Monday, September 8, 2014

Why Pastor Osteen Why? (Response to Pastors Victoria & Joel Osteen’s Sermon Viral)

            Forbes cites Lakewood church as the largest church in America.1 Pastor Joel Osteen with his wife and co-pastor Victoria Osteen lead Lakewood church.

            A recent video posted on YouTube shows Pastor Victoria Osteen’s remarks, which have gone viral on social media attracting scathing criticisms as well as sympathetic defense. She said, “I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—I mean, that’s one way to look at it—we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy… So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy,” she continued. “When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen” (Emphasis Mine).

            I disagree with Pastor Victoria’s theology. Let me merely introduce Pastor Victoria’s error.

            The crux of her message was “self over God” (narcissism), which is an outright idiocy. Man worships God for the Almighty God is to be worshiped in spirit and in truth.

            Holiness is the key theme in the book of Leviticus. We are not called to be holy for our sake, but we are called to be holy for God, whom we worship, is holy (Leviticus 11: 44 et al.). Therefore, when we worship God, we are not doing it for ourselves, but we are solely doing it for God. This thought pervades the Bible.

            Our joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We bear the fruit of joy if and only if we remain in Christ. Apart from Christ we can do nothing.  Therefore if we are joyous, God would be pleased with us, not for being joyous, but for being in HIM and HIM alone.

            Think about this as well; are we in the business of keeping God happy?  Alternatively, would our failures cause sadness in God? If this be true, and if the whole world, Christians included, are sinners, we are looking at the possibility of a very sad God. This God cannot be happy at all.

            On the contrary, if God is ‘perfect’ (of course God, as a maximally great being, has to be and is perfect), then HIS perfect being entails HIS happiness. Therefore, as the much acclaimed Aristotelian philosopher Thomas Aquinas said, “God is happiness itself.”2

            I hope this introduces the error. 

            As pastors of a church boasting attendance of 45000, Pastor Joel and Victoria Osteen would be much scrutinized. They would be much sought after and scorned by quite a few. This is the dilemma and the inevitability of success. Yet their immense popularity and mass acceptance would drown these negativities, even if these negativities are justified.

            Let’s look outside the persona and into the nature of the teaching. Why do preachers preach errors at the local church?

            Erroneous teaching would continue in the local church for the very simple fact that Christian or shall we say some of the so-called Christian seminaries teach these errors to their so-called gullible students. Thus, pastors graduating from these seminaries would preach errors to drag their congregation into deplorable theological pits and existential pitfalls.  

            This is the sad reality in the church today. When errors are preached by the pastors, the congregation simply believes the error as if the preacher’s words are infallible and inerrant. But in fact, it is the Bible that is infallible and inerrant because it is inspired by God.

            Since the average Christian is too busy to study and understand the Bible, and even discuss in Bible study groups, they render themselves vulnerable to the evil schemes of satan, which also could be in the form of church leadership (Cf. 2 Corinthians 11: 14).  When the average Christian refuses to study and understand the Bible, he/she loses the ability to discern the right from the wrong.

            When the average Christian loses the ability to discern the right from the wrong, he/she mindlessly applauds the heresies proclaimed by the preachers. These preachers are motivated by the applause, and they continue in their people-pleasing endeavor. The vicious cycle continues.

            So, it is not right to only blame the preachers for preaching errors. Please blame those in the congregation who hear and applaud these errors rather mindlessly. As some say, biblical illiteracy is at an all-time high.

            Here is a disclaimer. Not all churches and not all preachers preach errors. There are preachers and churches that remain faithful to God and HIS Word. Similarly, not all Christians remain without a great desire to study the Word of God. There are quite a few and I am blessed to know a few who have a deep desire to know more of God and HIS Word.

            So what do we do when we encounter errors? C.S Lewis once said, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.” We ought to pray that God opens a door or even a window of opportunity where we can engage the error so to present the truth with a view to liberate the many who may have believed in the error.

            So those who are empowered to counter the errors should not remain silent, instead voice out the truth so that the truth will set them free. Having said this, the truth does not set everyone free, for many will reject the truth. But rejection of truth need not dampen the voice of truth. Truth should be proclaimed always, especially by those empowered to negate errors.  

            So let’s understand the Bible (2 Timothy 3: 16-17) through the anointing of the Holy Spirit and continue to destroy “ …speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God…” (2 Corinthians 10: 5a, NASB), and may we do so in the power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.



2 St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae (A Concise Translation), p61.  


Anonymous said...

Agree with you Raj. the self on the throne is exalting the flesh.
Attracting crowds through soft preaching is dangerous.the vultures gather where there are dead does dead doctrine.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely true....

Raj Richard said...

Thank you very much for your comments.

Yes, preaching prosperity takes the focus away from Christ. It would also pave way to people coming into Christianity for prosperity and be disillusioned with Christianity when they do not prosper. The ramifications of prosperity gospel is enormous.

The good Lord will bless and keep you both.

sarah said...

It is deeply disturbing when preachers preach wrong stuff and people blindly following.

It disturbs more when people do not show any interest in studying.
We cannot compel,but encourage.

Is there a mystery that some people like and some do not,
just wondering !!!

Raj Richard said...

I agree with you, Sarah. Thanks for taking time to comment.

I think people are more susceptible to being brainwashed. Once brainwashed, they become a slave to their brainwashed dogma. More importantly, and as you rightly said, they remain without learning, remaining satisfied in their hermetic cocoon. Sad reality indeed.

God bless.