Some very good points. VERY good. Yet, I’m going to expand on this a little bit. Mr. Walsh is writing from the view of, “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself” (St. Augustine). True, but here’s my issue with his writings, first of all, he says that Joel Osteen and his wife are heretics BECAUSE of the fact that they represent Americas Christians. He cites many examples of what the CHRISTIANS he has known have said, believed, or used faith to explain away their sin, and claims they are proof of Osteens terrible message, when he doesn’t prove that these Christians cite Osteen. They probably don’t even listen to him.
“My faith is all about making me happy and comfortable” (Mrs. Osteen) is absurd and insanely heretic, and Walsh has a great idea pointing this out. Yet, he doesn’t expand on the OSTEENS preaching that makes them heretics, he expands on how THE VIEWS OF THE PEOPLE HE HAS KNOWN makes the Osteens heretics. There is no actual statistics or report findings. A lot of what he’s blogging is actually just this basis of “knowledge he presumes to be true” about America. Here’s what I mean:
“Pornography, abortion, divorce, gay ‘marriage’—all are justified with the kind of rhetoric Mrs. Osteen used” (Walsh). This fact is merely supposed to be accepted on the basis of his confidence. There is no actual information, about how the OSTEENS rhetoric inspire this idea. The only thing we get is a 50 Shades of Gray anecdote, proving his point because he has heard ‘as a moderately successful blogger,’ people defend their sinful habits of reading this book with a “happiness-centered” idea of Christianity. This is not relevant at all. No actual information about how the Osteens have inspired people to read 50 shades, or how this even relates to their justifications of abortion, divorce, and gay (and here he almost sarcastically air quotes) “marriage.”
Now his points are spot on, “none of these people will ever publicly acknowledge Christianity’s command that we deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Christ up that hill to Calvary.” They whine about their happiness [not Gods] and cheerily* pick a few isolated out-of-context Biblical passages to support their unique interpretation of the Christian message” (Walsh). Yet, what is Christianity’s command? “Love the Lord with all your heart… (Matthew 22:37). “Love thy neighbor as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22:39). The main message of Christ is to follow him (Matthew 4:19), live a life full of love (Matthew 5:39-41), seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:41), and JUDGE NOT (Matthew 7:1). That one is very important yet overlooked so it needed to be written here.
“Ask and it shall be given to you…(Matthew 7:7) “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Matthew 11:28-30). “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20). These are the basic preachings of the Osteens, in a nutshell. Walsh is correct in saying that the Osteens preach a life of “comfortable living” and they DO preach a message that brings immediate happiness, health, and “wealth to all who follow it”. He is VERY correct in saying that it’s dangerous. Because, when you leave your “church” every night thinking that Christ is very concerned with your personal happiness rather than the well-being of your soul, that’s a problem. Very many times Osteen does preach on the idea that “if you have the faith to believe it, God’s gonna bless you with that new (house, car, job promotion, you pick it).” Walsh is correct in saying that our nation wants a shallow gospel that doesn’t challenge us to make sacrifices, and be righteous”.
Here is what I know about Joel Osteens preaching, and this is important because with all the bashing the guy receives, it is IMPORTANT to recognize the high points, if only for a rebuttal and refutation. Joel Osteen inspires people to be good, nonjudgmental, and full of faith. He is a fantastic motivational speaker. He has the power to tell millions of people whatever he wants because they are so focused on his watered-down messages as a CENTERPIECE to Christianity, rather than something to take IDEAS from. Osteen preaches that people should believe, and so shall it be. And, while the bible says that, it wasn’t meant as a personal wealth promise. In fact, I have never heard Osteen preach on the importance of (and here, you know is my favorite bible quote) “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). I have not found one piece of evidence of Osteen donating to Charity. I only found this quote, “He has not taken a salary from his Houston megachurch for two years. He owns one house — the same one he and his wife, Victoria, have lived in for 13 years — and until recently he drove a 9-year-old car he inherited from his late father. Osteen pays his own hotel bills, and there is no private jet.” (Askville by Amazon). He doesn’t steal from people, he doesn’t request that people ‘pay money’ to be saved. But he definitely doesn’t preach condemnation, and he doesn’t preach the law, which is why the angry Christians hate him.
The problem with Osteen is that he often doesn’t preach Christ. He preaches a gimmick. Here’s the basic map of all his books “random number” ways to “do something to drastically change your life.” He is a motivational speaker, who uses bible verses of faith to help people better themselves. It is a VERY human-centered message. Yet, if people took it for what it is, I don’t think it would be that bad. People should have faith that is bold and unwavering. That’s what Osteen has taught me. But thinking back, that’s really all that I’ve really learned, because that’s all he has repetitively preached on. He preaches on “being good,” which a lot of condemnation, and even “grace” preachers often overlook. It’s an important message.
Preachers often overlook the similarities between what they mold Christians to be and the selfish, hypocritical and hateful ways of the Pharisees when Jesus called them out specifically to address these very prominent reoccurrences within religion.
I am going to capitalize this because it is the most important thing I will say: “IF PEOPLE TOOK OSTEENS PREACHINGS IN THE SAME WAY THEY *SHOULD* TAKE EVERY PREACHERS TEACHINGS, IT WOULD NOT SEEM SO ‘HERETIC’”. If people would not put ALL of their faith in one man, but instead listened to the message, gave it a decent amount of thought and consideration, and then prayed on it, and read the word about it, the nation’s Christians would not be so watered-down and blind as they are. There are wolves in sheep’s clothing among the flock. They preach hate and condemnation without preaching the love of Christ. They do not defend the fatherless or plead the case of the widow. They defend their cult-like ideas that God is AN ANGRY GOD full of hate, and so Christians should be too. They preach that OUR DUTY AS “CHRISTIANS” is to show everyone and tell everyone how righteous we are, and how righteous they need to be “lest they burn in the fiery pits of hell.” Instead of acknowledging the true teachings of Christ which were centered on self-sacrifice and humbleness, and “letting your light shine.”
In short, there are worse preachers out there.