By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - Talk about thieves in the temple.
Some $600,000 in cash and check donations were stolen this week from Lakewood Church in Houston, according to the city's police department.
Incredibly, all of the money was from one weekend's donations, the church says. For many American churches, $600,000 in tithes would be a good month or even year.
The church, which is pastored by bestselling author and preacher Joel Osteen, told congregants the stolen money came from contributions on March 8 and 9.
The theft occurred between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning. About $200,000 in cash and $400,000 in checks were stolen from a church safe, said Houston Police Department spokeswoman Jodi Silva.
The investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made, Silva said.
Lakewood Church also warned congregants to keep an eye on their credit and bank accounts, since some of the stolen goods include envelopes with credit card information on them. The church said there was no electronic data breach, though, and the stolen money is insured.
Officials at the evangelical church declined further comment.
According to Christian researchers, Lakewood is the largest church in the country, with some 43,500 members attending Sunday services. It meets in a former sports and entertainment arena just outside downtown Houston.
The church's popularity has been built on Osteen's relentlessly optimistic, and some say unbiblical, teachings, which often focus as much on self-help as eternal salvation.
"Part of my ... success is that I've stayed in my lane," Osteen told CNN in 2012, "and my lane is lifting people's spirits."
MORE ON CNN: No, Joel Osteen has not renounced his faith
Pastor Joel Osteen on the power of prayer
Osteen: I stick to issues I understand
Hate theft but maybe they will do some good with the money. Hell, anything is better than Joel keeping it and messing up more young Humans minds with all this drivel about god, souls, and afterlives being anything other than fantasy.
Mental illness is a result of sin..in other words...things were perfect till man messed up, as a consequnces you got death
Joel Olsteen should be locked-up with Kevin Trudeau.
You've just insulted an entire segment of society that suffers from various mental diseases and disorders. That's about as low as a one human can get toward another of extreme disadvantage. Proud of yourself and all that you claim is your idea of a god? Who in their right mind would want to be a part of your belief system knowing that should they or a family member, friend, etc. ever suffer from mental illness, they will be labeled as evil sinners?
I would not urinate on you if you were on fire.
I di dnot say it that way..maybe if you read it better idiot....I WORK with mentally Ill..i would NOT have meant it the way you said it..MAYBNE if you asked quesiotns to Clarify? your hatred betrays...see what hatred does? youre proof of that....ALL people sin..i did NOT in ANY way say ONLY mentally ill people do it...you are pathetic
MAYBNE if yuo laerned to COMMUNIOCATE properly there would fewer misunderstandings about what yuo mean.
Sheesh, you've allegedly got a three-pronged Supreme Being and Legions and Hosts of angels on your side. Not one of them ever helps you out?! It's almost like they don't exist. No, it's EXACTLY like that.
Never mind, don't change a thing, keep it up. Just keep on calling people who disagree with you "idiots" and "ignorant" - it is such an attractive feature!
ahhh so you all cant read thru typos eh? I will call those who are idiots those who proved my point...see what their hatred did? they were blinded by their hatred to see what I was saying...that's what hatred does....
I protect the mentally ill from people like you.
no you don't..I work with them..you are the one whos mistaken....you have no clue what I was talking about..your hatred makes you not think clearly
Listen dude...we all sin...no one sins more than any other...even mentally ill can sin..but I don't see God holding it against some of them..those who are unable to grasp what sin is and death and such...because sin is a conscious decision one makes....ok? so in NO way are mentally ill evil people...they are human as rest of us...next time try to ask for clarification ok? see what hatred did to you? you assumed I meant something else and you ranted on something I wasn't even implying...thus you proved my point..hatred can damage
Some mental illness is the result of religion. Maybe not some. Maybe closer to all.
God took the money. He put Joel on an automatic payment plan cause Joel was stiffing him.
Did Jesus go around raising money ? What did Jesus say ? In the final days of his life on the earth, he was at the temple treasury in Jerusalem and noticed "a needy widow drop in two small coins of very little value (2 leptons (equal to 1 quadran),1 lepton was the smallest of Roman currency)."(Luke 21:1, 2) How did Jesus feel about her seemingly insignificant contribution ?
Jesus said: "Truly I say to you that this poor widow put in more than they all did, for all of these (the wealthy) put in gifts out of their surplus, but she, out of her want, put in all the means of living she had."(Luke 21:3, 4) In the 1st century, two sparrows cost an assarion (equal to 8 leptons) and five sparrows could be obtained for double this price (like a "baker's dozen" of 13 ). Hence, with 2 leptons, the "needy widow" could only buy 1/2 of a sparrow, which was considered as almost worthless by many Israelites and her 2 leptons was equal to 1/64 of a day's wage.
And did Jesus go around the land of Israel just "lifting people's spirits" ? Jesus told Pilate: "My Kingdom is no part of the world.....For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth (not just "truth in general, but the complete body of truths of God's purposes and which God's Kingdom is an essential part). Everyone who is on the side of the truth (truth based on the fundamental fact of God's sovereign will and His ability to fulfill it) listens to my voice."(John 18:37) Jesus taught "the truth" about God and was thus hung on a torture stake for his unswerving obedience to the Father, Jehovah God.(Heb 5:7)
Does Mr Joel Osteen teach "the truth" about God or does he just give what his members want to hear (and they in turn give him what he wants – money) ? The apostle Paul wrote that in our time period ("the last days", 2 Tim 3:1) that "they (false Christians) will not put up with the wholesome teaching (which causes a person to "renounce the shameful, underhanded things", 2 Cor 4:2), but according to their desires, they will surround themselves with teachers to have their ears tickled. They will turn away from listening to the truth (accurate knowledge of the Bible) and give attention to false stories (lies taught by the religious leaders of Christendom, such as the "prosperity gospel")."(2 Tim 4:3, 4)
After 3 1/2 years of hard work, how many fully accepted Jesus teachings ? About 120 right after his death.(Acts 1:15), in contrast to over 43,000 that Joel Osteen has mesmerized.
Actually, what is truly pathetic is the inability of an individual to recognize a glaring and yet simple concept. Even a cursory view of human nature will reveal mans's brutality towards each other, whether that is revealed in a Mao Tse Tung, Adolph Hitler or yours and mine daily selfishness, pride or hatred of our fellow human beings. As I have stated previously, it is why mothers burn their babies with cigarettes, it is why husband's beat their wives to death, it is why masses of humanity were led into rooms filled with noxious gas, it is why a teenage boy will walk into an elementary school and slaughter little children, it is why whole segments of our society exist: healthcare, judicial system, law enforcement, and it's why individuals on internet blogs will lash out with such vehemence towards one another.
No explanation of biology or evolutionary survival of the fittest mechanisms can explain it away.
Oops. Meant to post below.
Goodness, ddeevviinn, no one is arguing that human nature is even close to perfect, but focusing on imperfection may not be in the best interest for everyone's mental health 24 hours a day. If that helps you to think about it non-stop, then be all the downer you can be. But stop acting like that's all there is in the world. Stop acting like we haven't made some progress with mental health. Stop trying to think that everyone should address problems the same way you do – through some belief system that grows more transparently wobbly day by day.
You are designating attributes to me that are simply not true, but I imagine that is your thing.
You mentioned a lot of examples of people mistreating others, but at no point have you shown sin. For sin to exist, there must be a god or gods, which you have not shown.
You have only shown that some people are counter productive to humanity at times, though overwhelmingly people are generally co-operative and work for common well being.
You claimed fact...still waiting for the proof.
"Counterproductive". Not quite sure whether to laugh or cry at the use of that terminology. That's like saying " Ivan the Impaler liked to play with sticks
" You claimed fact ... I'm waiting for proof." As I have previously stated on more than one occasion " I can no more PROVE the existence of God than you can PROVE His non existence. So it is not about proof, but rather evidence. Now you have made a conscious choice to reject the evidence, but that rejection does not eliminate the possibility that said evidence is valid and factual.
you have NO evidence that excludes all other possibilities. That is just wishful thining and is simply irrational.
You have simply accepted "evidence" and jumped to a conculsion based on what you want to be true.
""Counterproductive". Not quite sure whether to laugh or cry at the use of that terminology. "
Iga simply chose one of the many, many synonyms for "bad" or "evil"... they range all the way from irksome, troublesome and low through harmful, foul and hateful to devastating, heinous and pernicious (with lots of levels in between).
"So it is not about proof, but rather evidence."
I don't know where you get the idea that because humans display these characteristics and behaviors it is evidence for a god or gods.
Hey peeps... Love conquers all.
I have posted my ideas regarding ethics and the origins and functions of morality – but here is what Robert Heinlein had to say:
“Morals — all correct moral laws — derive from the instinct to survive. Moral behavior is survival behavior above the individual level.
The instinct to survive is human nature itself, and every aspect of our personalities derives from it. Anything that conflicts with the survival instinct acts sooner or later to eliminate the individual and thereby fails to show up in future generations. . . . A scientifically verifiable theory of morals must be rooted in the individual's instinct to survive–and nowhere else!–and must correctly describe the hierarchy of survival, note the motivations at each level, and resolve all conflicts.
We have such a theory now; we can solve any moral problem, on any level. Self-interest, love of family, duty to country, responsibility toward the human race . . . .
The basis of all morality is duty, a concept with the same relation to group that self-interest has to individual.”
As stated, attributing ethics and morality to any evolutionary survival of the fittest mechanism, is to me, naive at best.
"As stated......Even a cursory view of human nature....."
Well you certainly focused on specific negative examples. Can you demonstrate that human nature is predominantly negative – that we don't generally understand that what helps society helps us as individuals?
I'll try to demonstrate this from personal experience, but first understand my perspective. I adhere to this notion of imago dei, we are all created in the image of God. I also recognize that sin has altered this image of God within us. So what this means is that while human beings are capable of many good deeds and actions and not everyone descends to the likes of a Hitler, we all still have this potential for evil with us.
Now to my experience. Most of my friends and family would concur that I am a decent fellow. I love my wife, have been faithful to her for 25 years of marriage, I have good kids, don't beat my dog, yadayadayada. But here's the thing: I know what goes on inside my mind and there are very few SINS, from adultery to murder, that I have not committed internally. The interesting thing about the God who is revealed in the bible is that He doesn't differentiate between the external an the internal. It is why Jesus spent much of His time on earth confronting the religious leaders whom He called " white washed tombstones". Outwardly they could put on a good show, but inwardly, not so much. " As a man thinks, so he is"
The fact that Jesus (and many other ancients) knew some things about the basic nature of humans and their behavior (and their positive and negative characteristics) is simply not evidence of a god or gods.
But the glaring reality of sin in every facet of daily life is. Now you may choose to explaining it away, but that does not change what it is.
ddeevvlliinn, don't you think before you can assess how naturally "evil" or "good" someone or a group of people are "internally" you should be able to prove exactly what the basis is for said "evil" and "good". Since that Abrahamic religions and sects are so inconsistent on moral "truths", then why should a non-believer like me give any of the Abrahamic faiths any serious consideration regarding the matter? That is my second problem, the first, of course, being that I don't see any reasonable evidence for the Abrahamic deity's existence.
(sorry – my first sentence was a question)
You keep using the term sin as if it has been validated.
For sin to exist, there must be a god or gods, which you have not established.
For the word sin to have meaning, you must show the existance of god(s), which you have failed to do, so the term is invalid.
There are many terms that you can use that do not imply any gods, which would then make your statments correct, but since there is no way to tie any gods to anything, sin is an invalid description.
Yes, people are bad to each other. People are also kind to each other. Same as with other social animals.
When you label "bad" (insert synonym of your choice) behavior as "sin" (an offense against a god or gods) you are loading the question. The fact that "evil" (insert synonym of your choice) occurs is not valid evidence for a god or gods. You can take that angle of argument for a deity right off of your list. Next...?
The question is not loaded at all. What it comes down to for me is this: what I find in the biblical literature is a picture that most realistically portrays the human condition, the consequences of that condition, how it has impacted everyone and everything on this planet, and how this condition can be rectified. Agree or disagree, biblical christianity is singularly unique in its presentation. I simply cannot deny, and Lord knows I've tried, the reality of what I see and experience in everyday life with that of what I find revealed in scripture as to the human condition. If you choose otherwise, that obviously is your prerogative.
But mental illness can. BTW, is mental illness an example of intelligent design ?
Hmm – OK here's what I got from this:
1. Jesus on earth is just like you and me (not wealthy, not perfect...)
2. Ignoring sin is setting yourself up for failure.
My, well it certainly isn't good to be overly proud, overly confident; and it's important to take responsibility for one's actions, etc., but this idea of sin as something your born with as a way of highlighting human imperfection is over the top. In the Christian world, it has allowed VARIOUS Christian opinion to define "imperfections" for the purposes of control and willful disenfranchisement. It's disgusting.
No matter how valiant your attempts at denial, the reality of sin and the human condition is apparent.
"No matter how valiant your attempts at denial,"
Huh. The human condition is apparent. The over 41,000 different, often conflicting ideas of what is bad behavior coming from people who have no decent evidence for their beliefs is also very apparent.....lol.
Did you ever find out any of the names or other writings of the "500"?
Did you ever find out who really wrote the Gospels, who really wrote Peter?
Anything else besides some hearsay "historians" and the motor-mouthed Saul of Tarsus?
If you're going to be that gullible, you may as well be a Mormon and buy into Joe Smith's crazy story.
"No matter how valiant your attempts at denial, the reality of sin and the human condition" is pure speculation and belief.
It is not denial, just not gullible enough to believe baseless claims.
As far as sin, that is a concept created by men, in the same way they created your god. Sin cannot exist without god, and you cannot show any sign of any goids anywhere.
Either, and I say this with no disrespect, you are a liar or else extremely naive. These are your only two options.
The irony in your use of the word gullible does not go unnoticed and your casual lack of familiarity with the biblical literature is astounding.
regarding my statement above, and you cannot call someone a liar without disrespect, I am neither a liar nor naive.
You suffer from thinking belief is reality.
There are no signs of any gods.
Men created your bible along with the concept of sin.
If no gods exist, sin does not exist, and no one can show any sign of any of the thousands of gods men have worshipped.
In what way do you incorrectly believe I am lying or naive? I do not accept your bible as anything more than a fictional work of man, and I know you can't show it to be anything different.
"These are your only two options."
LOL – you know those horses that draw the tourist carriages around Central Park? They have blinders that don't leave them with very many options....
I stand corrected. In retrospect, I realize it is impossible to state that someone is a liar without inferring a certain level of disrespect. Hopefully naivete is your issue
As previously stated, you can dismiss and deny this concept of sin until the cows come home, but that has no bearing on the fact that it has infected every person on this planet. Your particular view of the bible is irrelevant to its reality.
Your trite analogy aside, they are also only your two options.
You claim fact where there is no evidence or proof at all and have the nerve to call me naive...that is just precious.
" the fact that it has infected every person on this planet. Your particular view of the bible is irrelevant to its reality."
Though the bible itself is real, the contents of the bible have been proven to NOT be reality.
you claim FACT that every person on the planet is infect with sin...hilarious, but now that you have procalimed it fact, upgrtading it from the baseless belief that it REALLY is, by all means, show the proof that it is actually fact.
You may want to check out one of your gods top ten no-no's...and do not bear false witness on me ( or the rest of humanity for that matter).
Just another person who cannot distinguish the difference from belief and fact. Pathetic.
"lack of familiarity with the biblical literature"
Oh, ddeevviinn fancies himself quite the mind-reader. Of course it is unlikely that ddeevviinn would be able to prove or demonstrate that any of the supernatural claims of the Bible are anything other than fiction. Or after the millennia, could ddeevviinn be the first? hmmmm.......lol – I don't recommend that anyone hold their breath waiting.....
You do realize your feeble attempts at witticism only reveal your inability to deal with the issues? No? Your debate tactics are no different from that of a junior high school girl. Just a little FYI.
"your feeble attempts"
I'm just pointing out the obvious. You've made a claim about sin and it's quite obvious you can't back it up. Demonstrate the source of your alleged moral "truths" and you might have something. Or just try not sounding like your opinion is somehow better than the next believer with a differing opinion and then just maybe the whole concept won't sound fishier than fish sauce.
devin, One does not need to have studied religious texts in detail to know that they are historically incorrect. Genesis is totally incorrect. Sin is a religious invention so it is not reality to those who do not follow your religion.
If you were able to provide evidence that your god is a reality you'd be the toast of christendom – why not pursue that?
Oh, and ddeevviinn, you forgot to answer these questions posed:
Did you ever find out who really wrote the Gospels, who really wrote Peter?
(Hint – can you even prove how many Gospel authors there were?)
Anything else besides some hearsay "historians" and the motor-mouthed Saul of Tarsus?
(Hint – aside from Luke – you know, Paul's best bud – relying on that would be like saying one of Joseph Smith's "witnesses" proved something....)
" One does not need to have studied religious texts in detail to know that they are historically incorrect." While I agree, I'm not really sure what this has to do with the tea in china. My first undergraduate degree was in religion/philosophy with a minor in biblical languages. While this in no way qualifies me as a "biblical scholar", I can tell you that I sat under the teaching of more than one professor with a terminal degree from an Ivy League college who would object to your portrayal of the Genesis account or the disparity of the gospels.
I have in the past presented numerous evidence, I said evidence not proof, for the God found in the Christian faith. Here is another reality: If someone is fully entrenched in and enamored with their unbelief, evidence is rather meaningless, it will simply be rationalized away.
"it will simply be rationalized away."
Heaven forbid anyone think rationally...
So ddevvii, let us know then next time you take that "evidence" out of the safe.....it might help clear up some things.... :roll:
"I sat under the teaching of more than one professor with a terminal degree from an Ivy League college who would object to your portrayal of the Genesis account or the disparity of the gospels."
Maybe, but nothing in Genesis has been proven to be historically accurate and all the evidence we have indicates it is inaccurate – garden of Eden, Noah, etc.
As to the Gospels and the rest of the bible it's there in black and white for all to see. Inconsistencies galore.
Belief is YOU rationalizing IN things that you do not have evidence for. Countless times I have heard things like "Ihave evidence from my experiences" but they have NEVER been able to explain how they jumped from explaination to god, without discounting the myriad other explainations. Most often, they want to think it is god, so declare it to be so.
You do not seek truth, you want your belief to be true.
" it might help clear some things up" No, I don't think it would. When an individual is mired in such deep seeded unbelief and when that unbelief has nuances to it that the individual themselves may not even recognize, there is only one thing that will dissuade that unbelief. It is something I cannot provide.
devin, So no answers or evidence. You know that your evidence is flimsy so it's the old "you won't believe me anyway" spin.
Nope, once again you are wrong . I'm simply not going to waste my time once again typing all the evidences from creation, complexity, nature, aesthetics, cosmology, ethics, etc.. that point to the Creator. It would be an exercise in futility knowing that you are more than likely familiar with the evidence, but choose to reject it. But, if it it makes you feel better to say I am just trying to "spin" it, I'm okay with that.
"all the evidences from creation, complexity, nature, aesthetics, cosmology, ethics, etc.. that point to the Creator. It would be an exercise in futility"
you are correct that it is an excercise in futility, since there is NOTHING that points to any creator.
There are many other possibilities.
"that point to the Creator"
what are you claiming now, the Creator or the Abrahamic God, and if you believe they are one and the same, why?
(not that I think you have any decent evidence for either concept)
And as I have mentioned on more than one occasion, your stated perspective is that of a minuscule percentage of the world population. All that to say, you are not really in a position to pronounce such dogmatism.
It does not matter the number of people that have a certain belief. The number of people that believe a certain thing does nothing for the validity of the belief.
There is NOTHING pointing to any creator, since there are many other possibilities.
I was not making an argument from popularity, I was simply suggesting you may want to temper your authoritative proclamation " there is NOTHING pointing to any creator" in light of the fact that the vast majority of those on the planet have concluded otherwise.
Got a run and get some work done. Til next time. Have a good day.
devin, None of what you claim supports a creator is in fact evidence of a creator. Nothing we know supports the personal gods of religions. I would note that many people have concluded that gods other than yours are the creator – does that make them right?
check out http://www.Hear-The-Truth.com
The truth is you are stealing advertisement spce.
There is NO truth on this site.
So many haters spewing out comments against a minister. The scriptures say that he will be judged for what he says and does and none of us have a right to condemn. That is reserved for God. – Stop looking at others whomever they are and make your own choice for where you will spend eternity.
The problem is that there is no proof of an afterlife, let alone a God to dole out punishments.
Does it make one a "hater" to point out that Christianity is a multi-billion dollar industry?
Does it make one a "hater" to point out that people like Joel Osteen fleece their flocks of sheep to get rich?
Are ministers above criticism and scrutiny?
James, there's a lot of hatred that goes around on the Internet–and your flock is not immune from spewing it either. You reserve your fire and brimstone not for ministers, but for people who are different–gays, atheists, and often people of different religions. You are in no position to complain about "haters" as long as your side of this issue learns a little bit more tolerance toward people who don't believe as you do, and maybe a little thicker skin would not hurt either.
Finally, we atheists can sometimes get sarcastic and even rude, but be happy. At least we will never come knocking on your door, or telling you, or even your children(!) that you will burn in Hell forever and ever just because we don't share the same belief system.
VIolation of the Term of Service rules you agreed to.
Good job of showing your honesty, Christian.
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.