Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Philippians and Osteen

Over the course of the last month I have been having a discussion with one of my parishioners about the theology and ministry of Joel Osteen. During a sermon on Luke 16:1-13, I stated that the prosperity theologians and TV evangelists are slaves to wealth and not God. I used Joel Osteen as an example, stating that his theology tells us that we can use God as an ATM. If we have enough faith, God will reward us.

I did not realize that out there in the congregation that day was a member of my congregation who was a huge fan of Osteen. He called me later on that week and asked to meet to discuss my sermon. I met with him and listened. He gave me information to read and I read it. He followed up with an email with links to Osteen's website and other info. I read it all, did more research on the Internet about Osteen and came to the same conclusions. I told this to the parishioner and I haven't heard from him since.

Then while leading a Bible study on Philippians I came across Philippians 1:17-18, The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. WOW is all I have to say.

This ripped into my heart because in Philippians Paul has a wonderful and joyous outlook even though he is in prison in Rome. He writes back to his beloved congregation and demonstrates such joy in his circumstance. He actually rejoices that there are people who are warping the gospel because God is still using them. Christ is preached. That is someone who truly has a heart for God and a spiritual maturity far beyond my own.

I watched 60 minutes interview with Joel Osteen and my heart was not transformed into a fan of his. Actually my personal view of his theology was firmed up even more. But today I rejoice in Joel message. Even though it is cotton candy gospel, one of health and wealth, and what I believe to be unbiblical, he is still reaching millions. God is at work through him weather he or I realize it or not. I rejoice in that today (Joel even cries about it during the interview). God is at work in his ministry and even in my poor attempts as well. We have to be humbled and rejoice. Yeah God!


John Meunier said...

In my church our pastor made a similar comment about Osteen. In a small group I was in there were a couple of people who were not so much fans of Osteen, but upset that the pastor had criticized another minister by name from the pulpit.

I still haven't sorted out whether I agree with my lay brothers or my minister on that issue.

Rich H said...

It seems to me that there is a valid distinction between someone who is preaching Christ insincerely and out of selfish ambition, and someone who is preaching something that is not Christ.

Later in the letter to the Philippians, Paul writes:

For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. Phil. 3:18-19

Paul did not hesitate to criticize those who were preaching a false gospel! And there's no doubt in my mind that the gospel of prosperity—the "cotton candy gospel"—is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps some of these millions who are reached by Osteen are coming to know Jesus Christ as savior, but they are not coming to know Him as Lord.

Brett Royal said...

I'm not a fan of Osteen, and he has some definite theological shortcomings. He definitely preaches a form of the prosperity gospel, but some things really stick out and make him different.
He doesn't take a salary since his book has done so well. His minsitry also maintains public records and publishes financial reports.
These things set him apart, for better or worse. It is good that he appears honest and sincere, but these actions may also give some legitimacy to his theological errors.

gavin richardson said...

i caught up with that 60 minutes episode last night. i get that he can be sincere... but if the road is narrow that finds salvation, can it really be found millions who need a message that is solely designed to help them feel good?