What’s wrong with the “prosperity gospel”?

What is the Prosperity Gospel

Victoria Osteen said this during a recent Sunday morning service:

I just want to encourage everyone of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God – I mean, that’s one way to look at it – we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. So I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”

Victoria Osteen ‘Do Good for Your Own Self,’ Not for God [:37]
Osteen and her husband Joel co-pastor the Houston, Texas, mega Lakewood Church.

Steve Camp, pastor of the Cross Church in Palm City, Florida, says her words are essentially blasphemous.

It’s the age old sin of idolatry – that it’s not about God, it’s about us,” he said. “True worship for the humanist is about how we feel at the end of the day and what gives us meaning, as opposed to what gives God glory.”

“She honestly believes that God exists to make us happy rather than holy,” Camp said. “She honestly believes that worship is about our fulfillment rather than His glory. That’s the bottom issue here.”

First Corinthians so clearly says that whether we eat or drink, do it all to the glory of God. It’s not just self. Jesus said … in Matthew 16, ‘Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.’

“The Osteens have just inverted that. They think it’s not the denial of self, but the exaltation of self,” Camp said. “They’re not trying to pursue a cross; they’re trying to pursue prosperity. And they’re certainly not following the biblical Jesus. They’re following whatever brings happiness and contentment.”

Prosperity Gospel dropouts

At Amazon, a reviewer of a Joel Osteen book wrote this:

What is it that draws people to Joel Osteen? Why do people enjoy his teaching so much? After all, tens of thousands of people attend his church each week and hundreds of thousands more watch him on television. He has become one of America’s most popular pastors, even while he teaches things that most pastors would testify are inconsistent with the Bible.

“I think the secret to Osteen’s success is this: he teaches self-help but wraps it in a thin guise of Christian terminology. Thus people believe they are being taught the Bible when the reality is that they are learning mere human wisdom rather than divine wisdom. Osteen cunningly blends the wisdom of this age with language that sounds biblical. He blends the most popular aspects of New Age and self-help teaching with Christianity. And his audience is eagerly drinking this in.”


Osteen’s wife accused @ http://www.wnd.com/2014/08/joel-osteens-wife-accused-of-blasphemous-remarks/

Amazon review by Tim Challies “Spiritual Junk Food” @ http://smile.amazon.com/Become-Better-You-Improving-Every/product-reviews/0743296923/ref=cm_cr_dp_qt_hist_one?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addOneStar&showViewpoints=0



Filed under Christianity

25 responses to “What’s wrong with the “prosperity gospel”?

  1. So, so right. C.S. Lewis argued over and over that this approach could never work, because God purposely designed ‘happiness’ to preclude focus on the self. It’s only when you abandon yourself and stop trying to make yourself happy and focus on God that happiness is given to you. As Scripture says, all the rest will be given you besides. Just as your wonderful Nathaniel Hawthorn quote says from your right sidebar!


    • Amen brother! Focusing on myself brings me nothing but anxiety, insecurity, and ultimately self-loathing. Concentrating on something outside myself — whether it’s worshiping God, or planting flowers, or playing the piano, or reading a wonderful picture book to a small child, or cooking a really good supper for my family — has the opposite effect.

      Still, I can understand why the Osteens are so popular. If you think the universe should revolve around you, but you still want to consider yourself a Christian, then their message would undoubtedly be very appealing.


      • Right. I don’t get the appeal of the Osteens, either, although they DO spend a lot of time encouraging people and getting their confidence up. I know most people desperately need that, so that probably helps.


  2. “…we’re doing it for ourselves…” was as far as I watched when Cuzzin Brandon posted that video on his blog under the heading “Literally Painful.”

    I know some here will surely remember Rev. Ike? His bombastic declaration that ‘God wants you to have a gold Cadillac like me, so send me money,’ was just fun to listen to. These modern prosperity preachers are like modern twangy-voiced rock calling itself country. Rev. Ike was the, what, Merle Haggard of Prosperity Gospel, with his old-fashioned tent revival type exhortations.

    It’s funny how just-off-center it is. God has nothing against prosperity, stability, health, or comfort, of course, yet few men can prosper industriously, while remaining unattached to the hazards of wealth, honest in transactions, wise in investment, and benevolent in success. Such folks do exist, and are the best long-term employers in a stable society, and the creators of, yeah, trickle-down prosperity for everyone.


  3. chrissythehyphenated

    This is a beautiful homily on the prosperity Jesus truly offers us.


  4. It’s so deceiving… and we know who deceit comes from.


  5. Ok, so not to talk bad about someone, or to cast aspersions. . . but the first time I stumbled across a Joel Osteen preaching-thing on TV, I was almost immediately wary, Because as I watched and listened, I thought to myself:

    Wow. If I was producing a Hollywood movie about the Antichrist, I would cast someone that looked and sounded and acted exactlylike this guy . . ..

    Which was clue number one for me, really. Any time someone comes across as a cheesy casting pic for Antichrist, you can bet there’s something wrong with the message. . .


    • Ahhhh, the old Tolkienesque “looks fairer and feels fouler” schtick. I know what you mean. I think his wife has the same thing going on. The whole “bride-of-antichrist” vibe. Sorry to use Tolkien there. I know you prefer Harry Potter. 😉


      • chrissythehyphenated

        Not sure about that last bit. I have it on good authority (cuz she posted it on FB) that she spent Saturday watching LOTR. 🙂


      • Actually, LOTR is in fact better than Potter. But Potter has a more flexible fanon. I love both. And other things. Because I am a total Geek.


    • chrissythehyphenated

      “Any time someone comes across as a cheesy casting pic for Antichrist, you can bet there’s something wrong with the message.”



  6. I wasn’t going to mention this, but then Pete reminded me that Alison founded PN in the first place, so it’s appropriate, I guess. I scan over twitter feeds every so often (Iowahawk’s, of course, but also random people we know, just to see what’s going on), and I’ve noticed that one of the crew that caused PN to be formed in the first place is almost entirely a series of RTs of Osteen’s Tweets. Funny, that.


    • Sorry, that’s not very clear. I mean that the twitter feed of this person who was one of the chief adversaries of Alison and the PN founders is just a bunch of Osteen re-tweets. I guess their judgment hasn’t changed much.


    • chrissythehyphenated

      I don’t know what her faith is like, but she just told me this evening about her life since she kind of disappeared from the internet It’s been one disruption, challenge and crisis after another. Very hard times. So maybe she simply found Osteen’s tweets encouraging. I do know they don’t live anywhere near the Osteen megachurch.


  7. This is an anti-gospel that looks to self rather than God. See “Osteen’s Narcissistic Gospel” at http://t.co/glhuLVHMTD.