You may know of Pastor Hans Fiene from his uproariously funny and theologically profound Lutheran Satire videos. He now has another forum, The Federalist, in which he has published the definitive critique of mega-pastor Joel Osteen. His wife has created an uproar for saying that worship should be about our happiness rather than God’s glory. But, says Pastor Fiene, the Osteens have said so much worse.
From Hans Fiene, The Osteens’ Donald Sterling Moment:
In their sermons and books, both Joel and Victoria Osteen give full-throated endorsement to the prosperity gospel, a theology which states that those enduring hardships, poverty, and sickness have only their lack of faith and confidence to blame for their suffering. There are, of course, some enormous theological problems with this Christianized version of “The Secret,” where you obtain God’s blessings by speaking them into existence. The first is that it has no basis in the Scriptures and conveniently ignores all of the words that Jesus speaks about the question of suffering, the cost of discipleship, and the blessedness of persecution. The second is that it offers nothing but despair to those who are faithfully enduring the crosses Christ has given them to bear. And the third is that such a doctrine simply doesn’t square with the lives of those who were the first to tell us about God’s blessings in Christ (self-promotion alert).
So is it bad for Victoria Osteen to encourage us to think of God as the “Treat Yo Self” Tom Haverford to our name-it-and-claim-it Donna Meagle? Most definitely. But surely it’s a few notches lower on the pole of theological indefensibility than speaking words that, one, say the exact opposite of what the Bible says; two, belittle suffering Christians with the insensitivity a man horking down a hot fudge sundae three inches from the face of a starving child; and, three, imply that St. Peter, St. Paul, and even Jesus Himself must have been really lousy Christians who couldn’t unlock God’s potential blessings.But what really makes the Osteens’ books and sermons worse than the things they say are the things they don’t say. The Osteens talk about living your best life now and unlocking God’s earthly blessings. But the Osteens don’t talk about the best life won for us in the blood of the Lamb and God’s eternal blessings for those who cling to Christ in faith. The Osteens doesn’t talk about sin. They don’t talk about forgiveness or redemption or atonement. They don’t talk about heaven and hell or the crucifixion and the resurrection. Do you know why a teetotaler’s favorite drinking game is “Take a Shot Every Time Joel Osteen Talks About Jesus?” Because Joel Osteen doesn’t talk about Jesus.
Apart from this particular topic, notice how Rev. Fiene, an LCMS pastor, writes–combining humor with seriousness, originality and orthodoxy–and how well he communicates. Here is a Christian author (and video cartoonist) worth our continued attention.