Skip to comments.Osteenification and What it Portends
Posted on 03/20/2014 4:50:02 AM PDT by Gamecock
Virtually every morning I try to catch up on news and sports while running on my treadmill. Often the running (mostly walking) is accompanied by the vigorous exercise of my remote. Recently, I flipped into an interview involving Singaporean mega-pastor Joseph Prince. The more I tuned in, the faster my heart rate. Disregard for the meaning and context of Scripture was simply breathtaking. It all led up to taking a shower and beginning work on a book now titled The Osteenification of American Christianity.
Why Osteenification? Because Joel Osteen is the prime provocateur of a seductive brand of American Christianity that reduces God to a means to our ends. A message that beckons multitudes to the table of the Master, not for the love of the Master but for what is on the table. He is the de facto high priest of a new brand of Christianity perfectly suited for a feel-good generation. And while a host of pretenders (including Prince) follow in his train, Osteen is clearly the biggest of the bunchaccording to People magazine, twice as big as the nearest competitor. And his claim to Americas largest church is just a small part of the story. With one billion impressions per month on Facebook and Twitter, Osteen is the hip new personification of God-talk in America.
But heres the problem. Behind Osteenian self-affirmationsI am anointed, I am prosperous, My God is a supersizing Godthere lies a darker hue. Behind the smile is a robust emphasis on all that is negative. If you are healthy and wealthy, words created that reality. However, if you find yourself in dire financial straits, contract cancer, or, God forbid, die an early death, your words are the prime suspect. Says Osteen, Were going to get exactly what were saying. And this can be good or it can be bad (Discover the Champion in You, May 3, 2004). In evidence, he cites one illustration after the other. One in particular caught my attention: the story of a kind and friendly worker at the church. He died at an early age, contends Osteen, being snared by the words of his mouth (I Declare [FaithWords, 2012], viiiix).
This illustration serves to underscore a predictable trend; a trend now pandemic in American Christianity. Osteen and company simply use the Scriptures to communicate whatever they want. Again and again, Scripture is tortured in the process of deluding the faithful. As even the most cursory reading of Proverbs 6 makes plain, being snared by the words of your mouth has nothing to do with negatively professing death into ones own life and everything to do with a divine warning against making rash pledges.
While in The Osteenification of American Christianity I highlight the Osteenian proclivity for Scriptorture, atonement atrocities, and obsession with anecdotes on generational curses and frequent use of urban legends, what Osteen has most popularized in Christian circles is a baptized version of New Thought Metaphysics. In essence, a version of the law of attraction popularized by Rhonda Byrne in her runaway bestseller The Secret (Atria Books, 2006). For Byrne, the genie is the law of attraction, which, for Osteen, is rejiggered the Word of Faith. As such, he is committed to the notion that faith is a force, that words are the containers of the force, and that through the force of faith people create their own realities. As he explains in his mega-bestseller, Your Best Life Now (Warner Faith, 2004), You have to begin speaking words of faith over your life. Your words have enormous creative power. The moment you speak something out you give birth to it. This is a spiritual principle, and it works whether what you are saying is good or bad, positive or negative (p. 129).
Byrne and her contributors are remarkably open to dangerous hues of the secrets dark underbelly. As such, she points out events in history where masses of lives were lost. Says Byrne, If people believe they can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they have no control over outside circumstances, those thoughts of fear, separation, and powerlessness, if persistent, can attract them to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She emphatically concludes, Nothing can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thoughts (The Secret, 28). Likewise, when Osteen describes the horrific genocide of nearly one million Rwandans, the implications are never far from the surface. Wherever tragedy strikes, thoughts and words are at the center of the narrative.
And Osteen does not only use modern-day anecdotes. With great bravado, he impugns biblical characters, including a hapless paralytic in the Gospel of John. In Osteens twist of the text, Jesus encounters a man by the pool of Bethesda just lying around feeling sorry for himself. In response to Jesus simple, straightforward question, the paralytic begins listing all of his excuses. Im all alone. I dont have anyone to help me. Other people have let me down. Other people always seem to get ahead of me. I dont have a chance in life. With nary a hint of mercy, Osteen continues: Is it any wonder that he remained in that condition for thirty-eight years? In sharp contrast, Osteen says his sister Lisa arose from the ashes of a painful divorce and remarried. Unlike the paralytic, she wasnt going to sit around by the pool for thirty-eight years feeling sorry for herself (Your Best Life Now, 148149, 151).
For Osteen, words are downright magical. In the physical realm, you have to see it to believe it, but God says you have to believe it, and then youll see it. Exhorts Osteen, Think about it. Your words go out of your mouth and they come right back into your own ears. If you hear those comments long enough, they will drop down into your spirit, and those words will produce exactly what youre saying. As proof, Osteen invokes the Bible: The Scripture tells us that we are to call the things that are not as if they already were (Become a Better You [Free Press, 2007], 111, 112). As he must surely know, Scripture says nothing of the sort. Indeed, the very passage Osteen references (Romans 4:17) clearly communicates that it is the God who gives lifenot wewho calls things that are not as though they were.
Osteenian Scriptorture is not unique. His words and phrases are now mimicked in pulpits throughout the land. As a result, Christianity has been plunged into an ever-deepening crisis. If occult sources such as those referenced in The Secret pose the greatest threat to the body of Christ from without, the deadly doctrines disseminated through the Osteenification of Christianity pose the greatest threat to Christianity from within. To avert the carnage, a paradigm shift of major proportions is desperately neededa shift from perceiving God as a means to an end, to the recognition that He is the end.
While we may legitimately engage in collegiate debates over such in-house matters as the perpetuity of spiritual gifts, not so the dogmas espoused by Osteen, which involve essential matters with real consequences for this world and the next. The reality is this: Osteenification has subverted the very essence of biblical faith in transposing the glory of the cross for the glory of consumerisma fast-food Christianity long on looks, dreadfully short on substance.
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Interesting post .I have not seen a whole lot of Prince - just a few snippets here and there - but in that small sample, I had not heard him slip into the Osteenization syndrome. He’s over packaged, over cool, uses his accent in an exaggerated way - but I had not heard Osteen in there.
Not to dispute your theory .you heard what you heard .just thought I’d throw that in.
With great bravado, he impugns biblical characters, including a hapless paralytic in the Gospel of John. In Osteens twist of the text, Jesus encounters a man by the pool of Bethesda just lying around feeling sorry for himself. In response to Jesus simple, straightforward question, the paralytic begins listing all of his excuses. Im all alone. I dont have anyone to help me. Other people have let me down. Other people always seem to get ahead of me. I dont have a chance in life. With nary a hint of mercy, Osteen continues: Is it any wonder that he remained in that condition for thirty-eight years? In sharp contrast, Osteen says his sister Lisa arose from the ashes of a painful divorce and remarried. Unlike the paralytic, she wasnt going to sit around by the pool for thirty-eight years feeling sorry for herself (Your Best Life Now, 148149, 151).
I have heard Ptrince a couple times. He is fairly solid, but every once in a while something slips through that makes me scratch my head. Prince is thoug, a far better option the Osteen.
yeah, well not everyone is as straight forward felonious as say, Mike Mourdock ..some are more subtle .
We did all these things in your name. “Depart from me for I know you not”
‘Stand up, Chuck.’
Indeed. Murdock has few peers. I don’t know if Robert Tilton is still running his scams, but he could probably teach Murdock a few tricks.
Our generation has been cursed with a huge cadre of false teachers.
Prosperity preaching has been around for a long time. There is nothing new under the sun.
Feel good about “self” religion is merely provided to give a contrast to the empty feeling forthcoming that is necessary for one to truly seek God. This type of religion is no better than the head in the sand approach of the atheists. Remember what Jesus said, Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
The following thread tells us about the “feel good” path.
On Suffering as A Remedy for Something Worse. A Meditation on a Teaching from St. Augustine
What’s astonishing about Mourdock is that he has no real tricks it’s just “sew a seed in faith” which of course means give Mike Mourdock money so God can bless your faith. And people do it.
He’s wealthy beyond belief according to a friend of mine who know’s him a little bit.
I was listening to the Fighting for the Faith radio show and heard someone describe Osteen as a “hyper-pelagian” and thought that was right on the mark.
But I doubt Osteen even knows what a Pelagian is.
Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
The author, Hank Hanegraaff, has written a short, but informative article on literal interpretation of the Bible:
Are we allowed to comment on this post or is it as if it happened behind closed doors in the church?
Generally speaking I don’t do caucus threads. This is not identified as such, so have at it!
Behind the smile is a robust emphasis on all that is negative. If you are healthy and wealthy, words created that reality. However, if you find yourself in dire financial straits, contract cancer, or, God forbid, die an early death, your words are the prime suspect.
What do these people, and these congregations (won't call them churches) do when tragedy comes? Say, a senseless car wreck, or someone dying alone in an apartment a thousand miles from family? What do those preachers say?
Perhaps these people lead a "blessed" life and never experience pain. I've seen too much death lately to ever give any credence to this false teaching.
Thanks for the link to Hank’s article! I listen to him on the drive home in the evenings. I always seem to come away having learned something new.