Topic #11 – The Prosperity Gospel

Posted: December 24, 2007 in God

Sheerly by chance, I caught most of a Joel Osteen interview on 60 Minutes last night while at a family Christmas gathering. I think it originally aired in October but was aired again.

I want to direct you to the CBS website recapping this interview. It’s a 3 page report, and this link will take you straight to page 3. You may or may not want to read the enitre recap. It is pretty interesting. What’s more interesting to me are the reader comments. 86 of them at the time I looked a few minutes ago. And mostly mean, seething, evil, sarcastic, cynical comments at that.

I’m not sure if I can think of a human being in my lifetime who has been so loved and so despised by the Christian community. Even among television evangelists. Millions love his “Prosperity Gospel“, tens of thousands attend his church, and millions watch it on tv each week. In fact, his church collects roughly $30,000,000.00 each year through the mail from tv viewers – and they don’t even solicit money on the television program!

However, many have grown up in the “Turn or Burn Gospel”, and believe it to be the correct way salvation is preached. In addition, many others (myself included) are very focused on a more “balanced” Gospel message. Teaching the good with the bad. The love and the rebuke. The rewards and the punishments. And understanding all of it in the light of God as a LOVING God whose ultimate desire is for His people to love Him, honor Him, live peaceful and fruitful lives, and spend eternity with Him.

In our society today, is the Prosperity Gospel necessarily bad? Is it better or worse than the Turn or Burn Gospel? I’d love to know what else happens at Osteen’s church. Small groups, classes, Sunday School, specialized ministries. What do their people study in those environments? Do they dig deeper? Do they wrestle with tougher questions? Do they truly believe that by living the right way, God will provide you with a better life and financial stability? I don’t really know. And I’m certainly in no position to judge.

I simply hope and pray that if we believe in the saving grace of Christ, that no matter what lens we see it through – prosperity, turn and burn, catholic, methodist, lutheran, king james only, traditional, modern, missional, attractional, etc – we’ll all be able to talk about it someday in Heaven together.

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