Monday, September 8, 2014

The Irony of Osteen

In past couple of weeks Christians have been “jumping on the bandwagon” (including yours truly) and condemning recent remarks from Victoria Osteen about what’s “really” going on when we worship God. Major bloggers and Christian media outlets have included scathing remarks from fellow Christians calling the Osteens heretics and warning well intentioned Christians from following their ministry. But I find it more than a bit ironic that Protestants are warning ANYBODY about following another Protestant. I’m actually not surprised, THUS the title for today’s blog.

Several months ago I was having a discussion with a Lutheran Pastor (and friend) about a trend I found disconcerting. We were acknowledging that many Christians hop from Church to Church until they “finally find a Church” with which they agree. At the extreme pinnacle of this trend exists entire parishes that, if they find themselves at odds with the Pastor, whom THEY hired in the first place, they either fire the Pastor, OR leave to start their own Church. This was called, “The inherited sin of the Reformation,” by my friend, the Lutheran Pastor. My response to her was, “If you really believe what you are saying, that means you have to return to the Orthodox Church. You know that, right?” Of course she, a bit caught off guard by my boldness, did not agree with my conclusion.

The IRONY....

The inherited sin of the Reformation, a statement with which I can agree, carried to its logical conclusion is: Every Christian has the ultimate right to determine for themselves the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and Faith of the Christian Church. This practice is what gives “legitimacy” to as estimated 43,000 Christian denominations worldwide. Take away the individual right to “your own” interpretation, and all you are left with, is the Orthodox Church. No surprise there.....

This is why I find it dripping with irony that ANY Protestant would dare suggest that the Osteens are heretics. By what authority does this condemnation rest? With their OWN private interpretation; thus the vicious cycle repeats itself with the number of denominations growing every day.

I have been asked why I am so worried about Joel Osteen and other like him. In short, my immediate concern is for those Orthodox Christians in my parish who “follow” Osteen and others, which allows the heresy to trickle into their own faith practice and ideals. It isn’t uncommon to find Orthodox Christians defending Osteen with comments such as, “His messages are GREAT! I follow him every day,” or “His is a great motivational speaker. God wants us to stay motivated, doesn’t he?” Well....yes and no. The sort of motivation God has in mind is for us to be motivated to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, rather than building up riches. The Gospel is replete with references to sin in regard to focusing on the self. If motivation is focused on the self, it is not heavenly motivation.

So where do we go from here? We are called by God to test all spirits to determine if they are from God. How should we test them? Just like Saint Paul, the ancient Church, and every council since Pentecost. If a teaching is not totally consistent with the teachings of the Holy Apostles, it should be disregarded and avoided. As I like to say, if Saint Paul was required to verify his teachings with the Holy Apostles, and alter them where necessary, then so should we be required.

So where does that leave Osteen? It is obvious his teachings are not Orthodox. At the very least, Orthodox Christians should avoid paying ANY attention to him and his false teachings. At the most, we should help our friends, if we indeed love them, to step away from his incorrect teaching of the Gospel of Christ. In the end, we will all be accountable to God for our teachings and beliefs. Otherwise, God is going to cal to us, “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” (Revelation 3.16 – more irony......the opposite result of John 3.16) 

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