Video surfaced a few days ago of Victoria Osteen, wife of famed “pastor” Joel Osteen, saying some rather heretical things to the “congregation” at Lakewood “Church.”
Sidebar: I’m only one sentence into this post and already I’ve been forced to use sarcastic quotes three times. For simplicity’s sake, I will, from here on out, drop the quotes with the understanding that the quotes are implied. Joel Osteen is only a pastor because anyone can call themselves a pastor these days, and his church is only a church because anything can call itself a church these days. I happen to be of the old fashioned school of thought that believes a pastor should be, in some ways, distinguishable from Tony Robbins or Oprah, and a church should be, in some ways, distinguishable from a basketball arena on game day. I’m not saying that all churches need to be adorned with stained glass windows and incense (although I’m a fan of both), but I am saying that maybe all churches should have, like, a cross or something somewhere, maybe. God forbid a house of worship be arranged in such a way as to make it clear that we are specifically worshipping Jesus Christ and not the smiley fellow on stage giving the vaguely spiritual pep talk.
In the clip, Mrs. Osteen implores the audience to “realize that when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God… we’re doing it for ourselves.” As her proud husband nods approvingly, Osteen continues. “Do good for your own self. Do it 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?”
Amen! What wonderful blasphemy! Worship God for yourself. Do good works for yourself. Take up your cross, suffer the slings and arrows of the Enemy, and die with Christ for yourself. (OK, she didn’t say that last part, but only because the Osteens have a strict “don’t talk about Jesus” preaching policy).
In more primitive times they burned heretics at the stake. Now we greet the blasphemers with applause and multi-million dollar book deals. I’m not sure if the latter response is any more enlightened than the former, but both are wrong.
This is obviously an indefensible teaching, and one that does not require more “context” to be understood. “Do good for your own self.” A definitive, complete, profoundly disordered statement. Rooted in the Idolatry of Self, it betrays a pagan attitude which positions the Self as the Ultimate Good, the Final Purpose. All things — even God Himself — must revolve around the great and powerful Me. In the Osteens’ version of things, God exists to serve us, just as we exist to serve ourselves. You act virtuously for your own sake, because it brings you happiness. Never mind what Christ said in Matthew, when He told us to “let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven.” Here, He seems to state that we act with righteousness and virtue in order to glorify God, but Mrs. Osteen thinks that Jesus is complicating the equation. Just shine your light for your own sake. Forget about God. Keep it simple, folks.
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