Joel Osteen and the Prosperity Gospel 

Joel Osteen, Wikipedia


Sep 1, 2017 (San Diego) Somebody has to say it. Greed is bad. You surely have heard that Joel Osteen refused to open his church, that is until social media made him do it. One has to wonder if Osteen would have opened the manger to Joseph and Mary. Or to be more precise, one does not have to. Osteen would not have offered any kind of shelter to a poor couple, who obviously were not saved, since they were poor. 

Before you ask, how do you know? It is simple. The Prosperity Gospel that Osteen preaches presupposes the idea that those marked for salvation are well to do. They have been blessed with material goods beyond imagining. This is how others can also know that they are blessed, and more importantly saved.  

Joseph and Mary were not marked for salvation using this morally bankrupt ideology. They were poor. They were working class to use a modern parlance. They had a donkey, which placed them slightly above others. But they hardly wore the clothes of the wealthy. The irony that they would not have been sheltered should not escape anybody. 

On the other hand, we are seeing moral actions performed by thousands who are risking their lives to get out there, and rescue people. We are also witnessing those acts with shelter workers who are making sure people have the minimum of dignity. Hospital workers evacuating those who need to be evacuated. First responders who are risking their lives. We are also seeing it with media organizations who have used their platform for reunification. There are thousands of people who are doing what they do, out of a moral compass and a need to do what needs to be done. 

Jewish Temples, Christian Churches, and Mosques are helping as best as it can be done. 

These are true moral values, in Judaism is called Tikum Olam, to care for the world. If you could call them the golden mean, do onto others as you would want others to do for you. It is a sense of community. 

This prosperity gospel preaches that “Jesus will rescue you from poverty, depression, mediocrity, and so on. In short—and using the nine marks—these churches offer motivational talks, not biblical sermons; proof-texts, not biblical theology; applications of the gospel, not the gospel; moral improvement, not conversion; calls to social justice and giving, not evangelism; status in the community, not accountability-affording membership; flattery, not discipline; lessons in getting busy, not discipleship; professionalism, not leadership.” 

While we are quoting an evangelical critique of this gospel, it is important to understand that Osteen is at the extreme of this religious movement. It is one that has torn at the moral fabric of the nation. It has helped to justify the ideology of greed is good, where wealth matters, not community. 

Whether you are religious or not, this, and the Gospel of Health have to be critiqued for the damage they have done to the United States. They have both placed the concerns of the individual over those of community. They also have given way to a moral vision that helps to build community. 

A church that could house thousands in the midst of a biblical flood that remained closed, until intense pressure was applied, tells us all we need to know. This ideology of greed has to be rejected. 

Categories: Prosperity Gospel, Harvey

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