Friday, October 12, 2007

Joel Osteen and the Prosperity Gospel

Joel Osteen is huge. He has one of the biggest churches in the U.S., and he has been voted as the most influential Christian in America. I think he's popular because he always preaches a positive message; he aims to give hope to those who are downtrodden. But the hope that he offers is false, and the most upsetting thing is that it is down right against what the Scripture teaches. In the clip below, watch a clip of Joel Osteen and Mark Driscoll's critique.

Osteen says that having victory/freedom in Christ means that we should have victory in all spheres of our life: relationships, finances, anxiety and health. If we truly have faith, we can defeat bad relationships, poverty and even chronic illness. Jesus will give us these things if we have faith in him.

The problem is that this makes Christianity no different from what our culture offers us: happiness is found in money and comfort. Driscoll points out that Jesus himself does not qualify as a "champion" as defined by Osteen because he was hated so much by people that they killed him (relationships), was born in a manger and was homeless (poverty), and was tortured and nailed on a cross (physical health). I would add that Paul and all of Jesus' disciples except for John (who was exhiled because of his faith) were also put to death for their faith in Jesus. And I wonder how Osteen would explain James 1:2-3: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." Christianity gives us hope, yes. But a hope that we can have beyond what comfort, health, and money can give us.


Anonymous said...

I always had a thing against Joel for preaching this thing that was "think positive." After hearing 3 of his sermons, I swear his main point was "think positive" for each one. And when everytime I skipped past the channel of him preaching, I'd hear "You can't focus on the negative, but think positive." Something just wasn't right because he wasn't telling the world about the not so warm and fuzzy side of life that comes with Christianity.

Hmm ... I've never seen Joel preach about health and wealth and all that so directly. Weird.
Oh this is Jon btw :).

kq said...

**Disclaimer: I haven't watched the whole YouTube video yet. So after watching it, my opinion might change.**
I've been watching Joel Osteen on Sunday mornings lately. I agree that his main point each week seems to be thinking positively. But I don't think he's saying that by thinking positively, nothing bad will happen to you. His message is more about not getting in a rut, not feeling defeated, not letting yourself lose hope. Not letting the trials and testing of your faith get the better of you. But to have the faith that you can overcome those trials and embrace the blessings that God wants to give you.