Home Living Today Commentary Matt Walsh: Here is the one important lesson all Christians can learn from Joel Osteen

Matt Walsh: Here is the one important lesson all Christians can learn from Joel Osteen

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Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Houston has been under attack — unfairly, it seems — because it supposedly closed its doors to flood victims. The church has vehemently denied the story, explaining that there are many practical reasons why it is not an ideal location for a hurricane shelter, but that it would welcome anyone who comes asking for help.

It appears very likely that the accusation is off base. Though their explanation was delayed and confusing, I’m inclined to believe it. And anyway, I’m more eager to know why the good pastor hasn’t opened his 10 million dollar, 17,000 square foot mansion to the public. Actually I’d like to know how he justifies ever having bought it in the first place. Well, I know how he justifies it. He and his wife “positioned themselves for a blessing,” as they like to say. Those of us who don’t live in opulent estates just haven’t put ourselves in the right place to receive such rewards.

This is the essence of the Prosperity Gospel preached by Osteen and his ilk. It’s insidious and heretical, but crowd pleasing. A Gospel that tells us to embrace suffering and poverty will not pack a 17,000 seat arena. It won’t sell books. It cannot be monetized. It won’t buy you mansions and private planes. It won’t make you famous. People don’t want to hear it. They want to hear something else. They want to hear that fortune and luxury are just around the corner — God wants us to have these things, as Osteen constantly insists — and all we need to do is be a little more positive and probably buy one or two more Joel Osteen books.

This is the Gospel of the World. The Gospel of Osteen. A Gospel specifically tailored to challenge no one, offend no one, and make everyone happy. And it fails miserably on every count.

Consider this: after Osteen has spent his televangelist career tickling ears and professing this watered down, materialist, luxurious faith, still the world hates him. It really hates him. I’m actually struck by the passion and virulence of the hatred, coming as it is from people who don’t accept the Gospel Osteen has bastardized and don’t care about the heresy he professes. Osteen has tried very hard not to be hated by these people, but they end up hating him even more than they hate Christians who actually believe in the Bible. That is the great and tragic irony. Osteen has perverted the Gospel in order to befriend and impress the very people who now slander him. He has given the world what it wants: empty hope, vague optimism, a religion stripped of all that is difficult and painful, yet they still throw their stones.

If you preach the true Gospel, the world will label you a neanderthal and a bigot. But if you come up with a new Gospel in the hopes of avoiding these insults, you will be labeled a fraud and a hypocrite. The only difference is that the insults in your case will be true and well deserved. Out of your fear of false attacks, you have opened yourself up to accurate ones. And even the unfair attacks will still be largely your own fault. They are the fruits of your lies and your heresy. You will be like a wolf in sheep’s clothing who gets devoured by other wolves.

This is the lesson we learn from prosperity preachers, though it is certainly not the lesson they’re trying to teach: Our adulterous affair with the world will always result in heartbreakRead more

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