Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Chicago Tribune | `Smiling preacher' packs the pews, but message gives his critics pause

Chicago Tribune | `Smiling preacher' packs the pews, but message gives his critics pause: "In his book, as well as his sermons, Osteen preaches about how being positive will result in blessings from God. Osteen writes: 'Let me encourage you to raise your expectations; start seeing yourself receiving good things. Expect the favor of God.'

Michael Horton, a professor of apologetics and theology at Westminster Seminary California, said Osteen trivializes the Christian faith by viewing God as a being who exists solely for our personal happiness. Osteen is part of a growing 'prosperity gospel' movement, he said, where followers are instructed to pray to God for health, wealth and happiness.

'In this religion, God is not worshiped. He is used,' said Horton, a minister in the United Reformed Churches of North America.

'Joel Osteen uses the Bible each week like it's a collection of fortune cookies that can be opened to suit any of your needs or goals in life. The Bible is a story about the redemption of Christ, not a timeless set of principles for success.'

Osteen said such criticism unfairly fails to look at his message as a whole.

'When I talk about prosperity and better things, I'm not just talking about financial success,' he said. 'I'm talking about prosperity in your marriage, prosperity in your health, and with your kids. I don't think God wants us to be at the bottom of the totem pole. He wants us to have a better life than our parents did.'"

A lot of people have been recommending Osteen's book to me. I must say I'm very skeptical.

And my former seminary prof Mike Horton gets some love from the Chi Trib.

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