St George Orthodox Church is less than a mile from Joel Osteen’s arena. We’re neighbors. Bless our hearts. I fault no one for adopting a more positive outlook as a survival aid in this negative age — just don’t confuse it with Christianity.
They say it takes all types, and I’m sure there’s all types that make up the 40,000 worshipers Joel packs in on a Sunday. One things for sure, it makes getting on Highway 59 a little more negative for the rest of us when Joel’s former sports arena dismisses the happily motivated crowds.
But, I’m no hater.
However, I did find a whole lot of stuff in the following article that I’m pretty positive about — especially the last sentence.
[The Osteens are proponents]… of positive thinking–the doctrine that God intends for you to be rich, healthy and generally “great” right here in this life. While politicos have focused on the Christian Right, there’s been far less attention to the fast-growing brand of Christianity Lite, also represented by televangelists Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn and Creflo Dollar. Positive thinking is the theology of the modern mega-church, and it avoids all mention of sin–including the “sins” of abortion and homosexuality–lest such “negative” topics turn off any potential converts or “seekers.” Its promise is that you can have anything you want simply by “visualizing” it or, as Osteen puts it, “believing for it”–a doctrine derided by some Christian critics as “name it and claim it.”
In the theology of Christian positive thinking, “everything happens for a reason.” The Osteens may conclude that the divine intention was to prod them into to emulating Joyce Meyers and Creflo Dollar by investing in a private jet. But there’s another possible message from on high: that this brand of Christianity fosters a distinctly un-Christian narcissism.
Consider the ways the Lord works in the life of the Osteens, as recounted in Joel’s book, Your Best Life Now, which has sold 4 million copies and is graced by a back cover photo of the smiling couple. Acting through Victoria, who kept “speaking words of faith and victory” on the subject, Joel was led to build the family “an elegant home.” On other occasions, God intervened to save Joel from a speeding ticket and to get him not only a good parking spot but “the premier spot in that parking lot.” Why God did not swoop down with a sponge and clean up the offending stain on the armrest remains a mystery, because Osteen’s deity is less the Master of the Universe than an obliging factotum.
Plenty of Christians have already made the point that the positive thinking of Christianity Lite is demeaning to God, and I leave them to pursue this critique. More important, from a secular point of view, it’s dismissive of other humans, and not only flight attendants. If a person is speeding, shouldn’t he get a ticket to deter him from endangering others? And if Osteen gets the premier parking spot, what about all the other people consigned to the remote fringes of the lot? Christianity, at best, is about a sacrificial love for others, not about getting to the head of the line.
If the Osteens’ brand of religion is what flight attendant Sharon Brown lost faith in as a result of being manhandled on that plane to Vail, then the suit should be dropped, because Victoria Osteen has already done her enough of a favor.
Read it all here.