Jesus wants you to drive a Bentley? Religious scholar Reza Aslan calls Joel Osteen a “charlatan” and slams America’s sick love affair with the prosperity gospel.
Aslan, speaking at the 2014 Indian Summer Festival in Vancouver, discussed his book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. During his talk, the University of California at Riverside professor went off on Joel Osteen and the prosperity gospel currently so popular in the U.S. Aslan said:
The fastest growing Protestant movement in North America is this movement that is referred to as the prosperity gospel. This is the gospel preached by people like Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes — and when I say people, I mean charlatans. The argument of the prosperity gospel, if I can put it flippantly, is that Jesus wants you to drive a Bentley. That is basically what the argument is. That what Jesus wants for you is material prosperity, and that if you literally give, you will literally be given tenfold. That’s not a metaphor, as it is in most churches. It is literal. You give me $10 and Jesus will give you $100.
This is as profoundly an unscriptural interpretation of Jesus that exists. I mean, if there is one thing that is just so clear cut and just not open to interpretation at all of any kind when it comes to Jesus’s message, it is his condemnation of wealth.
And yet, not only does this version of Christianity exist, as I say, it is honestly the fastest growing version of Protestant evangelical Christianity in North America. That’s because Jesus can be whatever you want him to be, and the Christian message can be whatever you want it to be.
Joel Osteen is a wildly popular televangelist, and the Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church located in Houston, Texas. Osteen’s church is the largest Protestant church in the U.S., and his ministry is seen by over 7 million broadcast media viewers weekly and over 20 million monthly in over 100 nations around the world.
The prosperity gospel, or prosperity theology, is a popular Christian doctrine that promotes the idea that financial donations to Christian ministries will always increase the faithful’s material wealth.
Last March over $600,000 in cash and check donations were stolen from Osteen’s Lakewood Church. All of the money was from one weekend’s donations.
(H/T Raw Story)