Thursday, January 06, 2005


Heaven On Earth

Joel Osteen, pastor of the fastest growing church in America, has come out with a book. I have been hearing about him for sometime now, and have even caught his services on T.V. a few times. He appeared to be very dynamic on stage. His message, in the few sermons that I saw, revolved around using positive thoughts and attitudes to receive God's blessings in this life. My wife gave me his book for Christmas, and since I had grown weary of King's meandering conclusion to the Dark Tower, I decided to give Mr. Osteen a read.

I had barely gotten through page six when I ran into this passage:

"Interestingly, when Jesus wanted to encourage His followers to enlarge their visions He reminded them, "you can't put new wine into old wineskins". Jesus was saying that you cannot have a larger life with restricted attitudes."

This is the first time I ever had that particular passage explained in that way. I had always understood the verse to mean that the Gospel cannot be contained in the old Jewish law since the law can only expose sin, it cannot forgive it.

To be honest, I approached Mr. Osteen's book from the outset with a bit of trepidation. I'm very uneasy with his message of worldly blessings through faith and positive thoughts. Surely God blesses us in this life, I am the receiver of a multitude myself. However, my blessings in this life, like my salvation, came by grace and not by any method I used.

Christ himself, many OT prophets, most (if not all) of the apostles, and thousands of Christians over the years have been martyred for their faith. Many more thousands have suffered, and continue to suffer, around the world for the Gospel. The Gospel of forgiveness and everlasting life. Not the Gospel of peaches, gravy, and a chicken in every pot.

What concerns me the most over the message of Mr. Osteen, and others like him, is what happens after the hearer has bought it. I mean, what happens to the person after the party's over and they still have the addiction, the cheating husband, and the over-drawn checking account? I fear what happens is that God, the God who sent his very son to die for our sins, gets called cruel or non-existent. This person then finds him or herself in a worse position than when they started, or like Christ said" ...and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves."

Maybe I'm being too hard on Mr. Osteen, like I said, I'm only on page six.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
I don't think you're being too hard on Mr. Osteen at all, even if you've only read the first six pages. My reason for thinking this is as follows: you have already discovered that he takes verses out of scripture, ignores the context in which the verse was written, and quotes it to promote his own agenda.

Okay, maybe I'm being a trifle harsh ... I mean I should probably look up the scripture and read the context before I disregard his view of the meaning (I REALLY don't feel like looking it up right now, my bible is at the other end of the house, and I'm lazy)- but I certainly don't remember that being what Jesus was talking about.

So, yeah, I think you're right in your interpretation (sp?) of the scripture.

Disclaimer: Please do not disregard the views and opinions of the above poster simply because of odd content you may or may not find on her blog. When she posts on her blog, she goes a bit crazy.

Mr. Osteen's twisting of bible verses is certainly nothing knew, I've done it myself when I didn't want to bend in my thinking on a certain point. However, Osteen appears to be doing this to support a promise that he claims God gives us, that we will receive all these cool cash/prizes if only we had a positive outlook and believed hard enough. This simply isn't true and sets people up to resent God when he, in thier estimation, doesn't follow through.
Oh, I see. Hmm... according to Mr. Osteen then, all those poor martyrs in the Bible must not have had the positive outlook and faith that God wanted them to have.

Well, doesn't look like I'll be reading any of his books.

I like your blog, by the way, it's nice to see some well-thought-out writing about things that matter.
I think many people shy away from organized religion and the Bible because they are turned off by this very issue. The Bible is a compilation of numerous writers and has been translated and given various interpretations over hundreds of years.

In a Bible study class once I recall one small passage was discussed by us for an hour with a number of totally different interpretations debated. Yes, it got us 'thinking' but it wore us out. Point is, we all can find passages and give our interpretations to justify our specific beliefs. It's why I've backed off from such discussions. It wears me out. I'm not close-minded but I have a pretty good idea what the intent of the Bible is and really don't get much from hearing everyone toot their own horns to support or put down others.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by