Prosperity Message Via Power of Positive Thinking
Prosperity message as a false teaching.
In a recent men’s meeting, we discussed the 2-Peter 2 warning against false prophets and teachers. Our concerns involved both obvious error wherein some teachers actually deny the deity of Christ, and the more subtle types of false teaching wherein the name of Christ is used to mask a deceitful message. We also discussed the concept of teachers taking Scripture out of balance due to a fascination or fixation on a particular topic: i.e. prosperity, end times, and even the concept of a woe-am-I Christian mentality.
Brother Stephen Waldner followed up with an email that addressed the Joel Osteen argument, being that Mr. Osteen’s prosperity teachings seem based upon the power of positive thinking rather than the power of faith in Christ. Pertaining to the following Facebook post, someone had sent brother Waldner a letter to the effects of this:
Too often we’re letting these wrong imaginations of what might happen, what might not work out, what might go downhill, what might fall apart, to steal our joy and cause us to live stressed out. The good news is you control your imagination, you control what you watch in your mind. Just because that negative picture comes up doesn’t mean you have to tune in. Change the channel. The scripture says, 2 Corinthians 10:5, “Casting down imaginations…” Quit letting these negative images play in your mind.
Posted by Joel Osteen Ministries on Wednesday, January 4, 2017
“Seems to me,” writes brother Waldner’s friend, “Joel is saying we have the power to change our outcomes by thinking differently and that the “power” of change is within us. Maybe I am hearing it differently than you. Does the bible tell us not to fear? do not be afraid or worry?…yes it does. In deed, we are told not to dwell on negative things but rather focus on Christ. Does Phil 4 say to focus on what is good, holy, right, pure…yes it does.”
Then the email continued as follows…
“Yet Joel’s message seems different to me. His quote of 2 Cor 10 is very different than mine. My NIV says “take every thought captive in Christ”. Not every “imagination”. The power is in Christ not in my “changing the channel” and thinking positive thoughts.”
Note… Note: Mr. Osteen obviously pulled the term “imagination”
from the KJV version of 2 Cor 10:5.
Prosperity Message: Is Joel Osteen Wrong or Merely Working From A Limited Focus?
As you might expect, I have much to say on the issue of prosperity through faith and obedience to Holy Scriptures. In fact, I believe that God’s plan for financial growth and physical health will function, within reason, even for unbelievers. Lack of faith in no manner dilutes the power of God’s truths. Although I do not favor Joel Osteen’s style of spreading the prosperity message, I fully believe in a God who greatly cares for His people, financially, physically and spiritually. Thus here we go….
In many ways it does seem that Mr. Osteen sets focus on the power of positive thinking. Of a certainty, he sometimes fails to make clear the distinction between “powers of positive thinking through faith in Christ” versus “power of positive thinking without faith in Christ.” If indeed, Mr. Osteen speaks of faith in personal mental power, he is at error. Yet having listened to multiple Osteen messages, I have noted a routine pointing to Christ coupled with the acceptance that there is a Scriptural demand for obedience to Christ as the source of sufficiency. Personally, I think Mr. Osteen floats far to the left of making that distinction perfectly clear. However, I have never heard a preacher who doesn’t commit some measure of doctrine-based error. We view Scripture through a fallen mind, thus is the reason for so many arguments within the Christian world. For this reason, I am willing to default the issue concerning Mr. Osteen into the hands of a power of reasoning that greatly exceeds my own feeble wisdom. Unless the Holy Spirit moves me to reject Mr. Osteen as a God called teacher, I go my way and he goes his.
But not to stop too soon.
According to the PennLive article, “Defending Success and Frame,” Joel Osteen says: “My message is God has you in the palm of his hands. Nothing that happens is a surprise to him. I tell them don’t get bitter, don’t get angry, don’t let one disappointment, one bad break, one injustice ruin the rest of your life. We may not understand it. I don’t understand it, but I still believe God is good and I keep my trust in Him for bringing me through the difficult (1).”
In no uncertain terms, Joel Osteen declares that he takes no salary from his church, and that he never ask for money on television. Prosperity, he says, is more than money. It is Christians being used by God to reveal His goodness to a disbelieving world. Reject this aspect of God’s plan and you must also reject at least one aspect of why Christ performed miracles:
“But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him,” (John 10:38).
Rather than teaching to the tradition of those who would make God’s children into humble basket-cases, Mr. Osteen seems set to reveal God’s goodness to a humble people..
“I don’t really know what the prosperity gospel is,” Osteen says. “The way I define it is that I believe God wants you to prosper in your health, in your family, in your relationships, in your business, and in your career. If that is the prosperity gospel, then I do believe that.”
To me, Scripture proves that anyone who follows the basic Scriptural-based principles for a good life will reap an increased measure of God’s grace. IE… you reap what you sow. However, Christians through obedience, whether seeking health, finances, or spiritual guidance and strength are empowered by grace to enter the throne room of God with an expectation that He will respond to their earnest cries for direction, health, strength, courage and all other resources God makes available to His children. Thus in many aspects of the prosperity gospel, I find absolutely no fault in the words of Mr. Osteen.
As to 1-Tim 3, I do not know Mr. Osteen’s position before God in matters of “greedy of filthy lucre.” Without access to his personal finances, I cannot measure how he uses his funds. Furthermore, even with access to his personal finances, I cannot assume control as though I alone have the eyes and ears of God. Mr. Osteen, I hear, lives in a 10-million dollar home. If so, this seems rather greedy. Yet I have no knowledge of how he may or may not share personal resources with those in need. However, personal experience has proven to me that those who most often argue against prosperity typically also argue against God’s call for a tithe.
It should be noted, that various groups have charged Joel Osteen with financial scandal. Some say that the church he pastors is but a front for advertising and selling his books. We all know that big money attracts many false charges and arguments. Concerning this issue, I lack any evidence for making judgment.
Consider: If a man has $20 more than is sufficient to survive, is it greed if he fails to give that $20 to others? Up the ante: What if a man has a $200.000 home and $500,000 in IRA? How much is he required to surrender to church, the poor, or others? Scripture reveals that even Paul had stored sufficient funds to pay his own room and board while in prison. It seems to me that part of good stewardship requires an active effort to provide for self and family’s current and future needs. To make judgment on another person’s financial goals requires that I must at least establish by what terms I measure “sufficient.” And this type measurement system is, of course, based upon my own clouded emotions and mind. Rather let God who discern the thoughts, intents and purposes of a man’s heart. For each man will stand on his own before the judgment seat of God.
You may say that you have more than you will ever need. Does this mean that you should not save and plan for the future. Do you really believe that God plans that your children, church, and government should be tasked with caring for the needs often incurred by age and sickness? Is this type attitude not an attitude of faith without works?
Consider and learn from the ways of a virtuous woman as detailed in Proberbs 31:9-31.
Christ said that the poor will always be in the world. Is it possible that part of this simple statement is fact only because some people refuse to work, plan, or harvest. We are to help the poor. But does good stewardship not demand balance, and that a balance that is guided by personal communion with the Holy Spirit. Take heed from the lesson of the unfaithful servant who failed to multiply his master’s goods. God forbid that I should not ask God to help me improve not only my spiritual life, but also my earthly God-given skills, talents, and resources.
I’ve been long winded. So I close quickly. If the Spirit speaks to you that Joel Osteen is a false teacher, then you must follow that urging. Yet even if some men overdo the message of “prosperity” preaching, God has not changed from days of old. Has he not always expressed a will that His children be not foolish, broken, sick or crushed down? The prosperity message is only dangerous when it is used to draw people away from Christ. If presented with balance and a focus on positive thinking through faith in Christ, the prosperity message is clearly sound bible doctrine.
God’s Plan To Prosper His Children
Joel Osteen aside, what does the bible say about God’s desire to prosper His children. Think of it: Before becoming a child of God, I was lost, condemned, broken, crushed down, and spiritually sick even if not physically sick or financially broke. Now I am redeemed, changed, made right with god, given a new mind, a new heart, and stand as a declared son of the living God.
Should I teach depression or should I teach hope. Given a choice of only one, I choose hope. But knowing that I am not limited in this matter, I teach hope through faith in Christ Jesus. Without standing up for Mr. Osteen, I believe that God purposefully and repeatedly demands that men change their way of thinking. Not just on matters spiritual but also in a practical concept. This is clear via a simple open-minded reading of Proverbs. However, for further ref., see Romans 12:2; Ps. 37:34; Matt. 7:7-12; James 2:7; or just read and understand Acts 11:1-18.
I am sickened by a gospel wherein Christians are urged to live a life of insufficiency merely because they refuse to believe the entire bible. Always blaming others, never accepting responsibility for personal decisions, and refusing to learn how to manage money, care for their personal health, repair relationships, and live in the joy of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord, Savior, and Provider. Calamity may come, and experiencing difficult times in no manner reflects one’s position before God. However, the manner in which you face calamity greatly reflects your position before God.
Prosperity Gospel: Reviewing The Words of Joel Osteen
The following statements came from the mouth of Mr. Osteen. They are often used as a means for condemning his prosperity message and his position before God. I urge you to examine by seeking to find something right rather than something wrong. I suggest you seek to prove that his words align with Scripture rather than as erroneous to Scripture. Some people, I am sure, will scream that things are being taken out of context. To that, I declare that your message of “woe-am-I” Christianity refuses to partake of all Scripture. As to finding the balance, I offer a few starters and then leave the rest to you.
Before you begin, I remind you of the following Scripture:
“And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward,” (Mark 9:38-41).
Joel Osteen says……
“It doesn’t matter who likes you or who doesn’t like you, all that matters is God likes you. He accepts you, he approves of you.” Compare to… The life of Jeremiah with a focus on “Your relatives, members of your own family— even they have betrayed you; they have raised a loud cry against you. Do not trust them, though they speak well of you,” (Jeremiah 12:6).
“I don’t think that a same-sex marriage is the way God intended it to be.” Compare to… “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” (John 8:7).
“I believe that God breathed life into every person and that every person is made in the image of God and you have [to] accept them as they are, on their journey. I’m not here to preach hate or push people down.” Compare to… “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2:12).
“When I see thousands of people before me, it just doesn’t come out of me to say, ‘You guys are terrible, and you’re going to Hell.’ I’d rather say that God is a God of mercy. You’ve got to live an obedient life, but for every mistake you’ve made, there’s mercy there, and I believe we can do better.” Compare… “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven,” (Luke 3:37).
“I think the scripture teaches us that we can pray for our dreams pray for the big things.. he’s not a small God, this God is incredible.” Compare to… “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers,” (3-John 2); Also 1 Chronicle 4:10; Malachi 3:10,11
“I don’t claim to understand who’s all going to Heaven. I just believe and I teach in all my messages that when you have a relationship with Christ — that’s the reason why He came, to have a relationship with him that is the guarantee from Heaven. People don’t all believe like me; they see it bigger. I believe God’s mercy is very big. I thank God I’m not the judge of who gets to come.”
“The scriptures shows that it’s a sin. But you know, I’m not one of those that are out there to bash homosexuals and tell them that they’re terrible people and all of that. I mean, there are other sins in the Bible too…I don’t believe homosexuality is God’s best for a person’s life.”
On why there is no cross in his church, Osteen says: “When my dad founded our church, he used either a globe or a map of the world behind him. It was symbolic of what Christ said: To go forth and preach hope to the world. We believe in the cross, but we just continued with the globe.”
- PennLive, “Defending Success and Frame“