Victoria Osteen: Worship For Yourself or Worship Yourself? Same Thing!

Victoria OsteenThere is a serious problem with Victoria Osteen’s “worship for yourself” theology. At first it may seem nuanced or even about semantics. But in reality, there is a wide chasm between right theology and the Osteen gospel.

God Does Want It To Go Well With Us!

It is true that when we worship God and obey Him, we do benefit. And it is true that God is passionate about our obedience for the sake of our lives and the lives of our children “going well.”

23 When you heard the voice out of the darkness, while the mountain was ablaze with fire, all the leading men of your tribes and your elders came to me. 24 And you said, “The Lord our God has shown us his glory and his majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that a man can live even if God speaks with him. 25 But now, why should we die? This great fire will consume us, and we will die if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer. 26 For what mortal man has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? 27 Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey.”28 The Lord heard you when you spoke to me and the Lord said to me, “I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. 29 Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever (Deuteronomy 5:23–29)!

So, yes! God is passionate about our lives going well as a result of our connection with Him. However, if I approach God and say, “Ok, I want my life to go well, so I will surrender to God’s wishes” that is equivalent to an immature turning toward God in order to avoid hell. We could call it a “fire insurance” level of maturity. In such a case we might say, “Well, it’s a start.” But to have this as the core motivating factor worshiping God belies at best a severe immaturity and at worst a humanistic “use” of God that is actually more akin to a worship of ourselves than it is the true worship of the living God!

When a man finds the woman of his dreams, he doesn’t say, “Look at all the cool things I will get if I marry this woman!” On the contrary, he says, “I would be willing to suffer the loss of everything in order to marry this woman!” Why? Because he has encountered someone who captures his heart! Because he has recognized the woman’s great beauty, inside and out! The difference is palpable!

Only a minor investigation into what is known as the “prosperity” gospel reveals exactly this kind of twisted theology that places self on the throne. It also goes hand in hand with what is known as “hyper-grace” theology which refuses to deal properly with sin. Both of these streams converge in the Osteen gospel.

The Enlightenment Turn To The Subject

For some time now I have been documenting what is known as the “turn to the subject” or the “Copernican turn.” In short, the turn to the subject is the Enlightenment era rejection of the authority of the Church and the Bible, and an embracing of the self. The turn to the subject is explained well in the following quote:

It was, however, the modern “turn to the subject” that proved decisive. Kant’s call for “autonomy,” for the individual’s “release from a self-incurred tutelage” to such heteronymous authorities as the Bible and the Church, embodied the spirit of the Enlightenment. Increasingly, individual reason and conscience became the arbiters of religious truth. Although the Romantics rejected the appeal to autonomous “reason alone,” they nevertheless shifted the source of spiritual authority to the “religious self-consciousness,” that is, to religious experience. The entire nineteenth century can be viewed as an effort to resolve the increasingly problematic issue of authority. 2

So, what does the “turn to the subject” look like in the church in the twenty first century? I believe it manifests itself in the form of liberation theology, the social gospel, gay Christianity, the prosperity gospel, hyper-grace, just to name a few of its ill-effects!

 

1 Livingston, Fiorenza, Coakley, and Evans, Jr., Modern Christian Thought: The Twentieth Century, (Fortress Press: 2006), page 2.

The Victoria Osteen Gaffe Demonstrates Why Theology Matters!

The message from Victoria Osteen (VO) is that we worship God for ourselves. Here’s the quote:victoria-victoria-osteen

So, I just want to encourage everyone 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 ourself because God takes pleasure when we’re happy! That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy this morning. So I want you to know this morning, just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. 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?

[As of 12/11/17 this video is no longer available. However, here is a link to another article documenting this event.]

Why is this statement so obviously wrong and troubling? It is because it  takes our worship of God and the purpose for that worship and centers it in the self. What are some of the ramifications of such a theology? It makes our happiness the test of true worship. It says as long as I am happy, God is happy. VO said , “That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy this morning.”

To be fair, VO did make a follow-up statement a few hours after the video began to go viral:

God is all-powerful and does not require our worship or approval to be Who He is. God was God before we even existed. When we choose to worship Him and live in obedience to Him we do so for our own benefit, so that we may be in right standing with Him and enjoy His favor. Therefore, glorify Him in everything you do and let your life be worship to Him, so that one day He will say to you, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Unfortunately for VO, she did not help herself with this statement. Why? The seed of selfishness remains in her theology: “When we choose to worship Him and live in obedience to Him we do so for our own benefit…” It is the unabashed worship of self that so characterizes all of the Osteen “Your best life now” theology. Are there benefits to worshiping God? Absolutely! Does God want our lives to go well? Yes! But we worship God because He is worthy of worship; because in worshiping God we leave ourselves behind! The problem with the hyper-grace, prosperity theology is that it places self on the throne!

Role Models Or Not?

Miami Dade Police Department photo
Miami Dade Police Department photo

It is not uncommon to hear athletes, movie stars, and famous musicians opine their disagreement concerning their role model status. Charles Barkley may have put it best when he purportedly said,

“I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”

There is an important truth to acknowledge in Barkley’s statement (a statement that gets recycled, reformed, and freshly expressed in every generation). It is true that any parent who would allow their kids to emulate or be exposed to a person who is morally bankrupt (I am speaking in general terms here; I do not know the moral status of Charles Barkley) is foolish. It isn’t Charles Barkley’s fault (or Miley Cyrus’s, or Justin Bieber’s, or Ariana Grande’s or Alex Rodriguez’s, etceteraahh, etceteraahhh) if parent’s are foolish and negligent and themselves morally bankrupt. However, this does not let him or anyone of us off the hook.

Every person is an example of how one can live his or her life. What we do in public (and in private for that matter) represents who we really are! Only arrogance and moral ignorance would sincerely ask and expect people to compartmentalize their behavior and idolize them for their talents but make no comment on their corruption. We are all influencing those who come to an awareness of our choices and we are models available for emulation.

Perhaps what Barkley and the rest are really saying is, “Thank you for the money and the privilege but I don’t care if you or your children go to hell (either figuratively or literally). Give me money and I promise to entertain you, but don’t expect me to care if I see you lying bleeding in the alley.”

Forgetting the debate about a person’s privacy, what is done in public is fair game to be recorded, repeated, criticized, or imitated. And like it or not, our children, teenagers, and young adults are influenced by what they observe. And while it is a parent’s responsibility to protect and to lead their children, those in the public arena should care whether they are someone who endangers or edifies those who are following their examples.

ONE LAST THOUGHT: In our culture it seems that we send the message that perhaps it is not good for children to see certain things. We devise rating systems based on what is appropriate for children, teens, those who are seventeen and older, etc. But our ratings seem to imply that, as adults, we reach an age where everything is OK. But, barring some isolated examples, if it is not good for a young persons morals to observe bad behavior, it’s also not good for adults!
1 Read more at brainyquote.com

 

Former Baptist Bishop Becomes Pastor of ‘Inclusive’ Church after Marriage to Gay Partner – Christian News Blog

Here’s more “great” logic from another “pastor gone gay,” and a new twist on Luke 7:1-10!

According to Carrie Dedrick in a ChristianHeadlines.com article, Allyson D. Nelson Abrams (who was a bishop of a Baptist church and now is a bishop in a gay Metropolitan church) says:

“the Bible allows same-sex relationships according to Luke 7:1-10 and its reference to the love a man has for his servant.
‘I progressed in my theology and came to the point where I would love whichever came to me. I wasn’t just open to (a specific) gender, I was open to love in whatever way the Lord would bless me,” Abrams said. “People have the right to interpret scripture whatever way they please. I respect difference of opinions.'”

 

Wow! The Roman Centurian values his servant, and “bishop” Abrams says that means same-sex relationships are ok and we should just love whoever comes to us regardless of gender, and, for her finale, “People have a right to interpret scripture whatever way they please.”

 

Former Baptist Bishop Becomes Pastor of ‘Inclusive’ Church after Marriage to Gay Partner – Christian News Blog.

Clinics Who Don’t Perform Enough Abortions Are Chided

plannedparenthood108If this article is on the up and up, it brings to light one of the most shameful human atrocities of our times! Quotas for abortions? I can imagine how that from the warped minds of selfish Americans would spring the triumph of choice over responsibility, but at least some liberals at least have mouthed regret over abortion while kicking the decision back to the states and ultimately the individual. But quotas and concern, even threats of punishment to clinics not performing enough abortions? Almost 57,000,000 children have been aborted in America since Roe V. Wade!

 

Planned Parenthood Awards Clinic for Exceeding Abortion Quota – Christian News Blog.

Minister Ousted is Reinstated: More Compartmentalization

Here’s another example of Christians (so-called) trying to find solutions through compromise and compartmentalization. Somehow, it seems better to the United Methodists if they will put Schaefer in a liberal district of the United Methodist Church. So, as long as the people he is serving agree with him it’s ok?

 Isaiah 1:2-6

2 Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the LORD has spoken:  “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.  3 The ox knows his master,  the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know,  my people do not understand.”  4  Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers,  children given to corruption!  They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel  and turned their backs on him.   5  Why should you be beaten anymore?  Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted.  6  From the sole of your foot to the top of your head  there is no soundness— only wounds and welts  and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil.

 

See also: Failing the Smell Test . . .

Oh great! Kirsten Powers gets saved just in time to help the gay Christian Movement!

Kirsten Powers, Fox News analyst and newly saved former agnostic/atheist has weighed in on the gay Christian issue (you can read about her conversion here).

Citing Michael Vines’ God and the Gay Christian, and James Brownson’s Bible, Gender, Sexuality, she thinks maybe the church should ask itself if God really intends for the church to reject homosexuality, and thus, gay Christianity.

Don’t get me wrong: I am happy that Ms. Powers has found Jesus, if indeed she has. But before Bible believing, traditional evangelical Christians go too far in their endorsement of her, they should realize that Ms. Powers is not an evangelical. Not if her article is any indication.

Her article shows no wrestling with the issue, not does it consider the traditional evangelical opinion. Instead, she offers up the usual gay Christian talking points saying,

“The Church has done this before on slavery, the solar system and divorce.”

Really? Have you studied this Ms. Powers? There is simply no meaningful parallel to be found in a comparison of the church’s stand on the four issues of slavery, the solar system, divorce, and homosexuality. Perhaps it is your liberal, Episcopalian roots that are guiding you in this case.

Powers simply takes Vines and Brownson at face value with their claims to a “high view” of Scripture. Funny, in the past a high view of Scripture, at least among evangelicals, meant that you believed it meant what it said.

Powers opens her article with a reference to,

“the emergence of conservative Christians who say orthodox believers can support life-long, monogamous gay relationships without undermining their commitment to biblical authority.”

Conservative Christians don’t support gay relationships in any form. If they did they, by definition, would not be conservative.

As I said before, I am glad for Powers’ salvation. But she is unqualified to speak for the church or to speak into this issue. You can read Powers’ article here:

Kirsten Powers: Christianity’s new look on gays.

You can also read here on Gay Christian Logic (surely the oxymorons abound in that title)!

Read about other so-called evangelicals that have failed the smell test recently.

Between Real and Ideal

 

The Existence of the ideal is evidence of its possibility…

The existence of the ideal is evidence of its possibility.

Ever been inspired by a movie because of the values it portrayed? The story was challenging and beautiful, moving and uplifting. Then you come back to “reality” and realize that the players are just actors, the movie is based on a novel, and you realize that it is just a story. This self-inflicted “balance” between idealism and reality is aided by our own exposure to shattered dreams, burst bubbles, and unmet expectations. It’s what Rod Tidwell (from the movie Jerry Maguire) meant when, referring to single moms considering a new relationship, he said:

“They’ve been to the circus, you know what I’m saying? They’ve been to the puppet show and they’ve seen the strings.”

We face this type of exposure to reality all the time. In fact, it begins to seem that everything and everyone has a seamy underside;

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