Ben Witherington & Joel Osteen

kinnon —  April 3, 2006 — 6 Comments

Asbury Theological Seminary Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Dr. Ben Witherington responds to this New York Times article on Joel Osteen:

Again and again in the first book, Mr. Osteen exhorts readers to shun negativity and develop “a prosperous mindset” as a way of drawing God’s favor. He tells the story of a passenger on a cruise ship who fed himself on cheese and crackers before realizing that sumptuous meals were included. “Friend, I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of those cheese and crackers!,” Mr. Osteen writes. “It’s time to step up to God’s dining table.”

Or, as he also puts it: “God wants you to be a winner, not a whiner.”

Witherington responds:

…it involves a fundamental replacement of what the Bible actually has to say about wealth, with what our culture says about wealth and prosperity. And of course when you preach a message that is heard as saying “God wants you rich” or is heard as saying “if you give generously to God (i.e. our ministry) he will repay you many times over”), then of course the implication is that the Gospel message is really all about us, and ways to get God to fulfill not merely our needs and desires but even our conspicuously consumptive dreams. But is God really a nurturer of a vision of life that says its all about me and my material success?

Perhaps Doc Searls could arrange for Osteen to spend some time with Pastor Sayo Ajiboye – to get a more global, biblical perspective on what the Bible actually teaches.

Read all of Witherington’s post here. You might also find this response interesting from a pastor in Costa Mesa, CA.
[HT: BHT]

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kinnon

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

6 responses to Ben Witherington & Joel Osteen

  1. Knowing that some people continue to preach prosperity doctrines is amazing enough in itself. The fact that so many are still swallowing it is incredibly sad.

    Reply
  2. david gulledge April 28, 2006 at 9:17 am

    you came to my church last weekend, St marks in burlington i was wondering if you could send me an e-mail that has a little info about yourself so i can have some 1st hand info about you for my 7th grade ELA author project. By the way i realy enjoyed your service. your friend david

    Reply
  3. Disappointed in His Followers July 29, 2006 at 11:30 pm

    If Christians simply spent their efforts in a combined ministry, they would win more souls for Christ.
    Joel Osteen simply states that you need to maintain a positive attitude. We must remember the Bible talks about prosperous people like Job.
    I am deeply troubled that you would have a problem with someone spreading a doctrine of positive thought which is much more likely to influence others than your doctrine of condemning others. I will pray for you!

    Reply
  4. Wow. Your cogent argument is stunning. How could I possibly argue with that.

    Of course, I never would have thought of Job as the best example of “positive confession.” But maybe that’s just because of my “doctrine of condemning others.”

    Thanks for stopping by, DIHF. (Is that your real name?)

    Reply
  5. Since Joel spent much of his early ministry among the impoverished people of India, I think he’d love to respond. Most criticize Joel but know very little about him. Dr. Witherington, whom I know, shouldn’t throw “scholastic” stones…

    Reply
  6. Since Joel spent much of his early ministry among the impoverished people of India, I think he’d love to respond. Most criticize Joel but know very little about him. Dr. Witherington, whom I know, shouldn’t throw “scholastic” stones…

    Reply

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