Friday, June 03, 2011

Saying Well the Obvious About Osteen

For those who rightly despise Joel Osteen, Baylor English prof Greg Garrett has a nicely turned-out "open letter" of rebuke at Patheos. There's no great insight here, just a nicely crafted statement of what all who understand the Gospel understand about Osteen. As in this:

You and other Prosperity Gospel preachers advance a vision of God that is transactional: if you do this, then God will do that. He has to, in fact. Because a verse here or there in the Bible says so, however little it reflects God's actual redemptive work in the world.
And I'm here to tell you, Sir, in the same language I use with anyone who imagines we can be in a transactional relationship with God, that this isn't what Christian faith is. Praying the right prayer often enough to get what you want, believing really hard in Jesus to get what you want are not true to the Christian story, or to logic. To imagine that you, or your followers, or the person out in the bookstore or TV land who is exposed to your message somehow influences the God of the Universe, the Creator of All That Is, by his or her personal actions is not belief in God.
It's belief in magic. Put your hands together, say a few faithful words, and the Universe will give you what you ask.


Micah said...

You don't believe we can influence the God of the Universe with our actions?

Say "control" and I'm with you. But "influence?"

Q said...

Well yes, but what does swnid think about Rob Bell?

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Right: "influence" was poorly chosen to express what the rest of the paragraph says.

Brian Gronewoller said...

This type of Christianity seems very similar to Greek/Roman religious practice related to the Pantheon (especially as seen in the Iliad - both sides are sacrificing continuously and in increasingly grandiose manners in order to win the support of the gods and thus win the battle). There's a great word for this type of practice, but I can't remember it at the moment (nor find it on Google).