Saturday, February 9, 2008

Joel Osteen

I would say that this guy is everything that's wrong in Christianity. However, I don't think what he does has much to do with Christ. You may have seen this on 60 Minutes last October. It recently came to my attention again, and this man makes my stomach turn. It's a long video, but fascinating. My "highlights" follow:

The biggest problem with what he says is he doesn't say much at all! What he does say are his words alone--he rarely remembers to claim that his "message" is scripture-based. Just count the number of times he says "my message."

I've pulled some quotes from this companion article.

There are no crosses, no religious symbols whatsoever.

Because it's not a church.

"My message is a message of hope that God is a good God, and that no matter what we’ve done, where we’ve been, God has a great plan for our lives. And when we walk in his ways they can take us places we’ve never dreamed of," Osteen explains.

Translation: My message is full of key words that people want to hear and read, that appeal to the lowest common denominator of intelligence and faith. It sounds vaguely scriptural, but I haven't read the bible and neither have my audience, so I'm free to make stuff up in the best interest of my book sales. See? I've walked "in his ways" and now I make many millions of dollars per year! You could do that too, but you probably won't be as successful as me.

"I mean is that being a pastor or is that being Dr. Phil or Oprah?" Pitts asks.

I love love love some of the interviewer's questions. I think he sees right through the fluff and hopes to catch Osteen admitting "his message" has pretty much nothing to do with religion. Osteen replies that (he THINKS) sometimes what Dr. Phil says comes right out of the bible. Um, what? So you are just like Dr. Phil? "I think we use God's word." You THINK?? If you're my pastor, you should know. *shudder*

"'To become a better you, you must be positive towards yourself, develop better relationships, embrace the place where you are.' Not one mention of God in that. Not one mention of Jesus Christ in that," Pitts remarks.

"That's just my message. There is scripture in there that backs it all up. But I feel like, Byron, I'm called to help people…how do we walk out the Christian life? How do we live it? And these are principles that can help you. I mean, there’s a lot better people qualified to say, 'Here’s a book that going to explain the scriptures to you.' I don’t think that’s my gifting," Osteen says.

Hehe, thanks Mr. Pitts. So, there are better people qualified to explain the scriptures. I agree; they're called Lutherans. ;) This exchange highlights why Osteen is a fad: "his message" doesn't actually help people! It certainly does nothing for their immortal souls. Having good relationships and being positive toward yourself as principles don't stand up to the crushing weight of sin upon every single person. Without the grace of Jesus Christ and his life-giving salvation, everything else is meaningless! Lutheranism might never be as popular at any one time, but the message is far more enduring. Because it's GOD'S message.

I don't understand why people have life-changing experiences by listening to this man. They must like being able to listen to motivational fluff and call it church. They get to call themselves religious--because he talks on Sunday mornings--without the whole bother of acknowledging their need for forgiveness and hearing the actual Word of God. But as soon as his promises of a better life don't come true, they'll drift away, thinking they tried Christianity and didn't like it. Sad.

"...You feel very humbled, you know?" Osteen says.

"Humbled by your success?" Pitts asks.

Answer: yes.

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