unfairness, I don’t think you can preach truly.

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You write you feared your conversion would limit your freedom of thought. Very simply, if you serve Him, He can show you things. He also designed you - everything you are. Who better to listen to, than the One who designed you?

You write you feared your conversion would betray your Jewish heritage. Jews believe a Messiah will be sent to them. By converting, you say He was already sent. You betray nothing. All the scriptures on how the Messiah would be sent you believe have been fulfilled. That doesn’t mean you say those scriptures are wrong. You remain one of His chosen people, to whom He made promises which He did not make to everyone else. You were not just designed by Him, you were also created in part to honor Abraham. Cherish that you are descended from one He chose and loved. You exist in part as proof a man He chose obeyed Him. You do not betray your heritage.

You write Joel Osteen preaches people should open themselves to God’s will to receive blessings. Thank you for deeming it unhelpful. Another wonderful insight on your part. What a way to sum up his ministry. The fact is, the more you are willing to serve Him, the more likely you will be persecuted. Why? Because Satan, and the angels who revolted when he did (demons), will be threatened by you. If I serve Him, am I blessed for it? No. I am hated, scorned, shunned, despised, called mental, and most of all opposed. His will is hated. If you obey a God whose will is hated because Satan hates it, you will likely be persecuted to stop you.

If I serve Him, if I obey His commands, why do I do it? It has nothing to do with personal gain. It is because I fear Him. I fear Him more than what He allows Satan to do to me.

I post here because I have been posting on Janine Turner’s columns. Her staff has blocked me since October, 2011 from having her support our soldiers in this War. He has heard their prayers and wants to intervene for them. Her staff forbids this. They block my posts to her website. So I post here where they cannot stop me. She apparently does not read them here. So now I try you. Hopefully you want enable to Americans to finally support our soldiers in this War. The others I beg per prayer fear to do so.

It is a simple thing – He hears prayers by and for the soldiers and wants to intervene for them. But His intervention is horribly opposed.

The question is not what can I do so God will bless me before I die or Jesus returns. It is what does your King command you do this day for Him, and will you obey Him. Even if it means facing all He permits Satan and his angels and followers to throw at you to stop you. All done because you fear Him more than you fear Satan.

I add this hope if you read this. If someone obeys Him, and if the opposition is overcome, then He can move in a mighty way. If I serve Him, I don’t live expecting to be persecuted to my death. It ends if just one or more people help me complete the opposed task He gave me. Because then the opposition crumbles. So I will post to your columns after praying to clear them, and hope you will be the one who finally says He should be allowed to help our soldiers. I will hope you see I am posting.

If prayer says post this, I will.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not that I disagree with what you are saying in general, but with some of the details. You have to be careful taking from Job or Ecclesiastes at face value. Most of Job is what his friends say, to one of whom God finally says "My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of Me the thing that is right.." Ecclesiastes is from the point of view of a man out of fellowship with God.
Jesus didn't pray to be released from death, He was consecrating Himself to God's will, "if this can pass, but nevertheless, your will" (paraphrase) and "Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?" and "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again." and "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
The sun and rain are good things, not bad things. They supply life essentials.
The treasure in the Osteen family is Joel's dad, John Osteen. Now there's some good preaching. I highly recommend also Guy Duininck and Bill Johnson.
A lot of bad things happen because Satan is the God of this world, the prince of the power of the air. But if your liver is dead because you drank too much whiskey, it's neither God's nor Satan's fault.
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
I worry that the desire to be nice about and to so nice as guy as Joel Osteen can keep us from saying very clearly that not only does not 'preach truly', as Mr. Klavan points out, but he doesn't preach 'the Word'; neglecting the Gospel, misrepresenting God in both His character and will is serious business, and dangerous business, in the sense that folk who become disillusioned by the Prosperity Gospel will likely leave this 'church', never to turn to the true Gospel. It's not good enough to be a 'good guy' when you stand behind the pulpit, especially in front of so large an audience as he has, and his philosophy is more than 'unhelpful'. It's a different Gospel entirely, and we know what Paul has to say about those in Galatians and 1 Corinthians, among others of his letters.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rapper Shai Linn's video, Fal$e Teachers, describes this "sowing a seed" business as a pyramid scheme -- treating Jesus like a lottery ticket. The so-called "prosperity gospel" can be predatory and worse, the false theology -- that God wants you to be happy, healthy, and rich -- is cruel to those who get false hope from it. Think about how silly that message would sound to a Christian about to be beheaded in Iran.

http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/08/11/fale-teacher-christian-rapper-shames-prosperity-preachers/
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I completely understand and agree with your process and conclusions, Mr. K. I actually have as much of a soft spot for the hopefully positive Pentacostals (Osteen's heritage) as for the Anglicans (and everyone else to one degree or another). As my college adviser, the marvelous Dr. Arthur Holmes, used to say, "All truth is God's truth;" and I believe that we can be variously compelled by the Spirit without merely being fickle and remaining utterly orthodox.
Like you, I believe that a balanced understanding and praxis of the faith must account for not only the promises you quote, but also the mysterious working through suffering that is clearly evidenced in the scriptures and life itself. I could go on and on about this, but for now, thank you for bringing your characteristic thoughtfulness to bear and for your graciousness regarding Mr. Osteen.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Drew, the charismatics used to speak of the "full gospel", and although making room for the tragic side of life in one's theology wasn't what they were talking about (quite the contrary, in fact), I think it expresses well what you mean.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
I like your article. However, if we believe Holy Scripture, it tells us that no one is good or seeks after God on their own volition. So, then, bad things don't happen to good people. That only happened once in human history, and He volunteered. Indeed, a lot of suffering in this world, yet, a lot of overcoming of suffering as well. We have everything to be grateful for that Christ did not have his human prayer answered -- though, He was determined to offer his life -- as we would be a human race forever damned by suffering.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Andrew, Osteen? Seriously? Dude.

John MacArthur is probably the leading Bible-Ancient-Languages-Ancient-Cultures scholar in the world. http://www.gty.org/ His study Bible is essential.

RC Sproul Senior is one of the smartest guys alive http://www.ligonier.org/ He even has Alice Cooper's attention.

John Greer delivers that down-home preaching (if you're Northern Irish) http://www.ballymenafpc.org/

John Piper is another super-smart guy http://www.desiringgod.org/

Yeah, Osteen seems like a nice guy. The other four are men of backbone with razor-sharp minds.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
A deity that allowed its creations to suffer as much as life on this planet does, is criminally negligent at best and a nihilistic sadist at worst.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
And also seems to be the assumption that nothing is more important either to God or to human existence than our happiness of contentment.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
As He gave us Free Will, He gave us the opportunity to violate His Laws (as we did in The Garden.) Blaming Him for our transgressions seems irresponsible at best.

Further, you seem to assume that this world is the one for which He created us. There is no basis for that assumption.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wrong.

Email me. We'll talk.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
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