To The Editor:
Joel Osteen and his wife are heretics. That’s why America loves them. A
pastor should be, in some ways, distinguishable from Tony Robbins or Oprah.
And, God forbid a house of Christian worship be arranged in such a way as to
make it clear that we are specifically worshipping Jesus Christ and not the
smiley fellow on stage giving the vaguely spiritual pep talk.
Recently, Mrs. Osteen implored people to “realize that when we obey God,
we’re not doing it for God. we’re doing it for ourselves.” As her proud
husband nods approvingly, Osteen continues. “Do good for your own self. Do
it because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you
worship Him, you’re not doing it for God, really – you’re doing it for
yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”
This is obviously an indefensible teaching. “Do good for your own self.” A
definitive, complete, profoundly disordered statement. Rooted in the
Idolatry of Self, it betrays a pagan attitude which positions the Self as
the Ultimate Good, the Final Purpose. All things – even God Himself – must
revolve around the great and powerful Me. In the Osteens’ version of things,
God exists to serve us, just as we exist to serve ourselves. You act
virtuously for your own sake, because it brings you happiness.
Osteen says that if you want to be rich you have to go beyond pure belief;
you have to speak it into existence. From his book “Your Best Life Now” we
read, “If you want success, if you want wisdom, if you want to be prosperous
and healthy, you’re going to have to do more than meditate and believe; you
must boldly declare words of faith and victory over yourself and your
family.” God will make you prosperous if only you “declare words of
victory.” Name it! Claim it! (I call it, “Blab it! Grab it!”)
But nonsense is all that’s left when Christ is taken out of
Christianity–where is a Cross at the basketball arena church?; when we
preach a Word that doesn’t include words like Christ (the Osteens have a
strict “don’t talk about Jesus” preaching policy), sin, and duty, and
obedience; when we adopt a Gospel that has no redemption, no forgiveness, no
mercy, no justice; when we minimize prayer and virtue and truth; when we
forget that ours is a faith for warriors and martyrs; when we pretend that
Christ didn’t promise us suffering and persecution in this life; when we
substitute true joy for mere happy-happy-happiness; when we treat the Bible
like a theological box of Legos that can be deconstructed and reassembled
into anything we want it to be. Ultimately, the Greatest Thing in the
universe is turned into something as worthless, interchangeable, and
disposable as an inspirational Facebook meme.
Lady Osteen didn’t say anything terribly new or shocking. She only gave
voice to the kind of mentality that has long since infected every strand of
American Christendom through the so-called emerging church.” Walk among
Christians of any denomination and you will hear casual heresies very much
in line with what the Lady Osteen was attempting to communicate. “My faith
is all about making me happy and comfortable.”
He distorts Scripture and offers up a hollow, empty message, but he is
adored because he does it with a smile, he doesn’t offend, and he gives off
the general vibe of a man who probably chuckles at Family Circus cartoons.
In other words, he is exactly what our society believes a Christian should
be: nice, non-threatening, non-Biblical, and superficial.
It isn’t always sweet and cuddly, and it won’t “Make every day Friday”
(whatever that means), but it will bring us finally to the Promised Land.
And we’ll get there if we focus always on Christ – not ourselves. Someone
needs to explain this to the Osteens.
Pastor Terry K. Hagedorn
Calvary Baptist Church
PO Box 282 Reedsville, WV
MOUNTAIN MANNA, 96.7 FM, Sundays 9:30am
“Pointing Mountaineers to Mount Calvary.”