Someone posted this comment about my Osteen posts. I have responded below. Become part of the dialogue by clicking on the comments link under the post. I will moderate them before they go out, but as long as they remain respectful and decent, I'll leave them up. I think you'll enjoy this dialogue, and I was afraid it might get buried in other posts. I'm glad to finally have some interaction on this dead site!
Seriously?!?!?! Is Joel Osteen and his preaching such a big issue that we must spend our time cutting his message down with over exaggerated words of disdain? Is there really merit in making these criticisms to begin with? I don't believe so.
Yes, Joel Osteen shares a message of hope, joy, and God's love for us that may seem overly simplistic for the "deep" Christians of today. And yes, I feel that our churches are filled with more motivation rather than God's true proclamation. However, to bash a man who has CLEARLY led thousands (if not more) to Christ is outrageous. If you don't like him, or his style of ministry, then don't watch him. Lord knows there are MILLIONS of authors, preachers, and teachers to choose from. But to belittle a Godly man who's message, while not preferred by you, but who actually ministers to millions worldwide, is completely unnecessary. Can you disagree with him? Absolutely! To seek him out on television and watch for your perception of his "flaws", however, is a little much for me.
Why cut down people who are making a difference in the world for Christ? Why look for things that unnerve or annoy you? While I can't speak for God, I don't believe that He is sitting on his thrown judging the methods of ministers who are leading people to Him. And if He is, I think we should let Him criticize and give His thoughts to Joel once he gets to heaven, as opposed to filling internet blogs with our limited and close minded perceptions of him.
I work with lost, hurting, and damaged people on a daily basis; people looking for a glimmer of hope...people who have never experienced true love or compassion from anyone....people who have little, if any, exposer to Christ and His church. So if someone as "simplistic" and "surface" as Joel Osteen gives them an ounce of understanding on God's amazing grace and love, then I say, good work Joel! There is a place in hearts that are being filled by God's words through Joel....even if it is not your heart. I suggest spending you time watching/reading authors and preachers that you actually like....men and women who minister to you, as opposed to seeking out the ones who fill you with a sense of accomplishment through perceived literary inspiration.
Trevor Williams said...
In response to the last comment, let me first of all say that you should at least leave your name if you want to comment on this blog. I've put my name on here, and my reputation's at stake. I expect the same from you if you want to challenge my words.
Second of all, let me also say that I agree with you, at least on parts of what you said. You say that I shouldn't spend my time cutting down pastors. This is half right. Yes, as I read today in the words of Jesus, I should look at the plank in my own eye before looking at the speck in Osteen's. I should really evaluate why I'm watching these preachers. If it's only to bash them, then I should change the channel immediately and never type a word about them. That's something I have to work on, so please forgive my arrogance on a subject where humility is so desperately needed.
But I won't change my desire to have a dialogue about church leaders and whether their methods are damaging to the church in America. Just the fact that you responded shows that this is an issue that can create dialogue within the body of Christ, dialogue that has the potential to go beneath the surface, somewhere down deep where Osteen doesn't want to go.
You say God doesn't judge methods, but there are numerous times in scripture where God judges the motivation behind an action, or even an emotion as a precursor to an action. And sometimes, righteous actions are negated by the state of mind in which they were done (Lord, Lord, did we not drive out demons? Heal the sick?... Depart from me, I never knew you). You might use Paul's statement, "Some preach for their own personal gain, but just as long as the Gospel is preached...," as justification for your point that the message, not the vessel, is what we should focus on.
But here's the point you missed entirely: Osteen doesn't preach the Gospel. His message is not complete. He's been asked on TV numerous times whether those who don't believe in Jesus will go eternally suffering, and he hasn't made a clear answer. Jesus CHRIST was pretty clear on this point, and I don't know how you can be a CHRISTian pastor, a supposed shepherd, and not be bold enough to defend your Lord's most basic tenets.
You say that Osteen has CLEARLY led thousands to Christ. How is it so clear? Because he's sold so many books? Because he has the largest church in America? Last time I checked, popularity didn't equal faithfulness to God's call or the presence of real, lasting fruit. In fact, the opposite seems to be true in scripture. It seems that the less popular Christians became, the more effective they were in spreading the Gospel. Take the unbridled growth of the early church and today's Chinese church as examples.
Osteen may fill thousands of hearts with hope, but judging by his words, the hope he sells is shallow and circumstantial, not based on the solid rock of Christ's blood. And what's better? To not give people hope, or to give them false hope based on a fantasy God?
You say that Osteen "ministers" to people. That may be true, but what does that mean? Does it mean they like his words because he feeds their desire to rely on themselves? It is messy to get down to the nitty-gritty and confront how despicably sinful we are and how much we need Christ, not to be used as a pick-me-up like we use a Starbucks latte in mid-afternoon, but for a dynamic transformation of character based on HIS STRENGTH, not our own.
I applaud your work with the hurting people in this world. I myself need to stop being so lazy and get out there and do some of that work too. Let's just make sure that the message of hope we preach to them is true grace. Here's what I mean: You said in your comment that if Joel gives people and ounce of God's grace and love, then we should applaud him. (If you'll check my blog posts, you'll see that I didn't belittle his every accomplishment.) But grace is not shown as grace if there is no knowledge of sin. You can't tell someone that God has grace for them if you don't first tell them they're sinful, which is not the most welcome thing to say to someone. The grace comes from the fact that we are SO UNDESERVING, not because we're "a child of the king."
And God's love is NOT in his ability to make our lives run smoothly, or to get people to go out of their way to give us "favor" (as Joel suggests in his first book). The love of Christ is IN THE CROSS. "God showed his love for us in this: That while we were STILL SINNERS, Christ died for us."
From pastors like Joel, we need the whole story. We need them to preach the hope of Christ and the positive things about his love and grace, but we don't need them to do it as salesmen of a false Gospel of happiness and ease, or in a way that makes us rely on ourselves, our ability, our know-how and our desires.
Really the question is: Which Christ is Osteen leading people to? And what is he filling hearts with? Is Osteen's Christ the one of the scriptures? Is the positive, self-reliant message Osteen talks about something that the world (Tony Robbins, maybe?) couldn't offer these people? If I take your advice, I can't watch Osteen anymore to find out. I guess I'll remain unconvinced, because I've still never seen a sermon on sin or even on the cross. Please email me a transcript if you can find one. Thanks so much for engaging my blog.
Join the conversation...