Skip to comments.A rising star in the new Culture of Christianity
Posted on 08/10/2005 7:54:28 AM PDT by TBP
On any given Sunday, 100 million households from Australia, Europe, and across the USA will tune in to view Joel Osteen broadcasting from the 30,000-member Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. Rated as the #1 inspirational television program by Nielson Media Research, Joel Osteen is preaching a message that certainly seems to be touching home with people all over America. In his much respected best selling book, Your Best Life Now-7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, Osteen outlines a seven-step process for effecting profound change in your life. He speaks in terms of the positive in everyday life. Expect God's favor, live your full potential, realize your God-given right to prosperity, including being happy, building a good marriage, and having good relationships. Accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative are really the basis of Osteen's message. His true gift is in speaking directly to the viewer, almost to the point that the viewer feels that Osteen knows him personally. He talks about everyday real-life issues, using self disclosure from his own experiences and subsequent lessons learned in order to relay a powerful message.
Osteen's story has been often told in recent years. His father was the much-loved and revered Reverend John Osteen, founder and longtime pastor of the Lakewood Church. Father John authored 45 books and was know as the "pastor's pastor," leading seminars and conferences around the country along with running a successful television ministry. Joel Osteen's first experiences were in business and media, becoming a successful producer of his father's television ministry. Upon his father's untimely death in 1999, Joel humbly stepped up to fill his father's shoes, and the rest is recent history.
The amazing phenomenon that we are witnessing with the rise of Osteen is that he has seamlessly incorporated and integrated the long-practiced prosperity principles of the century-old New Thought movement (principles derived from the teachings of Jesus and even earlier teachings) into a mainstream Christian message. A mere decade ago, most of the TV preachers and hometown pastors delivered a message that those in the flock are sinners, undeserving, dust-of-the-earth folks, who could not expect much from God other than a beautiful afterlife. The common teaching did not recognize that we are empowered with making a good life for ourselves. In fact, many would have called Osteen's teachings blasphemy. And some very vocal mainstream Christianity proponents are saying just that. The internet is littered with "outing Joel Osteen" messages, stating that he is card carrying metaphysical teacher not unlike Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and Neale Donald Walsch. They say that he speaks the same lingo as the well known self empowerment gurus of today, adding a Christian tint and point of view.
When Osteen is asked who inspires him, he is vague in his responses. When asked which books he reads, he replies that he reads many books and has no particular favorites. When interviewed about gay marriage and other liberal ideas, he has replied that he doesn't get into that. Regardless of where the basis of his message comes from, it is powerful and fulfilling to his large audience. It is quite apparent to any knowledgeable viewer who may have studied New Thought and other metaphysical writings, that Osteen is preaching what philosopher William James called "the religion og healthy-mindedness." He is delving far beyond the power of positive thinking of the Sixties and Seventies. He discusses our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and belief systems. Some metaphysical teachers are feeling cheated, for Joel Osteen is bringing mainstream Christianity down a parallel path of teachings. But what does it really matter? If mainstream Christianity can transform its ages-old "fire and brimstone" fear-based message into one of self empowerment and practical positive living , then it is all the better for humanity. The world's Christians can now feel empowered and happy without the prerequisite guilt that was so prominent in the past.
Joel Osteen is touching a chord in the human spirit in teaching empowerment, betterment, positive thinking, optimism, and gratitude toward God. The overwhelming response is evidenced by blockbuster book sales and skyrocketing television ratings. And this very same phenomenal response is commensurate with the need of the seekers that he is reaching out to.
On a more reflective note, the melding of practical spirituality and Christianity may not be good for the long-term "brand" equity of Christianity. If you can watch presentations by Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson and Joel Osteen side by side and see little difference in the teachings other than terminology, what will be the outcome of the loyalty to one particular religion? All of these teachers are offering a similar message in different packaging. The real outcome of Osteen's rise is yet to be seen. The present conclusion is that he is greatly helping to uplift humanity by teaching self-empowerment, negating victim-hood, and relieving people of the propensity for guilt in striving for prosperity and abundance.
Joel Osteen is definitely a mover and a shaker of the highest nature. His charm and charisma packaged with a succinctly delivered message will only propel him to even greater heights. Expect his to be a household name around the world in the coming years. Whereas Billy Graham delivered a powerful sermon and saved millions of "sinners," Joel Osteen is sure to uplift and elevate the lives of many millions more.
Genuine Christianity is about self-denial, not self-empowerment.
Religion is supposed to be about uplifting us. How does self-denial promote that?
And to that I would add, it is about being filled with the Holy Spirit. A self-empowered human is a speck of dust compared to the most ordinary person who is filled with the H.S.
Talk about real power!
I will never understand the charismatic movement. It's really quite a cultural phenomenon.
In Christianity, you win by losing and you live by dying. Click on my name and read a quote by John MacArthur. He says it better than I ever could.
A saint of many centuries ago got it right with this prayer:
Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to posses everyting, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive. Let me find thy light in my darkness, thy joy in my sorrow, thy grace in my sin, thy riches in my poverty, thy glory in my valley, thy life in my death.
The charismatic movement is an attempt to get back to the fulness of the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Some of it is a little off the track, but the intention is good. As far as Joel Osteen, I think he's blessed because he's one of very few that preaches that God is for you and not against you. If you want proof of that, just check out what people on this website post far more often than not. I thank God that I came to know Him as accepting me. Had I learned from most of those on this website, I'd think God was an unreasonable, unpleasable, hating ogre. But He's not that. He's perfect love.
Christianity is definitely not about self-empowerment. It's about total reliance upon God and seeking to serve and advance His Kingdom in this world until Christ returns to fully consumate it. Osteen's message seems very anthropocentric.
I was recently taken to task by some posters here who were evidently embarrassed by Osteen representing Arminians. Your article is interesting and I think that Osteen represents a very large segment of current non-Denomination Arminian thought.
Matthew 16: 24 & 25: If anyone desires to follow after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
It's all a part of the great mystery. We just have to believe and follow Him. I have visited Lakewood Church and have found all the TV related things going on to be very distracting to worship. The message bothers me inasmuch as the Lord is not some cosmic grandpa who is there to grant my every wish. I am here to worship him and to dedicate my life to Him and that involves sacrifice on my part.
Which is, at bottom, nonsense.
"I come that you may have life and have it more abundantly."
That's what they think. Self-deluded people....
That is the truth. The presence of Almighty God in someone is an awesome thing to behold.
You are both right!
One must die to himself and be reborn of the Holy Spirit, a new creature in God. Then and only then will life be infinitely abundant...and, I might add, eternal.
Not really. Having life abundantly does not imply abundant
material gains. Life especially eternal life involves giving up more than enjoying "life".
Uh huh. Okay. And, um, just so I know, what is it exactly that the Lord is doing through your life, that is coming from your absolutely fantastic "self sacrifice"? I'd really like to know. Because, for knowing that God my Father is FOR ME and not AGAINST ME, I have had countless things done through my life, FREELY, by His grace, not because I'm so adept at "self sacrifice".
So really, fill me in, let me know about the far-reaching ABUNDANT FRUIT that Christ GUARANTEED to come through our lives, that you find in your life, solely because of your fantastic self-sacrifice....
I have no doubts the intentions are good, I'm just not set on the same frequency as they are I guess.
That's funny, because I got filled with the Holy Spirit before I did ANYTHING. ANYTHING. I think that's because, the Bible calls the Holy Spirit a GIFT. That means, you can't earn it with your works or "denying of self". He is granted freely to all believers.
Not entirely, but that is part of it. "It is the Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom."
Lord is not some cosmic grandpa who is there to grant my every wish--
Could not have said it better.
"When interviewed about gay marriage and other liberal ideas, he replied....he doesn't get into that".......that one phrase speaks much louder than anything else in the article. What he's saying is that "I'm another blow dried, odorless pastor who refuses to take on the flagship issues of the anti-American movement such as homosexuality, abortion, humanism in the schools, etc. because I don't want to "offend anyone", especially the IRS who might yank my 501C-3 tax status from me..........in other words, just pay attention to the current message vs. what's NOT being said and by the way, is your tithing up to date?
That's a very modern concept of religion. Self denial is the original concept.
Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
If you happen to receive material prosperity, then fine but do not aim solely for that. Besides, the Kingdom you refer to may not have anything to do with life in this present form.
Read a little further.
Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Do you know what Kingdom Jesus was referring to?
So, do you live out on the street? Because, didn't Jesus say to give it all away to the poor, and follow Him? Do you own anything? You'd better give it away, or you're not going to heaven, right?
"1": What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
"2": God forbid. How shall we, that are to sin, live any longer therein?
"3": Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his ?
"4": Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into : that like as Christ was raised up from the by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
"5": For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his , we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
"6": Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
"7": For he that is is freed from sin.
"8": Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
"9": Knowing that Christ being raised from the dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
"10": For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
"11": Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
"12": Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
"13": Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the , and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
"Thy life in my death"? That's the true gospel. Jesus said it unmistakably and inescapably, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matt. 16:24-25). It's not about exalting me, it's about slaying me. It's the death of self. You win by losing, you live by dying. And that is the heart message of the gospel. That is the essence of discipleship.
Yes. The problem I think arises in the definition of "abundantly."
I think you are correct. I define "abundantly" as an abundance of Love and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, not material gifts or sensual gifts or gifts of the pleasures of this world.
Jesus also said that His Kingdom is not of this world.
I have no problem with your definition. It is God-centered, not man-centered.
I love that one. Sort of the bottom line of this whole thread.
-You'd better give it away, or you're not going to heaven, right?--
It may seem extreme but it is easier for you to enter the eye of a "needle" (not literally) than one who is very comfortable...
Bump toyour comments?
Based upon your respnse to me and others posting here, you seem to be here to start an argument, not discuss.
Yup, that's where the joy is. You can see it on this thread. The anger is coming from the proponents of "man-centered" theology.
**Matthew 16: 24 & 25: If anyone desires to follow after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.**
Amen. See the Gospel from Saint John also.
Must you always attempt to goad others into an argument? Simple questions are much more conducive to a discussion than accusations and strawman arguments. You know that Jesus was talking about 'needs' rather than 'wants' in Matt 6.
Matthew 6:32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Paul might have thought he 'needed' the thorn in his flesh removed. But God had other plans and Paul accepted this.
2 Corinthians 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
God's grace is sufficient.
The ABUNDANT FRUIT that Christ GUARANTEED is much along the lines of the fruit that came through his life.
Christ would not expect you to obtain/bear fruit that was different from that of his early followers and himself.
Their fruits were not material at all..
Jer. 9:24, "but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD."
Psalm 20:7 Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.
1 Corinthians 1:31 so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."
2 Corinthians 10:17 But HE WHO BOASTS IS TO BOAST IN THE LORD.
Galatians 6:14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Religion is supposed to be about uplifting us.
Where's you ever hear that?
"Genuine Christianity is about self-denial, not self-empowerment."
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. - Phillipians 4:13
If that ain't self empowerment, I don't know what is. The Word says I can do all things. G-d himself has empowered me.
Then you come to, "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."
I see nothing in there about God-given right to prosperity. Actually, your verse is a wonderful example of true Christianity. Christ becomes everything. We become nothing.
You're correct in that religion is "supposed to be about uplifting us," because it has been that way since Cain lifted up himself to kill his righteous brother, Abel.
Later, men sought to lift themselves up in arrogance to the Lord through the building of the Tower of Babel, the epitome of religion.
We are "uplifted" when God exalts us after we realize that we cannot do anything to help ourselves or lift ourselves without Christ. Any other type of "uplifting" amounts to humanism.
Self-denial is the way of anyone who wishes to follow Christ.
So, are you saying that non-charismatics do not have the "fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit?" Are non-charismatics inferior to those who view themselves as charismatics?
What about Jesus' words?
Matthew 16:25 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Luke 17:33 " Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
John 12:25 " He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.
The "abundant life" is living with the assurance of knowing that eternal life awaits you in heaven.
Read your bible and you'll see that the life of a disciple mirrors the life of his/her master, which means if Jesus came to die in order for others to live, then we should do the same.