Sunday, December 23, 2007

quality rather than quantity

I've just read this article on Joel Osteen > a while back I didn't know who this chap was... but now I know. He is the pastor of the largest congregation in the USofA... and a successful writer. As I read the article something didn't sit right with me. I realised what it was when I read this:
“The reason [Osteen is] so popular is because of the spiritual infantilism of America. Not just spiritual, the infantilism of American culture,” Anthony says. “And he feeds the Paris Hilton, Britney Spears culture. It’s all me. Benefit me. What can I do for me? How can I feel better? What can I do about me? How you can get the best of your life? It’s all me-centered.”
I get the fact that he can reach out and bring people to God... that he helps people in need... and crosses cultural boundaries in doing so... but its all about the individual. The Prosperity Gospel that is preached is NONSENSE and, imho, false teaching.

In my experience following Jesus is about the individual but that is one small part of the whole. It is also about the community... and the wider-world of creation. We get ourselves right and then seek to bring the Kingdom of God to this world through our love... peace... patience etc.

We will benefit only in so far as we benefit others... we need to destroy our egos and our selfishness and look beyond our infantile selfs to others > whoever these others are. Self-worth is important... but it is superseded by people-worth, community-worth and creation-worth. We are there to help the healing of this world... which includes the healing of individuals but is far wider than that.

Let's stop thinking of ourselves and start thinking of others. When it comes to Joel and the Prosperity Gospel preached by the MEGAchurches and by others... the old adage is the truest > its about quality rather than quantity.


OK...OK... I have way too much love for Roy to get all fixed on this. As I continue to reject the Prosperity Gospel... I have rejected Joel and possibly judged him unfairly > this is a baby with the bathwater kind of thing > I am big enough to say that I am going back to the metaphorical drawing board to do more research... give him a chance... before I form a view on Joel's ministry. I will respond sometime in the new year.


Matthew Trisler said...

Okay, so maybe I'm a little harsh on the guy. He did give up a $200,000 salary. But since when does any pastor worth his salt think it's moral to pull in six figures?

Uff. I'm tired of American Christianity. Maybe one day Camera Obscura and/or Belle & Sebastian will kidnape me and my girlfriend, and drag us to Glasgow.

Royzoner said...

Well Naught here's where we differ - i think joel is a really positive guy, and his central message is to think of others and to look outside yourself. I like his messages, and I confess, yes I subscribe to his video podcast.

weareallghosts said...

Brother... I love you more than to fall out with you other this... we can and will disagree on things now and again.

What I will say, however, is that I believe in giving for the extension of His kingdom on Earth... and for projects that help people. I give for these reasons and not to get it back again.

I will not get rich by giving away all my money... unless you mean SPIRITUALLY rich. Which, last time I checked, is NOT what the Prosperity Gospel is all about.

Some of the spiritually richest people I have known have been on the bread line > their poverty actually increased their faith because they depended on Him far more.

I'm all for self-help... but only so far as it gets the person up off his or her fat bum so that they get involved. There is way too much ME in Joel's message... just as the evangelicals are too obsessed with individual salvation.

It's not just about the individual... but their community and their world.

That's my view anyway... and I respect the fact you may not agree with me on it.

Anonymous said...

i'm not a bible banger. (i'm roman catholic actually). and i've had issues with the church and also with born agains for years --- but... i've taken to Joel Osteen. He's very positive. I have a couple of his books and his podcast on my ipod. he's not saying "Go out there and make as much money as possible and give it to our church". Basically he is a power of positive thinking guy and how to meld THAT with the spiritual teachings in the Bible. I guess before folks start growling about him they should read/listen to his books/podcast instead of just a short interview. You know... that whole be Christian and not judgmental thing.

Royzoner said...

Hey 'Naught the last thing I want to do is fall out with you on this one, and it's good to dialogue on stuff like this.

I just think the central premise of the article you referenced : that Joel O shows the infantilization of America-- is pretty ludicrous. I think to base your opinion on a ministry you have never even heard of until a week ago, and then blanket it under the umbrella of the prosperity gospel, is not fair.

If I had never seen or heard of, say, the Salvation Army, and just read an article about how wearing uniforms in this day was silly or not right in God's eyes-- then based my opinion on only this article, well, that'd be pretty shallow of me. I'd miss out on the history of the SA and also the current good things it is doing-- despite maybe that I have personal objection to the clothing-- it still is a valid ministry.

If Joel O demonstrates the infantile needs of America, how do you explain that positive-thinking pastors and speakers have been around for a century? Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuler, I can name a dozen others-- then America turning infantile has been a long slow burn.

In my experience I've seen ministries who operate by giving-- things go wrong, give. Things go right, then still give. They'll give to ministries, to the poor, to people in need-- and you and they may consider this the American Prosperity Gospel--but they see God's faithfulness in providing as they obey His Word to do so.

It's not "Give so that I make lots of money" but "Give because God desires us to give," and people in that heart attitude, I have seen, are blessed with provision-- and at times exponentially more than one would think.

Merry Christmas tho, dude! And here is my challenge to watch two (2) of Joel O's video podcasts before you make up your mind about him.


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