This post isn’t about Joel Osteen. This post is about the pastors who preach this false form of the Gospel.
“When I was a kid I could tell the difference between neighborhood kids who wanted to be my friend from the neighborhood kids who were my friends so that they could play with my toys. Joel and Joyce are the latter.”
– Rick Henderson
The other day, I went to church with a friend and, nearing the end of the sermon they did an altar call… Honestly, one of the less progressive things about me is that I don’t mind them or megachurches.
There was music, there were lights, and, of course, there was a young gifted preacher also wearing skinny jeans. Again, none of this is what really bothered me. What bothered me was when the pastor mentioned that “God would heal them, deliver to them, and bring prosperity to them if they dedicated their lives to following him.”
A rendition of this is a quote I pulled from Osteen’s book, Your Best Life Now, where he says verbatim:
“If you want to reap financial blessings, you must sow financial seeds in the lives of others … If you want to see healing and restoration come to your life, go out and help somebody else get well…”
At this particular service, there was a build up and, he even did a count down, i.e. pastor saying, “if you’re wanting to dedicate or even re-dedicate your life to Christ here and now on the count of three I want you to raise your hand…” And, when no one raised their hands, he lied and pretended people were raising their hands by saying out loud “I see your hand…” or “praise God for the hand that just went up…”
Now, this is not just manipulatively dangerous but, it’s just outright wrong – not just the lying but, the passive coercion of putting expectations on God in which he never made Himself. What was it that the Bible labeled those making false promises as…?
What shocks me the most is that in 2019, we still have pastors making blatant and unbiblical remarks.
And, I mean, even if it wasn’t the information day and age, to me, this usually means one of two things:
- The pastor has never read scripture (in all of its entirety).
- Or, the pastor has read and studied scripture but, doesn’t give AF about their contradictions.
The latter of the two is what’s most disgustingly dangerous about lending platform to the sociopath or megalomaniac.
The Research Even Backs This Up…
Psychology professor and co-author of this study on the effect the prosperity gospel has on people, Geoff MacDonald says, “The prosperity gospel ‘sort of primes people to want to part with their money by making them excited and optimistic…’”
The abstract of this very study goes on to highlight that “The findings revealed that prosperity gospel messages generate heightened optimistic bias (Experiments 1 and 2), high arousal positive affect (Experiment 2), and financial risk-taking (Experiment 1).
Within this particular study what most interestingly stood out were, “The results also indicat[ing] that even a secularized version of prosperity gospel leads to positivity bias, for both theists and atheists. This suggests the effectiveness of prosperity gospel lies in its ability to evoke positive states rather than communicate specifically religious teachings.”
If this research isn’t enough to convince us here are three more reasons…