That’s right, people. Joel Osteen, the man, the myth, the amazing sensation that we all love to love, is back in action. He has a new book coming out soon, called “It’s Your Time”.
You can read some of the promotional material for this book over at the White Horse Inn, along with their reactions to it.
Apparently this latest piece of work is more of the same vintage Osteen that we have all come to know and love.
I think that at this stage in the game it is safe to say that Osteen has heard his critics. His publishers and handlers have surely heard his critics by now. (Of course they are also hearing the CHA-CHING of the cash register drawer, probably a little louder than they are hearing the critics, but that is the subject of another diatribe best left for another day.)
A couple of years ago it might have been fair to say that Osteen’s critics were misunderstanding him, that they were not seeing the whole picture of what Osteen is all about, and that if you were to see the whole picture of what Osteen is all about you would recognize that Christ and the Gospel are truly at the center of everything he says and does.
But now? Uhhh…not so much. You see, by this stage of the game, Osteen and his handlers have surely heard the critics and the haters who are saying that he’s not preaching the Gospel and that he’s leading people into the ditch of prosperity teaching. If there was any evidence to the contrary, they surely would have brought it out by now. If in fact it was true that Jesus and the Gospel were at the center of all that Osteen is about, but that in order to recognize this one needs time to see the whole picture of what Osteen is all about…well, we’ve had time. It has now been at least four or five years since Osteen first burst onto the scene. And yet the Osteen we’re seeing now is apparently the same Osteen that we’ve all come to know and love.
So please, people. Let’s stop talking about how Osteen has a method to his apparent madness and is slipping it past you, keeping Christ and the Gospel under the radar because he’s so savvy. Let’s stop talking about how Osteen draws you in with that slick nice-guy appeal and then challenges you to a life of full-on, radical, committed discipleship to Jesus Christ once he’s got you in his clutches. It’s not happening, people. If it were, don’t you think we would have seen it by now?
At least let’s be honest about what’s happening here. The guy is a damn good motivational speaker. Probably the best on the planet. He will give you what you need to walk into your next job interview with confidence, or to do what you need to do to make your marriage work, or to face health challenges–or even the challenges of finding a decent parking space at the mall–with confidence. I may be getting curmudgeonly in my old age, but I don’t think I’m quite enough of a curmudgeon yet to object to that.
But please let’s not ramp it up to saying that this gravy train that Osteen writes of is the Christian life, or that the god who presides over this gravy train is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Did Jesus Christ come to earth and die on a Roman cross so that we could all have good parking spaces at the mall? So that we could close the deal and sell the house? So that we could get the nice cushy job making obscene amounts of money? Don’t think so.
You say “God is on our side. He loves us. He wants to be our friend.” True enough. But how on earth is he more on our side than on the side of the people over in Sudan living on $10 a day? “Well, if they would get the book and read it and put the things Osteen says into practice, then they could have the good life too.” Man, please.
Let’s be honest about this, people. Let’s just come right out and say, “I want my nice, comfortable, cushy life. And I believe that Jesus wants this for me too. Osteen gives me a way to believe this, so of course I want to believe him.”
By the way, here is Mark Driscoll on Joel Osteen. I’m with him–you can’t believe everything you hear just because it’s on Christian radio.