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April 24th, 2012
04:51 PM ET

Five things we learned from Joel Osteen's visit

By Eric Marrapodi and Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - Joel Osteen, the pastor of America’s largest church, swung by the offices of CNN's Belief Blog on Tuesday. He’s in town for a "Night of Hope" event at Nationals Park baseball stadium this weekend, which is expected to draw thousands of worshipers who wouldn't otherwise step foot in a church.

Before taking batting practice with the Washington Nationals and delivering the opening prayer in Congress, Osteen sat down for a freewheeling interview with us. Five things we learned from his visit:

1. Osteen's optimism is unflappable

No matter how negative the outlook may be regarding religion, the economy or politics, Osteen sees the good.

Churches in America may be bleeding members but, Osteen’s own church – and those of his megapastor friends – are growing. "Sometimes what works 40 years ago doesn’t work today," he said, explaining how he built a church with 40,000 regular attendees in Houston, Texas.

"The denominations aren't as big of a deal so they may not look for a church that just says the First Church for Baptists or Methodists or Catholics,” he said. “They look for place where people are believers of a like minded faith. And so I see those types of churches growing and that's the type of church our is."

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Osteen has grown his church from a congregation of 7,000 since taking over for his dad in 1999.

“I’m biased,” when it comes to Christianity’s growth prospects,” Osteen said. “You know we’re coming from a stadium here and I’m thinking how’s this young guy from DC going to have 50,000 people - whatever that stadium holds - and I see it everywhere we go it seems like more than ever we see people hungry for their faith.

2. He hates weighing in on politics but will– sometimes

Osteen said he thinks politics "divides people" but was careful to add that "some pastors are very much called to be in politics like I’m called not to, so I like to celebrate what they’re doing."

The issue of religious liberty has been a hot one recently, especially over a pending White House mandate that free birth control be offered to employees at certain religious institutions. While many conservative pastors called the mandate a threat to religious liberty, Osteen said that it’s "not my personality to call something a threat but I would agree with what their argument, the basis of it, that we don’t want government telling us what we can, something that goes against our faith."

He added that he stands with Catholics and other Christians who opposed the government mandate, though it’s not completely clear if he’s satisfied by a White House adjustment to the rule that mollified some Catholics, if not the Catholic Church.

"I would hate to think of the day," Osteen said, "where someone would come and tell me you have to minister on this and it goes against what the scripture says."

3. Osteen sees Mormons as fellow Christians

"When I hear Mitt Romney say that he believes that Jesus is the Son of God, that he's the Christ, raised from the dead, that he's his savior - that's good enough for me," Osteen said in an interview that aired on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

While Osteen said Mormonism is "not traditional Christianity," he believes Mormons fall under the Christian tent.

"Mormonism is a little different, but I still see them as brothers in Christ," the pastor argued. That goes a big step further than many other Christian leaders, who have not gone so far to say that Romney is unquestionably Christian.

Osteen also told Blitzer that he believes President Barack Obama is a committed Christian. Some conservative Christian leaders have questioned the president’s religion.

4. The point of Osteen’s TV broadcast is inspiring people and getting them to church

Osteen is often criticized for preaching a watered-down version of Christianity that is light on sin and heavy on feeling good. He said the goal of his TV ministry, which reaches 10 million Americans a week and costs about $20 million dollars a year, is to help get people into churches.

"I’m trying to throw a big broad net to try to get people interested in God and believe that he’s for them and has a purpose,” he said. “Maybe someone that would never be interested before but then at the end of each broadcast I encourage them to get in a good Bible-based church so you can grow.”

"I see our ministry as an extension of the church, the local church,” he said. “I realize in a 30-minute broadcast you can’t do all that. I’m trying to be really broad."
Osteen added that the TV broadcast partners with 500 local churches to help transition people from TV to church.

5. Serving communion to 40,000 people is tricky

Answering a question from an @CNNBelief Twitter follower, Osteen said Lakewood Church celebrates communion once a month, even though TV viewers don’t see it.
"There’s pros and cons of a big church,” he said. “Cons is I don’t get to know everybody, I don’t get to go to their ballgame, I don’t get to marry everybody, but the pros are you get all this community, 800 ushers come in to serve, getting there at 7 in the morning on their day off and coming in on Saturday to make all those wafers.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

soundoff (1,154 Responses)
  1. brown

    What God allows innocence to suffer?

    April 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Dionysus

      Read up on "The Problem Of Evil." You will find out that a god who has the characteristics of the Abrahamic gods cannot exist. However, gods like the Greco-Roman pantheon are fine with the suffering of innocents, as that is their nature – they bickered and use people callously as playthings in their games and schemes.

      Actually, the nature of life on Earth makes more sense with a group of malevolent gods who are in constant conflict with each other and don't really care about humans than it does with a single all-powerful loving God. And of course, it makes the best sense with no gods at all, that things just happen.

      Birth defects and the holocaust and tornados and cancer make no sense if there is a loving God who controls all, but it makes sense if there is a contentious group of petty, spiteful gods. And of course, it makes the most sense as the normal operation of nature, with defects and randomness.

      April 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • toadears

      This earth is under a curse. We get what we get. Muddle through to the other side and help each other to get there. Everything here is temporary and corruptible. Watch a body decay and understand the truth. We don't belong here but it is a test to see if we can become worthy to handle the incorruptible and permanent things of the next kingdom.

      April 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  2. r

    #6. His wife is hot.

    April 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • s

      However, she would dump him in a heartbeat if the money was gone.

      April 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  3. skip

    the man is selling "snake oil".

    April 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  4. LCL

    Joel Osteen's "religion" is money. Stop giving it to him and he and his wife will freak out.

    April 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  5. Ting

    Dear Joel,

    Why is it that God will punish his own people, sometimes for doing minute things like not going to church or reading their Bible, yet others can do things like commit murder and get off scot-free? You say God will eventually punish them. Why punish some people now and wait until judgement day for others? What if the killer repents and becomes a Christian before they are judged? So a Christian's house gets destroyed by a flood because they weren't giving enough money to the church, yet nothing happens to a murderer because he repents before God takes the time to punish him? Then of course there's the book of Job which no one, not even God, can explain. Once again the word "evil" comes to mind.

    Best regards,

    Ting

    April 25, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Tong

      Sounds like you already have your mind made up on a lot of what you are talking about.

      April 25, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Leo

      Ting, Here is a very good response to much of what you are asking in regards to judgement, etc. There is an excellent resource called stand to reason http://www.str.org that you can look into if you are really looking for more answers.

      One of the hardest questions confronting Christians defending the biblical record is, "How could a good God commission Israel to destroy women and children when they're fighting their battles?"
      This has happened more than once in the Bible. It's difficult to explain the answer to this, though I think there are a couple of reflections on the issue that offer food for thought. You can approach this from a couple of different directions.

      First one caveat. I fully acknowledge that not all good answers are going to be emotionally satisfying to a lot of people. That's why this is a hard issue, because people let their emotional sensibilities rule instead of trying to see the bigger picture.

      One way to approach the problem is to show that it's a much bigger problem than first imagined. Curiously, I think this helps make the solution simpler. God's command that Israel destroy women and children in battle is really just the tip of the iceberg.

      What about when God slew the firstborn of Egypt? Many of these were women and children, some infants. Every plague on Egypt–the hail, the gnats, the frogs, the locust, the boils–fell on all Egyptians equally, not just upon the soldiers.

      What about Sodom and Gomorra in which, with the exception of Lot and his family, every man woman and child was turned to cinder? Everyone was indiscriminately destroyed. The same thing happened in the Genesis flood. Only eight in the entire world survived. It's interesting that I have never heard anyone raise the complaint "What about the women and children?" in these instances.

      When you read the book of Revelation you'll find this practice of God's is not limited to the Old Testament. In the future, God will once again visit judgment upon the world and destroy not just the soldiers, but the women and children as well. I've never heard anyone raise an objection about that, but isn't it the same problem, essentially?

      The underlying question, "Is it right for Jews to kill women and children at God's command?" can only be answered by answering another question: Can God legitimately judge and destroy the world or any portion of it or its inhabitants that He sees fit to destroy? Is this inside of God's prerogatives or outside of it?

      My answer is unequivocal: It is not evil for God to take life, because God is the Author of life. He can give it and He can take it away. That's part of the prerogative of being God. All that He creates belongs to Him. This is His world. He needs no further justification, because He is not compelled by any law higher than Himself.

      Second, our notion of the sovereignty of God entails that every detail of the world is under direct control of God. Nothing happens that He doesn't either actively cause or passively allow. God did not create the universe, wind it up, then let it spin out its course without His involvement. Instead, regarding every nation of mankind on the face of the earth He has "determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation." (Acts 17:26)

      This means that since humans are mortal, there comes a time when every life God created "shuffles off its mortal coil" and returns to Him, either for ultimate judgment or for ultimate reward. God, the Giver and Taker of life, calls every life back to Him at some point and in some manner. The timing and the method of each person's demise is somewhat incidental, from a moral perspective. It's up to Him.

      So I'm arguing first that it's God's prerogative to take life when He so chooses, and second that the means He uses to take that life is a matter of His prerogative as well. Whether it's by disease, or mishap, or hailstones, or the angel of life, or the sword of a Jewish soldier, the means is up to Him. It's His prerogative.

      My third thought has to do with the question, "What did those women and children do? They were innocent." I certainly understand the response and there is a sense in which on an emotional level I am troubled when I consider this. But there's another aspect to keep in mind.

      God deals with people not just as individuals, but as groups. When the nation of Israel is doing well as a nation, doesn't He prosper the whole nation, even though there are individuals in the nation that are scoundrels? When the nation is doing well, generally speaking, God blesses the nation and everybody prospers.

      However, the flip side is that when the nation is corrupt, then God judges the nation as a whole and everyone gets judged, even those remaining few that might be innocent. God is dealing with the nation as a group, for good and for ill. It works both ways.

      This should not be a foreign concept to us, though we probably haven't considered the connection between this biblical reality and modern day practices. When the President and Congress agree to go to war against another country, they act as federal heads of state and commit each and every American citizen to war against a foreign power. The nation is at war, not just our lawmakers.

      And we all suffer alike in the process. We surrender our effort and our taxes and even our life blood, if necessary. We all participate, even though war wasn't our idea. We acting as a unit, as a family, as a nation. And those we war against retaliate against us as a unit.

      In the same way, when I nation rebels against God, it is not uncommon for God to go to war against that nation itself and not just against a few rebellious individuals. God takes up arms against the land and against every man, woman, and child.

      Let's keep this in perspective, though. In the case of the nations in question that were utterly destroyed by God, it isn't a few citizens that imperiled the many. We know from Abraham's appeal on behalf of Sodom and Gomorra that God will spare a whole city of sinners for the sake of a handful of righteous people. Instead, there was a pattern of ongoing, thorough-going, and persistent moral rebellion against God that went on for years–in many cases, for generations–in spite of repeated warnings by God.

      There's a third thing. It pertains to the challenge, "If God were really good, how could He do such a thing? How could He destroy these innocent people? This is barbaric." They take this record of God's judgment as evidence that the God of the Bible isn't really good at all, and therefore should not be believed in.

      I approach it from a different direction. I think the preponderance of evidence from the same historical record–the Old Testament– is that God is good. He continually demonstrates not just his holiness, but also His patience and forbearance for those that consistently rebel against Him, though He has graciously cared for them.

      This gives us good reason to trust Him. And if we have good reason to trust Him, then when we see things that seem to go against our sense of goodness and justice, it seems only fair to give the benefit of the doubt to God, who just might know something more than we know.

      When we were children, our own parents acted in ways we didn't understand. We didn't think their decisions were fair. Later we learned that, for the most part, they had insight and information unavailable to us that influenced their decisions. Many times we learned that they were acting in our best interests after all, though we didn't see it at the time.

      These are the kind of things we discover as we grow up. We learn that our parents were right most of the times we thought they were off base. The same kind of hindsight is true with God. God may know a few things we don't know.

      By the way, the question has also been raised, "Why destroy the cattle, too?" My understanding is that in many of those cultures the people were so decadent they were having intercourse with animals. This caused rampant venereal disease in animals and humans that even infected children as well. So this may be– I'm not sure, but it may be– another reason God wanted these entire cultures wiped out. Because of their moral corruption, they were physically corrupt, and this represented a health threat to the new inhabitants of the land, the children of Israel.

      Even if that wasn't the case, as the Author of life God still has the right to take life according to His own judgment. I've given you three good reasons to help make sense of that. Whether it's emotionally satisfying for you or not is another issue altogether.

      April 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Sometimes, God is forced to do thing in His professional capacity that he would never do in His personal life.

      April 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • grey

      God doesn't punish, only the person punishes themselves through their own guilt!

      April 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Nathan Duty

      The most important thing that Osteen has to offer is that one should understand that he is simply a more refined and polished version of Benny HInn, Robert Tilden, Jimmy Swagart and all Elmer Gantry's of the world, not one follows the path of Christ, not even close. They are simply praying on the emotions of those of us trying to figure out how we got here, why we are here and where we are going. They, Osteen and the like, are predators getting rich on others.

      April 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Ting

      Hopefully this goes to the correct page this time.

      So to sum it up, God works in mysterious ways and who are we to question God?

      You said:

      it is not evil for God to take life, because God is the Author of life. He can give it and He can take it away. That's part of the prerogative of being God. All that He creates belongs to Him. This is His world. He needs no further justification, because He is not compelled by any law higher than Himself.

      So we are no different than any other object in the universe? God created us and can destroy us at will. If you build a house, then you have every right to destroy it because you were the creator. Can you and your spouse apply that logic to your children as well? Why do morals apply to us and not to God? Because he is the creator? Pathetic.

      April 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Ting

      Tong,

      Are we cousins? Sometimes my brother Tang (There Are No Gods) is on here, but I haven't heard of you.

      Ting

      April 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • momoya

      @Leo

      Having the right to do something doesn't make it less evil or more good.. A boss has the right to fire his whole staff, but what has that got to do with whether it is good or bad?. And it's really a stupid argument since your god has the right to do anything.. You may as well just state "Might makes right" as a way to explain how the same action is bad if you do it and good if god does it and be done with it.

      April 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Leo

      Momoya, If God the creator knows full well that someone is going to be against him, his enemy, who attacks his Children and knows ahead of time that this person will NEVER turn, would it not be his perogative to destroy this person rather than let this person continue to attack his children? By destroying that worthless enemy of God before he hurts anyone else, why would that NOT be just?

      You need to understand the big picture and not only look at the actions, but rather at the purpose.

      The question I asked ting and now would ask you is:

      If someone was breaking into your house would you stop them before they did terrible things? or would you wait? Which would be worse?

      April 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • sue-helen

      Dear Leo, if we don't involve our emotions with religion, there is not much left. Anyone who uses their brain for just a moment (you mention the big picture) will soon realize what a bunch of insane rubbish it all is. There is no evidence AT ALL for the existence of God. So sorry.

      April 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • historygeek5

      Dear Mr Ting,

      I hope this response brings you a small measure of peace in your quest for the truth.

      We all fear death. Religion is typically a human response to our innate fear of death. It is unquestionably the one thread that ties all the major religions of the world together.

      However, unbeknown to most people, we also fear life. Or more precisely, the seeming randomness and unpredictability in everyday life (including the unpredictability inside of our own hearts). I believe that is a major part of what is at the heart of your original question. You want a response to the ugliness and unpredictability you see all around you.

      It is my personal belief that all religions are trying to address our fear of death. But only Christianity can address our fear of life. When applied "correctly", Christianity reassures us that life (and our hearts as well) may seem unpredictable, but it no longer matters. Whether things "seem" good or "seem" bad, we have the reassurance of knowing we belong to God. And he will "soften" the blows. Now, how do we know when someone has this reassurance? They are the Christians that you can tell are trying more and more to reflect the heart of Christ. And I emphasize TRYING to be, versus letting everyone around them know that they ARE Christians. Now, how does one get this "gift"? By sincerely admitting to yourself and to God that you are tired of the unpredictability around you (and especially within you). And you've had enough. And telling him you are ready for it to be changed. That's it! An unconditional gift for an unconditional admission of weakness. The problem is, for most of us this is a deal we are not willing to make. Because ultimately we don't want anyone telling us what to do without conditions! So instead of the world becoming more and more Christ-like, the world is more and more trying to drown out this message. And as implied in your original question, the result is more and more violence in the world! It's not the malevolence of God, it's the stubbornness of mankind.

      I sincerely hope your heart accepts this as a small part of what you are looking for.

      April 25, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Michael Robinson Gainesville FL

      Ting Tong Tang....that's some funny stuff right there.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  6. Joseph G

    here is a video on reevaluating our nation's stance on religion and politics http://youtu.be/XGM2IrfUAiI

    April 25, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  7. Five Things I Learned From Joel Osteen

    1. An oily hair helmet, a shiny suit and a plastic smile are downright creepy. They just reek of dishonesty and greed.

    2. Joel Osteen definitely needs to come out of the closet.

    3. There is a LOT of money to be made as a pastor if you can manipulate the media correctly. It's more about production values than God.

    4. That shiny suit must be coated with Teflon to help Osteen pass through the eye of the needle that camels are more likely to pass through than rich people like Osteen are to get into heaven. Osteen's magic suit certainly renders his followers unable to use any critical thought on the money thing, and how different Osteen's lucrative approach is compared to the "sell your possessions and give it to the poor" thing Jesus demanded. But Christians blithely ignore that one too, just like Osteen.

    5. Eric Marrapodi and Dan Gilgoff and lousy reporters. When Osteen disingenuously evades the question on prosperity ministry, they let him off without a comment. The person who suggested the question ought to work for CNN, not them.

    April 25, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  8. jim

    Poor Rainer Brainwashed "It is not possible that Romney has the real faith." Of course he doesn't have it, he would need to be a follower of "blah blah blah" to be a real person of faith, like me!

    April 25, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  9. rjp34652

    Joel Osteen is an opportunistic dog.

    His purpose is to milk his followers of as much money and allegiance as possible. Listen people, Osteen has nothing at all to do with religiion except to use it as a con. Osteen is the Elmer Gantry of the twenty first century. Lots of glitz, same old con. Any similarity to Christianity in his organization is purely conincidental. Want to know why?

    Osteen's organization expressly forbids anyone with advanced formal education to attain a leadership position.
    Want more?
    There's a great deal of donation money being siphoned off among the 'leadership' for personal gain.
    Want more?
    There's a lot of s*x going on in those offices late at night and it isn't between married couples either (or straight).

    This information courtesy of one who was run out of the ministry because he didn't believe in betraying the gospel or those who gave honest donations to this fraud.

    Who cares really? The guy is handsome, he preaches a cotton candy gospel and puts on a great dog and pony show.
    It isn't religion though, not by a long shot.

    but that's just me, hollering from the choir loft...

    April 25, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Mikee

      Have you EVER seen one of his messages in person...NO did think so! You are a lowlife liar, and should burn for your blasphemy. Have you EVEER seen him ask for donations to his church..NO didn't think so...your kinda like a peodaphile aren't you? Joel preaches a thurough message if you would bother attending a service rather then just spitting out of your fecises mouth. Remember that next time you don't know the facts and go to speak.

      May 3, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  10. David Nelson

    I would describe his type of teaching as "hot tub" christianity. It feels good, until you realize you are learning very little from the bible other than "God has a plan for you" and that you might as well have bought a motivational CD.

    April 25, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  11. Martin J.

    Osteen gave excactly what People need and must
    be made aware off :

    In these times when social media is way on top and everybody has hundreds and thousands of friends of some of those web sites,
    which most of the times no one really knows what their religions or Believes are,
    is it then quite logically that we should be all Brothers and Sisters in christ ?

    April 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • old golfer

      If you were raised and educated in another religion I doubt that you would have the same feelings. But, most all religions claim, my way is the only way. God gave man reason. Man gave man religion, all religion.

      April 29, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  12. Keith

    I recently heard a guy say that the religious right in this country don't want God's holiness-only to have less evil. They want to go back to the 50's where they sinned in private. But God will have none of it. That's why this nation is being judged and deservedly so. He's correct.

    April 25, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Ting

      So are you saying that the next time a line of tornadoes rips through the south, it's because this country is being "judged"? We should have seen it coming. It's all right there in the scriptures.

      April 25, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  13. just sayin

    "it seems like more than ever we see people hungry for their faith."
    .
    Because they are weak, ignorant and do not want to accept reality and make decisions for themselves. Masses have always been like this.....like sheep you might say.

    April 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • just sayin

      4 choices

      1. Live a self perpetuated delusion in non-reality to live in reality (aka religion/make believe land)
      2. Medicate
      3. Learn to cope with reality and control what you can and understand what you cannot control
      or
      4. Off yourself

      April 25, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  14. Muldoon in Ohio

    This guy is a heretic of the feel-good variety. God never said he wanted his people to be rich and prosperous, or discuss politics and job opportunities or things of value. Osteen is in it to make his millions, which in my opinion, is a sacriledge of the highest order.

    April 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Keith

      Using God's name in vain???

      April 25, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • veritas

      God never said anything.....
      If it is the word of god why is it all I ever hear are people talking?

      April 25, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  15. k

    Anyone that tries to give the positives in life and tries helps others to be positive in life, I'm for!

    April 25, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Keith

      Olsteen should be warning his "flock" that the stench of this nation's sin has reached the nostrils of the Lord.
      Pro 27:12 A prudent [man] foreseeth the evil, [and] hideth himself; [but] the simple pass on, [and] are punished.

      April 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • sam

      Keith, that 'stench' is judgmental weirdos like yourself.

      April 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  16. David Nelson

    Joel Osteen's comments would have as much gravitas as Oprah's. He would be the last guy to ask doctrinal questions. It figures CNN would go to him for answers. But that's CNN for you.

    April 25, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Fellow prisoner of CNN, Bob.

      Shhh!
      They see all!...Know all!

      Do not let them see you!
      Flee them!
      Speak no words to them! They are evil!

      They can curdle milk with a single glance from their Evil Eyes!
      If you have coffee it will become cold and bitter!
      Beware!

      April 25, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • momoya

      LOL David, you make it sound like there actually is somebody who knows correct doctrine instead of it being each christian makes up his own doctrine because NOBODY can demonstrate by any reliable method whatsoever what the "true doctrine" should be.. Silly christians.

      April 25, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"because NOBODY can demonstrate by any reliable method whatsoever what the "true doctrine" should be.. "

      Interesting. Does this only pertain to Christians? Muslims, Jews and even Hindu all have differing opinions.

      But..try this. You speak on what is "True Doctrine", could we also point to something such as the Consti;tution and the daily court room arguments of lawyers and clerks who feel that they alone know and understand the true meaning of the what the framers when they wrote the laws of this land?

      Christians are not monolithic because we are just simple humans like the rest of the world and people will interpret Scriptures, Laws, Codes differently. Same as if there is a traffic accident and even though every witness was verified there they all will state that they saw different things.

      April 25, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • momoya

      @Mark

      Are you still a lying cretin like you have been every other time on the belief blogs?

      What I'm saying is that an actual, useful discipline is built on emergent facts that imply basic rules that can be attended to so that future possibilities can be vetted against the discipline.. Think about mathematics or chemistry.. The fundamentals within math and chemistry automatically provide a way to falsify or verify any new claims that come along.. You can't just "interpret" 2+2 to be 5 or 7 because math isn't a philosophy like religion is.

      All the various sects and denominations of christianity and islam and the rest prove that there's not a way to determine precise "truth.". Give any 100 christians the same obscure text, and you'll get about 50-75 different "interpretations.".

      Texts that present a philosophy (such as the bible and the const.itution) are able to be widely interpreted.. If the idea can be interpreted in a variety of ways, then we're ALWAYS dealing with interpretation.. With math and chemistry you NEVER deal with interpretation because there's only the procedures proven to be correct because the combination works or proven to be wrong because the combination doesn't work.. It is precisely BECAUSE the bible and christians have to rely on interpretations that proves that it is just mere philosophy and not a theory which can be proved or disproved.. Since it can't be disproved, it's just interpretation of philosophy–not "god's truth" or any such nonsense.

      April 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Momo. I am surprised you have taken time away from beating your wife to comment. 🙂 ... is that what you want me to say?

      Momo, there are many different intepretations of the Holy texts, many different books and often times different ways to view the meaning within the same text. That is why I find it tiresome to talk to some of the Faithful because they can not understand that the way they view the text might be different than another and in the end that is ok. Same as with Atheist. For every Atheist that questions the Faithful if they have the possibility that there is not a God we have another Atheist dug in equally deep that there is not.

      Live your life and find another way.

      April 25, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  17. pastmorm

    Um...I think the important thing that we're ALL forgetting here is the separation of Church and State. When did silly people like Osteen get to decide who should or should not be President of the United States???

    April 25, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      So, being a person of Faith you lose your right to free speech? If the man is giving his opinion on the presidential race how is it any difference than if Bill Maher gives his opinion?

      Is Bill Maher also determining who should or should not be president?

      April 25, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • George Jetson

      Mark, churches choose to give up certain parts of freedom of speech in return for tax benefits. If they want to indulge in political speech, they should pay taxes.

      They should also admit that they have absolutely no idea what God would actually want politically, as apparently he did not want equal rights for women and was fine with slavery, but politically those things went away . . . which most of us consider a good thing.

      Funny how some of God's rules in the Bible looks so repugnant now. It really makes you wonder about his sense of justice, codifying slavery and the inferiority of women.

      April 25, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • momoya

      Mark, I've demonstrated at least 20 different times that you are a lying fvckwad.. Nobody likes lying fvckwads.. Sucks to be you.

      April 25, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi George. ... and I love the name choice, great cartoon from the old days. 🙂

      I agree. On Sunday morning while preaching or praying it should not be a place or time to promote politics. Should this extend to discussions outside of the church as well? Many of us work jobs and careers in which we can not make political statements during work time but that does not prohibit us from voicing our opinions outside of our work duties. CNN interviews Osteen outside of his ministry duties so should he not have the same rights as the rest of us?

      April 25, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • just sayin

      "Funny how some of God's rules in the Bible looks so repugnant now. It really makes you wonder about his sense of justice, codifying slavery and the inferiority of women.

      Because "God's word is simply a reflection of the men who wrote it. lol That is why the bible is so outdated and quite silly. God Bless

      April 25, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Momo....Not here to win a popularity contest with anyone. If no one likes me but I like myself and believe that peace can be found through tolerance between groups that do not share the same views.....

      .... Then it is glorious to be me.

      Matthew 5:9 , It is important to me. I hope you find another way Momo, just shouting and swearing does not work when the person you are swearing against does not return the favor.

      Find another way Momo.

      April 25, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Mark: Look up the ACLU. Part of that group fights to maintain the separation of church and state. Bill Maher (as much as I enjoy listening to him) does tend to over step at times, however he is not a supporter of either party and is in fact independent. Separation of church and state means that churches stay out of government and government stays of churches and when one crosses the other, then it becomes public. No-one should be elected based on their belief or lack there of. They should be elected based on credentials and what they are willing to do to ensure that the citizens of their country are treated as equally as possible. This whole presidential race has been playing out like a bunch of teenage girls being catty, hormonal children...it's time they all grew up and focused on the real issues before the country goes deeper.

      April 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • momoya

      Mark, I clearly and definitively state my position which beats your steaming piles of obfuscated bull sh!t, every time.. 🙂

      April 25, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • just sayin

      "CNN interviews Osteen outside of his ministry duties so should he not have the same rights as the rest of us?"
      .
      Actually, you are incorrect, he was interviewed based on his church and his ministry. I don't recall the artical being about Osteen just as a man with an opinion...nice bs try though..keep bs ing

      April 25, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi Prevails. Yes I am aware of the ACLU and often times I disagree with their opinions. You have stated what you believe that the separation is of Church from the State but it has also been argued that it is that after fighting the English crown who is also the head of the church, the framers desired that the Government shall have no place within the Church.

      >>>”No-one should be elected based on their belief or lack there of. They should be elected based on credentials and what they are willing to do to ensure that the citizens of their country are treated as equally as possible. “

      With respect, since we live in a diverse society, the credentials that matter to one American voter will not matter to another. If I believe that a worthy credential is military service and another American declares that she or he considers military service is a massive negative... which one of our views of worthy credentials is ultimately right?

      It is hard to say, these days, what the voters really want.

      April 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • just sayin

      "framers desired that the Government shall have no place within the Church. "
      .
      And your point??? So are you suggesting that the Church should have a place in the government?

      April 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • just sayin

      Mark from Middle River....Mr. innuendo of statements....never really stating anything of fact....lol

      April 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • just sayin

      Correction- never stating anything of value

      April 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi just saying. 🙂

      Maybe it is because I do not see a united or unified church or Faith I am having difficulty seeing church having that much of a role within Government. There are too many denominations but when I think of the church as "the people" and with that as individual voters, elected officals and general workers I see folks bringing their Faith into their decision making as much as a woman brings her life experiacnes into her job. Remember Supreme COurt justice Sodomayor comment that she would provide the perspective of the wise Latino woman to the Supreme Court. Does that mean that she will act against anything not Latino or not a woman?

      arrggh... gotta go ... Peace

      L'Chaim.

      April 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • just sayin

      "I think of the church as "the people"
      .
      So let me get this straight...when you read what the Founding Fathers said as "the people", you think they were talking about The Church?

      April 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      yes we the people mean all of those that are citizens of the United States. The Klan is the people, The ACLU are the People, The Bloods and Crypts are the people, and the old guy that waves at us as we drive down Main street are the people.

      The Church is just a collection of people and if they are Americans then they are that as well. America is made up of people. Some of them we do not like and some we do.

      April 25, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  18. doctore0

    Vulture... preying on the sick,poor and desperate

    April 25, 2012 at 8:46 am |
  19. Frank Bund

    Ezekiel 13:20
    "Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly."

    April 25, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • momoya

      God can have my pillows when he can reach down and take them away himself..

      April 25, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • momoya

      Also, it seems pretty pointless for god to say he's "against" something or other, because really, if an omnipotent being was "against" something it would cease to exist, right? By the time he got the "words" out of his "mouth,' he could have already made that thing go away.. silly christians

      April 25, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Robert Brown

      This is God speaking against false prophets and fortune tellers. The pillows and kerchiefs were obviously used in their ritual in some way. The point is what God thinks of people who lie and deceive people for nothing more than a little gain.

      Ezekiel 13:
      17Likewise, thou son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy thou against them,

      18And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?

      19And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?

      20Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.

      21Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

      22Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:

      23Therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

      April 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  20. Rainer Braendlein

    "as long as the likely GOP presidential nominee believes that Jesus is the Son of God then he subscribes to the Christian faith.", Mr. Osteen said.

    What actually means the word "believe" in the biblical context?

    It can mean two things:

    Firstly, that one regards something as historical true.

    Secondly, that one is pious through faith in Christ.

    In the Epistle to the Romans by St. Paul, Chapter 3, 20-26 we can read:

    Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

    This passage gives us a pointer that faith in Christ has something to do with righeousness or justification. The real faith or belief must lead to the righteousness of the sinner (you are no sinner, if you keep the ten commandments more than perfectly; love is the fullfillment of the law; you have got that supernatural love?).

    Yet, does someone get merely a label "righteous" or shall someone become righteous in by word and deed???

    The whole context of the Epistle to the Romas makes it clear that by the true faith we shall become righteous by word and deed. It is not God's will to stick only a label on our forehead: "righteous".

    For example, read Romans 4, where Abraham's faith is depicted. Abraham was that righteous (by faith) in daily life that he is still venerated by the mankind: Jews, Muslims and Christians. Of course his is not venerated for his faith, but because he lived a life of true righteousness in daily life. Abraham was righteous by word and deed, otherwise he would not be still venerated.

    Hence, we only believe that Jesus is the Son of God in a narrower sense, if we have become really pious by faith. This is the real faith.

    Faith is much more, than regarding something as historical true. Real faith changes a human being or improves his life.

    It is only that the salutary faith begins with the belief, that something is historical true.

    You hear the gospel that God delivered his Son for your sins and raised him from the dead for your justification. First, you simply should regard that as true, but secondly you should get sacramentally baptized. At baptism you receive a person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, which helps you to overcome the lust of your body and to love God and your neighbour. If you live a Christian life by the power of the Holy Spirit, you have got the real faith, in which you are righteous.

    The sacramental baptism is a divine call for disciplship. After baptism you follow Jesus, not in order to get saved or in order to add on something to the baptism, but you follow Jesus, because at baptism you received a new life in Jesus and you died for the sin. You just live the life, which God has given you for free. A Christian practices righteousness not in order to get saved, but because he is yet saved.

    As far as I know the Mormons dont't practice sacramental baptism, but a baptism, which is merely a meaningless bath.

    Hence, in a narrower sense Romney cannot believe that Jesus is the Son of God. It is not possible that Romney has the real faith.

    All true Churches keep the one holy sacramental baptism, which is not allowed to be repeated, and they teach that baptism is a divine call for discipleship. Someone, who becomes a believer first in his riper years and has yet received infant baptism, shall simply remember his infant baptism in faith and receive the Spirit.

    April 25, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • YeahRight

      "Firstly, that one regards something as historical true."

      LMAO – the bible has already been proven not to be an historical document. LOL!

      April 25, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • YeahRight

      "All true Churches keep the one holy sacramental baptism, which is not allowed to be repeated, and they teach that baptism is a divine call for discipleship."

      Funny but since the religion of Mithra had the baptism too, which is where the Christian religion stole it from. LMAO!

      April 25, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • toadears

      I take it from your juvenile posts that you no longer have an a s s ????

      April 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.