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Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Celestial SeraphiMan

Unfortunately, I fear that one can easily swing from one extreme to the other--neglecting one set of ideas and focusing too much on the other set.

For example...

I could easily become fixated on the Final Judgement thus give up all hope of making the world a better place or laying a foundation for a civilization of love. I could easily fixate on Satan and thus forget to build a relationship with God. I could easily become fixated on sin and neglect to do good works.

What I'm getting at is that we need balance in our lives and our mentalities. I'm not trying to demote those concepts you stress, but rather to...bah, I may be simply rambling. I'm terribly sorry if I really am rambling.

Carl Olson

Unfortunately, I fear that one can easily swing from one extreme to the other--neglecting one set of ideas and focusing too much on the other set.

You're absolutely correct, and it is a good point. I appreciate your remark because, having come from a Fundamentalist background, I often didn't hear much about God's mercy and love. Yes, we believed in it, but the sermons and messages were usually very negative and filled with fear.

It's not clear to me that Osteen even believes in the basic Gospel message that Jesus died on the Cross, rose from the dead, and did so that sinners might be reconciled to God. I've listened to several of his sermons, and he rarely, if ever, even mentions Christ, and he avoids anything remotely "negative", such as sin, judgment, evil, etc. His message is all about being positive, believing in yourself, etc. His focus is self-esteem and prosperity, not joy and communion with the Triune God.

Rich Leonardi

The popularity of Osteen's crossless Christianity should indicate that we have little to fear of a swing in the other direction for the foreseeable future. And as Carl points out, the goal is truth, not balance or staying at the midpoint of a perceived pendulum.

Ed Peters

No fair Carl. "Final Judgment" is two words.

Nick Milne

An earnest guess:

1. Be sincere! Being True To You is the first step towards success.
2. Be tolerant! Don't get bogged down in judging - you've got your own life to live.
3. Center yourself! Whether through meditation or breathing exercises, or even the extravagant novelty of prayer, finding - and clearing - your "inner space" will leave more room for the important things.
4. Think positively! Don't let the negative side of things take away your happiness. A bright outlook can be a solution to a problem in and of itself.
5. Look to the future! People who dwell on the past often tend to get stuck there. The past ended yesterday, not today; leave it behind where it belongs.
6. Don't cut yourself off! Loners have to go it alone, but you don't have to. Rely on the diversity of your family and community, and their gifts will bear you up.
7. Finally, remember: There is a Force for Good in your life! Things may seem hard sometimes, but you're meant to be successful. You have only to embrace it, and it will empower you.

In contrast, I would offer these:

1. Fear God, but Love Him too.
2. Love your neighbors, but don't worship them.
3. Love the world, but don't trust it.
4. Think candidly; let rhetoric be found only in your speech, not in your head.
5. Look to the past: it's where you came from. Look to the present: all your stuff is there. Look to the future: it looks back upon you.
6. In community, unity; in person, individuality; in all things, thoughtfulness.
7. Ecclesiastes 9:10

Nick Milne

Hmm. Even my own seven are too "sunny," lacking both damnation and the damned. I guess this is why I'm not writing books about this sort of thing.

When asked to outline a plan for success, it's easy to forget that we are already, in the main, failures. Conceptually and actually. But for the redemptive grace of God, all of our striving towards "success" would be a most miserable vanity indeed. I like to think that we may, in using God's endowed gifts and our own individual wills, attain certain positive things for our own part after having first been restored by the salvation of the Lord. I do not insist upon it, of course; I am not a wise or credentialed man. But I like to think it, anyway.

Carl Olson

No fair Carl. "Final Judgment" is two words.

Which is exactly why I didn't put down "Canon Law." But I thought that Osteen might, indeed, mention canon law (after all, who could resist?), so I went with "final judgment." Perhaps "Judgment" would have been just as well.

Cristina A. Montes

Tough challenge...finding seven different ways of saying "Think positive", "Be yourself", and "Accept others as they are".

I've already tried doing these, and my life hasn't improved yet. :P

Seriously, though, while I do like reading "feel-good stuff" every now and then, I don't like "feel-good stuff" that's more "feel" than "good".

fr richard

Well done, Carl. You've covered this topic extremely well in a very short space.

Joel Osteen preaches a Christianity without a real Savior, and he panders to the masses in order to literally cash in on people hungry for success and prosperity, as "Christians", without ever having to face Christ.


What I'd really pay to see: Joel osteen and Rhonda byrne in a positive-thinking steel cage match.


Excellent work, Nick.


Osteen is but the latest - in his sunshiny, life affirming, smiling way - to bring to mind H. Richard Niebuhr's terse observation about Liberal Protestantism: "A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross."

Cristina A. Montes

Joel Osteen's messages on self-esteem and positive thinking are valid, I would even say important. But self-esteem and positive thinking must be grounded on reality.


I am willing to bet Osteen's cockeyed optimism turns faith, hope and love into inwardly directed personal values instead of supernatural virtues. The end result of this is the cult of self-worship not the Body of Christ.

A Mauldin

This whole 'prosperity gospel/word of faith' heresy really makes me angry. If you think Osteen is over the top, try the Copelands (Kenneth) or Benny Hinn. I wonder what Luther would think now of his 'any plowboy can interpret the Bible' if he could see this hooey, although to be fair, a Lutheran minister did a great video expose on this movement.

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