Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Today I got spammed with an invitation to preorder Joel Osteen's new book, "Becoming a Better You"

It said:

Learn seven keys to improving your life everyday including:

  • Keep pressing forward.
  • Be positive towards yourself.
  • Develop better relationships.
  • Form better habits.
  • Embrace the place where you are.
  • Develop your inner life.
  • Stay passionate about life

(Excuse me while I just gag)

I guess my major problem with Joel Osteen is that he believes, and teaches, that the only way to get to heaven is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, thus completely writing off the nearly 5 billion people in the world who don't, and never will, have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I suppose it's fairly safe to assume that he thinks those 5 billion are going to hell. Bummer for them. For a lot of them, hell probably can't be a lot worse than this was.

There is the other little problem that he doesn't seem to embrace the dark side reality, inside or outside of christendom. Where's the take up your cross, deny yourself, sweat blood and die, dragons hanging around in delivery rooms to eat up newborn gods side of things? One hell of a long way outside the former houston astrodome, you can bet on that.


Megs said...

i like the idea of being positive towards oneself, embracing where one is, focusing on one's inner life.

Bummer that these good concepts have to come in a 'seven keys to' kind of cliche!

What if Jesus loves everybody, and they get to go to heaven, whether they've experienced a Western 21st century 'personal relationship with Jesus Christ' or not?

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water!!

Love you,

Joe said...

I think you've mistaken inauthentic and consumer-driven modern christianity for something it isn't. Of course, it is an easy mistake to make.

As I am generally action motivated, I'm not interested in all this touchy-feely crap and the pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die attitude that seems to ignore the fact that 90% of the world are having a shitty life in the here and now.

Following Jesus is not about Hillsongs, or being Purpose Driven or reciting the right kind of formulaic prayers or believing the right bits of theology. If that is all it is, forget it, I'm not interested.

Jesus was the counter-argument to all those people who tell you that songs and lofty feelings take you closer to God. They don't. The way to God is the sacrificial lifestyle - the one that gives when there is nothing left, loves the unlovely, does the impossible, believes the unbelievable, keeps going even if the path leads to the indignity of the Cross.

I'm not interested in who goes to heaven quite honestly. If God is good, he will judge everyone fairly. If he isn't good then there is no meaning in the universe.

I suspect many will get another chance - particularly those who never had a chance in this life. I hope so.

Benjamin Ady said...

oh dear. I haven't thrown the baby out with the bath water. See my post over at justiceandcompassion.com I realize there's a different side to church. A really nice prof over at SPU named Jen recently told us that according to her research, many evangelicals who leave the church ultimately come back, but that those who were fundamanentalists and leave, the return rate is much lower. Still, I can't see how I can altogether leave. As Pi Patel said about Hinduism, Christianity informs the landscape of my spirituality and my story. At this point in time it would be impossible to escape altogether. Perhaps that's why I find these bits of christianity so enormously offputting--at some level I still see myself as on the inside. Always hardst on myself, and the group I'm in, ya know. That's why they keep kicking me out I guess =)

Justin said...

IT might be that you and Joel Osteen could be mates:

Youtube HERE and HERE.

Benjamin Ady said...

not at all. Joel got ... roundly scolded by his constituency for what he said on that show, and he apologized/retracted HERE

Benjamin Ady said...

and this, from here: KING: We're back. On this program you angered some evangelicals two years ago when you did not say that accepting Jesus is the only way to heaven. This is the birth of Jesus coming up Monday. You still believe that?

J. OSTEEN: No. I believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven.

KING: So you misspoke?

J. OSTEEN: I thought that I said that. I said I believe in a personal relationship with Christ. You go back and pull things out of the transcript, it could look like that, but the foundation of the Christian faith is that Christ came as a sacrifice so that we can receive forgiveness.

KING: So you don't believe, you don't go to heaven?

J. OSTEEN: I believe it's true what you're saying, that you have to have a relationship with Christ. I mean, the "Scripture" is so clear. The most famous "Scripture" is God sent his son to, you know, forgive the world and if you believe in him, you will have everlasting life. And another place it talks about Jesus said, you can't get to the father unless through me. So I do believe that. It's the foundation of our faith.

KING: So was that out of context two years ago ...

J. OSTEEN: I think that being young and ...

KING: Did I trick you?

J. OSTEEN: No, I never felt like that whatsoever. I just think -- and I was first to admit, if anybody took it like that, I'll admit an oversight.