Four Ways the 'Prosperity Gospel' Twists Christianity
2. Man-Centered, Not God-Centered
The Prosperity Gospel is man-centered and not God-centered. All of the teaching I have read and heard is about satisfying man's low self esteem, or filling my wallet, or healing me of my affliction. But it rarely, if ever, talks about all of life — including suffering — being for the glory of God.
When people in the Bible catch a vision of God, they are almost paralyzed with fear and awe. God is never used as a tool to get what we want. In His holiness He confronts man and tells us what to do. Moses trembles before the Judge of all the earth in Exodus 3. Isaiah in Isaiah 6:1-7 is overwhelmed with the majesty and righteousness of the holy God, and he is convulsed with grief over his own sin. John is constantly overwhelmed by the glorious appearance of Christ throughout Revelation.
These concepts of God's absolute holiness, His sovereign majesty, coupled with our sin (yes, SIN!) are conspicuously absent in the self-esteem manuals and pep talks of the Prosperity Gospel.
Also missing in action is Jesus! I cannot find a reference to the Lord Jesus in Osteen's book The Power of I Am until page 73, and there he briefly mentions salvation in Christ. On page 135 he writes, "I am forgiven, I am redeemed." That's wonderful! But how? Is there any treatment of the great themes of the necessity of the Incarnation, the suffering and vicarious death of Christ and His physical resurrection in order to reconcile sinful man to a holy God?
Osteen keeps telling his readers "you are loved, you are accepted, you are blessed, you are victorious, you are secure" and so on ... without even telling them that this comes only through salvation in Christ! We come to God in repentance (another concept absent from much of Osteen's works) and faith in the sacrifice of the resurrected God-man Jesus Christ.
I understand that there are plenty of beaten down people out there who need lifting up, but the lifting up comes through a right relationship with God only through Christ! At least on page 271, at the very end of the book, Osteen says that if you'd like Jesus to save you, pray this, "Lord Jesus, I repent of my sins, I ask you to come into my heart, I make you my Lord and Savior." Good.
But what are my sins? Negative thoughts? I'm glad he wrote this, but I wish he would have elaborated more on what sin is, what repentance is, and what real faith in Jesus is saving me from.
Next Page: Is physical healing always the will of God?