We recently posted an article about Joel and Victoria Osteen being called heretics that went viral and think you should read our friend Chris Widener’s answer to the question “Why do you dislike Joel Osteen?”
A Facebook friend emailed me the other day and asked, “Why do you dislike Joel Osteen?” I figured if he was thinking it some others may be as well. So I thought I would answer that question. First of all, I don’t dislike him. I don’t even know him. There are only a handful of people that I dislike in this old world. That being said, I am not a fan. Why? Pretty simple actually. I find him to be a teller of half truths. He only tells the good and happy side of God. Does God want us to be happy? I think he enjoys it when we are happy. Does God have a plan for our lives? Yes, I believe that. Does he want us to have good marriages and relationships? Yep! And Joel is great at telling that side of things. But there is another side of God. Let me illustrate with an analogy that I think most of us would understand.
Is it good for a dad to take his kids to get ice cream and buy them new bikes? Yes, of course. Do we want our children to be happy? Certainly! And that is PART of what it means to be a parent. But don’t we all know that parent who does nothing but spoil his or her children, always giving them everything they want and never disciplining the kids? Don’t we find ourselves thinking, “What that kid needs is a good old fashioned spanking!”
Being a parent requires the good/fun side and it also includes the opposite. There are times we give and bless our children and there are times we discipline them, give them a stern talking to and send them to their rooms.
God is the same way. There are passages – many of them – that talk of joy and happiness. But there are also a multitude of passages that talk about God disciplining us, chastising us and calling us to repent of our sins.
Many people lament the “fire and brimstone preachers.” I do too. That kind of preaching is out of balance and only focuses on the negative. Joel is just the opposite.
A pastor needs to teach his congregation the FULL message of God. Sometimes they are to be encouraged and sometimes they are to be challenged.
One other note. I also find this happy Christianity to be uniquely American. Imagine this “God just wants you to be happy. Just say happy things and they will come to pass,” message almost anywhere else in the world. This message would be laughed at in Iraq and Syria where people are being beheaded. It would be laughed at in western Africa countries where people go to bed every night wondering if people will show up, burn down their huts, rape their wives and children and cut their heads off with machetes. But it plays well here in America where the happiness of the “self” is the ultimate goal.
Ironically, the last sermon I gave in a church was a couple months ago and it was titled “How to Be a Happy, Hopeful Christian.” I believe that is part of the message of the bible. But there is another side as well. Together they give the full message of God and lead us to a better life.
Today I hope you are both challenged AND encouraged in your life! Chris Widener
Chris Widener is an American author, businessman, public speaker and television host. He is member of the Republican Party and ran a campaign for Senate in 2010 in Washington State, which was halted before the primaries. He has written 12 books, including The Angel Inside: Michelangelo’s Secrets for Following Your Passion and Finding the Work You Love, The Art of Influence, and The Leadership Rules.
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