Osteen hasn’t necessarily tailored his message for the downturn. Instead, he has continued his feel-good preaching, his exhortations to focus on the positive and banish negative thoughts, his reminders that God wants you to have a good job, a beautiful home, and decent cash flow. His vast ministry has become, in effect, shelter from the storm. “God wants you to have a big life,” Osteen reminds his flock. “That is his blessing. God has a big dream for your life.
The writer ends the 4,000 word article with this:
The highlight of every service is when Osteen asks those who are willing to turn their lives over to Jesus to stand up in the vast arena and make their commitment right then and there. It is an inspiring moment, filled with raised Bibles and palms outstretched to heaven; Osteen and some of the congregation are in tears. If we have been suffering, if we have been in pain, if we have dealt with financial insecurity, then this standing up, this raising of hands to heaven, this simple vow of faith, Osteen assures us, will start us on the road to wellness and prosperity.
For a moment, as the choir sings, “When the battle is over / and the fighting is done / we’ll lay down our armor / the victories all won,” and the orange, red, and purple stage lights are flashing, and a halolike luminescence surrounds Osteen as he promises to free us from our fears, to lift us above our doubts, to lead us to prosperity and joy, I think about my own worries, my debts, my career, my woes.
How tempting it would be to just stand and turn my will and life over to Jesus if, in exchange, I will be led down a righteous path of prosperity, taken in hand by Jesus, and Joel, and delivered to my gilded acre of the American dream. Yes, yes, why shouldn’t I stand? Because who am I not to want to be saved? Who doesn’t need a little bit of Joel in their life, tonight, every night, forever, leading us from this dark place to our promised land? Together, hands joined, shoulder to shoulder, we will march forward into our glorious future. Delete the negative thoughts, Joel preaches. Yes, yes, delete them. [emphasis added]
My only editorial comment on this would be attached to the photo to the right. I appreciate the attempt at truth in advertising in this shot from a bookstore display, but I do think Joel’s theology is a lot more than 30% off. (And yes, I did use this shot and thought previously. It’s the summer – repeats are allowed.)
Check out this shot from Ed Stetzer’s TwitPics from earlier in the week, as Ed wandered the International Christian Retail Show.
There’s a bit of theme running through ae this week. See if you can find it.