Joel Osteen's Reaction To Tropical Storm Harvey Reveals The Pitfalls Of Prosperity Gospel

Preaching that God rewards in material excess inevitably ostracizes the "have-nots."
08/30/2017 09:11 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2017

Twitter is dragging Joel Osteen. And he deserves it. He deserves every nasty tweet, every bit of bad PR ― all of it, including these:

Religion has gone from Jesus telling his disciples “Truly I tell you, it is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” as he walked about the unwashed masses tending to the sick and feeding the poor, to “I will open my doors of my church when all the other shelters have filled up.” And it’s easy to hate on Joel Osteen with his shampoo commercial hair, thousands of dollars in capped teeth, a mansion a Saudi prince would say was too ostentatious, and best selling books that are basically a collection of inspirational sayings from office wall art.

But the real culprit is prosperity gospel.

Prosperity gospel’s tenet suggesting having faith, tithing, and donating to the church will bring wealth and prosperity to you is a big bunch of malarkey. Plant seeds of money and in return money, wealth, and prosperity will be sown, preachers say. It’s the Trump University of religious beliefs. It’s like a casino without the bright lights and loud sounds of the slot machines. It’s a ponzi scheme that Bernie Maddoff would have applauded.

And with prosperity gospel, you don’t have to hide your wealth. Flaunting it is how you receive more donations. Joel Osteen lives in a $10.5 million mansion. Creflo dollar has two Rolls Royces, a private jet and three multi-million dollar mansions. TD Jakes’ net worth is north of $140 million. Bishop David Oyedo’s church, Winners’ Chapel, seats 50,000 people and his net worth is $150 million. People seem to want a rich pastor. They truly believe that these guys deserve to have millions, and you can receive millions too if you give them your hard earned money.

But that’s the real issue. Not everyone can be successful. We all can’t and don’t have million dollar mansions like Osteen or Pat Robertson. So does that mean we haven’t prayed hard enough? What about the child who has leukemia? Or the person who lost their job? Or the thousands of people who had every possession swept away in a flood? These people didn’t do anything to deserve the problems they are currently having. So where is God’s favor for them? 

Prosperity gospel implies that if you aren’t prosperous, it’s because God has not blessed you. And that makes it easier to turn people away as Osteen did. If TD Jakes and the rest deserve to be rich, then the people who aren’t deserve to be poor. If these people are getting what they deserve, then the rest of us are under no obligation to help them, right? No need to feed, or clothe, or shelter them. The rise in the maliciousness of people and their utter disdain for the poor has coincided with the rise of the prosperity gospel.

So while Osteen is facing a PR crisis, the rest of the peddlers of prosperity gospel should take heed. To quote Ghandi  ― “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

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