"Rick Warren, whose book The Purpose Driven Life has outsold Osteen's by a ratio of 7 to 1, finds the very basis of Prosperity laughable. "This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy?", he snorts. "There is a word for that: baloney. It's creating a false idol. You don't measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn't everyone in the church a millionaire?"
Baloney? I have a stronger word, Rick. Wanna know what it is?
"Who would want to get in on something where you're miserable, poor, broke and ugly and you just have to muddle through until you get to heaven?" asks Joyce Meyer, a popular television preacher and author often lumped in the Prosperity Lite camp. "I believe God wants to give us nice things."
So now it's a sin to be ugly? Thus saith Joyce Meyer, beauty queen!
"Yet he (Jesus) spent far more time among the poor than the rich, and a majority of scholars quote two of his most direct comments on wealth: the passage in the Sermon on the Mount in which he warns, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth ... but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven"; and his encounter with the "rich young ruler" who cannot bring himself to part with his money, after which Jesus famously comments, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
It's all there in black and white. Unless you have the red letter edition.
"I don't think I've ever preached a sermon about money," he says a few hours later. He and Victoria meet with TIME in their pastoral suite, once the Houston Rockets' locker and shower area but now a zone of overstuffed sofas and imposing oak bookcases. "Does God want us to be rich?" he asks. "When I hear that word rich, I think people say, 'Well, he's preaching that everybody's going to be a millionaire.' I don't think that's it." Rather, he explains, "I preach that anybody can improve their lives. I think God wants us to be prosperous. I think he wants us to be happy. To me, you need to have money to pay your bills. I think God wants us to send our kids to college. I think he wants us to be a blessing to other people. But I don't think I'd say God wants us to be rich. It's all relative, isn't it?" The room's warm lamplight reflects softly off his crocodile shoes."
I'll bet that crocodile wishes he had read Osteen's book. Maybe he'd still be alive and not a pair of shoes.
"Poor people like Prosperity," says Stephen Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University. "They hear it as aspirant. They hear, 'You can make it too--buy a car, get a job, get wealthy.' It can function as a form of liberation." It can also be exploitative. Outsiders, observes Milmon Harrison of the University of California at Davis, author of the book Righteous Riches, often see it as "another form of the church abusing people so ministers could make money."
Exploitive? Nonsense. Now, get out of my way. I have to go buy a lottery ticket and a pack of smokes.
"That language is reflected in Your Best Life Now, an extraordinarily accessible exhortation to this-world empowerment through God. "To live your best lifenow," it opens, to see "your business taking off. See your marriage restored. See your family prospering. See your dreams come to pass ..." you must "start looking at life through eyes of faith." Jesus is front and center but not his Crucifixion,Resurrection or Atonement."
Do churches really preach about Jesus anymore? How old fashioned.
"Last March, Ben Witherington, an influential evangelical theologian at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky, thundered that "we need to renounce the false gospel of wealth and health--it is a disease of our American culture; it is not a solution or answer to life's problems." Respected blogger Michael Spencer--known as the Internet Monk--asked, "How many young people are going to be pointed to Osteen as a true shepherd of Jesus Christ? He's not. He's not one of us."
To that I say, "Amen!"
Source: Time Magazine