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Joel Osteen takes on his critics
Is Joel Osteen underestimated? One religious scholar says yes.
October 7th, 2011
12:26 PM ET

Joel Osteen takes on his critics

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - He peddles “gospel lite," a watered-down Christianity that mixes prosperity with piety.

That's how critics have described Joel Osteen's message. The televangelist may be the pastor of the largest church in America, but he still doesn't get respect in many parts of the religious community.

Osteen, a college dropout who never attended seminary, has built a huge international audience with inspirational messages that blend positive thinking and personal transformation. But is he preaching "gospel lite" messages devoid of any mention of sin and hard choices?

Osteen rejects that charge with the same honey-toned voice and unflappability he displays in the pulpit at Lakewood Church in Houston. There's no hint of defensiveness.

“I deal every day with life issues and sin in our church every week,” he says. “I deal with people who have cancer, talk to people about how to forgive when they’ve been hurt. I don’t think that’s light. That’s everyday issues.”

Osteen is promoting his latest book, “Every Day a Friday,” in which he shows readers “how to be happier seven days a week.” The book dispenses much of the same pulpit advice Osteen has given to the tens of thousands of members of his Texas church.

Much of that advice centers on attitude. Some samples: Playfulness is as important as sleep. After you climb, reach back. Give up your comfort to comfort others.

It’s not the traditional “turn or burn” pulpit message, and Osteen is OK with that.

“I don’t beat people down,” he says. “I don’t have a lot of condemnation in my message. I don’t believe that we’re supposed to be depressed and broke and poor and suffering. God wants us to be happy and to be a blessing to people.”

Osteen’s phrase “God doesn’t want us to be broke” sets off theological alarm bells for some critics who say that's code for preaching the prosperity message. Critics of that message – that God promises wealth to the faithful – say it transforms Jesus from a prophet to a financial adviser.

Go online, and there are plenty of pastors and scholars who go into detail about Osteen’s message. One of them is the Rev. Gary Gilley, senior pastor of Southern View Chapel in Springfield, Illinois.

Gilley says Osteen preaches a “gospel lite” message that avoids anything controversial such as judgment or sin.

He says Osteen also preaches that wealth is a sign of God’s pleasure. There are plenty of heroes in the Bible, such as the Old Testament prophets Jeremiah and Habakkuk, who were poor, Gilley says.

“Someone might counter that David and Solomon were wealthy, but this was not the case for Jeremiah and Habakkuk, both godly men who lost everything,” Gilley says. “So where does Osteen come up with the idea that 'God wants to increase us financially'? Of course, millions of examples throughout the world and throughout history could be given of godly people living in poverty.”

Osteen doesn't deny preaching about prosperity, but he defines it in broader terms than do his critics.

“When they say prosperity, that’s some guy on TV asking for money,” he says. “Our ministry is not about that. We’re about helping people. When I hear prosperity, it means to have good relationships, to be a blessing to people, to have peace in your mind.”

Shayne Lee, a sociologist at the University of Houston, says Osteen has been misunderstood. Lee has been a blunt critic of televangelists. In his book “Holy Mavericks,” he examines how Osteen and other televangelists use branding to sell themselves to a mass audience. Lee spent a year studying Osteen's church.

He came away impressed.

“He’s underestimated,” Lee says of Osteen. “He’s got tremendous skills that people will never give him credit for.”

Osteen’s skills quickly became apparent when he took over from his father, John Osteen, Lakewood's founder and longtime pastor. Joel Osteen had run the media department for his father, Lee says.

Osteen had to give his first sermon a week after watching his father die, Lee said.

“Few thought that he was up to the task, and some thought the church would fall apart,” Lee wrote in “Holy Mavericks.”

Lakewood now has 45,000 members, Osteen preaches to sold-out arenas across the country, and his television ministry draws millions of weekly viewers.

Lee cites three factors for Osteen’s success:

Marketing: He says Osteen’s previous work behind the camera taught him how to brand a ministry and create a visually appealing and quickly moving worship service.

Timing: When Osteen hit the pulpit in 1999, people had already grown tired of the smooth-talking televangelists who were often caught up in scandal. Osteen was the boyish-looking pastor who exuded sincerity and never pretended he had all the answers, Lee says.

Preaching: Osteen may not have the grasp of theology and church history that some pastors have, but he knows how to connect with ordinary Americans through a therapeutic message that draws heavily from pop culture, Lee says.

“His lack of seminary training is part of his appeal,” Lee says. “He’s not saying big words he learned from seminary. He’s speaking in a language that contemporary Americans understand.”

Lee says Osteen’s church is also underestimated. He says that Lakewood arguably has the most diverse congregation in the nation in terms of race, income and age, and that it does a lot for the poor.

Critics who complain that Osteen waters down the gospel are suspicious because of his “lack of rigid dogmatism,” Lee says.

Yet Lee says Osteen’s preaching honors the example of Jesus, who told stories more than he issued dogma. He says many of Osteen’s sermons are built on insights extracted from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

“Jesus used parables to speak in a compelling way that his contemporaries could understand,” Lee said. “Osteen is speaking the language of the people in the same way that Jesus did.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Celebrity • Christianity • Church • Faith • Pastors

soundoff (1,331 Responses)
  1. John_Dunkel

    No aminal. No plant believes in religion. They will all go to hell!!!

    October 7, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      Huh....wha.....?

      October 7, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • Anon

      Not sure if christarded.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
  2. Urbanchristianwriter

    I like Joel, but his is a church I would never join. He fills in the gap until Sunday morning or Bible study. I do wish every now and then he would just shout "Yall N""""S going to hell, because the Bible is very clear about Heaven but also Hell. You cant dilute the reward of sin..

    October 7, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • shwmin

      well said....agreed

      October 7, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Anon

      Christianity = Ancient game of telephone made up by crazy desert folk.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • shwmin

      And your proof is?

      October 7, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
    • Anon

      Comparative religion, history and science.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      Kindly, if you please. Where is heaven? Wheere is hell?

      October 7, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
  3. ziegfeldf

    Another smarmy scammer.

    October 7, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
  4. jeff

    Jesus had more words of condemnation for the whitewashed self righteous pharisees than for sinners. The Gospel means Good News. Joel gives out the Good News that many religeous zealots have tried to hide. Joel always offers an opportunity to accept Christ as your saviour with every message.
    Joel we love you !!!! Don't Back down!!! You are RIGHT ON!!!! God Bless You brother!!!!

    October 7, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Ken

      I guess I just missed the part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said "Blessed are the Rich" – which pretty much seems to the only topic that Mr. Osteen "preaches" on every week.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • jc

      This guy's suit could feed 20 Kids in America....He's a fraud who preys on people not Prays.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • Greg

      Osteen is the very sort of viper Christ railed against in His time on this earth.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
  5. BATPIZED IN THE NAME OF JESUS!

    The truth about this man and many televangelist's out there is that they preach bubble gum messages that people WANT to hear not what people NEED to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. He is not supposed to condemn people but he is supposed to CONVICT people. Serving God was not designed to be convenient, and when you hear the word of God preached forth you should feel uncomfortable at times b/c it may not be what you want to hear but what you NEED to hear for your Salvation. As Christians we will suffer and these people make it sound like Christians will be happy 24/7 and never have trials or tribulations... how do we have a TESTIMONY w/o A TRIAL so that God can be glorified? John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have TROUBLE. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” You want to hear truth? you want your soul to be saved and you want to live a peaceful prosperous life... wealthy or not? Find the closest Apostolic Pentecostal church near you, hear the truth and let God do the rest. I pray for this man and all those televangelist's out there that don't have the truth that God will open up their eyes and pour out his wisdom and understanding on them b/c they are leading people to the Lake of Fire...

    October 7, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • ndeipala

      Your issue is that Joel wants prosperity in all aspects of life but I ask you do you are argue that by "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich." if this is not the case, please tell me what is then because I really am curious to know? It seems to me that your issue is with Joel for encouraging people to have a relationship with Christ because he's style of preaching is not to your liking but as a Christian who knows that "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11) how do you cast judgement for such an act? I say to you my brothers and sisters it is has been proclaimed by God himself in the book of Matthew, 7:1-2 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you."

      October 7, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • BATPIZED IN THE NAME OF JESUS!

      I am not judging this man by no means, but somebody has to take a stand for the TRUTH. Not everyone that preaches a good message saves souls.....

      October 7, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      @babtized
      What is your take on this:
      God = pain, suffering, cancer, children starving to death, kids getting kill-ed on prom night, children with cancer, Steve Jobs with cancer, anybody with cancer, des-pair, birth defe-cts, sui-cide, parents loo-sing their children and their entire lives being destroy-ed, famine, hunger, war, Aid-s, dis-ease, disasters, plane crashes, dying bloated babies, abused children, ra-pe, mur-der, cruelty, poverty, discrimination, children losing their parents and...religion. Thanks God.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • Baptized in the name of Jesus

      I don't have a take on it b/c it's not true.

      October 8, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Scott - other

      @ Central Scrutinizer:
      God gave us pain, science gave us anesthetics.
      God gave us sickness, science gave us antibiotics

      October 8, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  6. Central Scrutinizer

    God = pain, suffering, cancer, children starving to death, kids getting kill-ed on prom night, children with cancer, Steve Jobs with cancer, anybody with cancer, des-pair, birth defe-cts, sui-cide, parents loo-sing their children and their entire lives being destroy-ed, famine, hunger, war, Aid-s, dis-ease, disasters, plane crashes, dying bloated babies, abused children, ra-pe, mur-der, cruelty, poverty, discrimination, children losing their parents and...religion. Thanks God.

    October 7, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • BATPIZED IN THE NAME OF JESUS!

      God is not to blame but the Sin of Man.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Anon

      Christians use an astounding amount of mental gymnastics and cognitive dissonance to ignore all of that.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Ken

      What does your general atheism have to do with Joel Osteen specifically? Or do you just post that for every article in the Belief Blog on general principles?

      October 7, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • shwmin

      And where did you come up with that FALSE statement....Where are the scriptures to back up your claim? The INSANITY of atheism leaves me speechless...

      October 7, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • shwmin

      If there was no GOD then there would be no atheists.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • ziegfeldf

      Baptized's (BATPIZED, whatever) god is pretty random about dishing out the punishment. Why do you think that would be?

      October 7, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • Anon

      If ancient desert folk didn't make up myths and spread it as truth, there would be no Christians.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      "shwmin
      The INSANITY of atheism leaves me speechless..."

      And the insanity of religion leaves us speechless. We at least use logic, reason and science to back us, you use a 2000 year old text...suck it up, religion is dying and thankfully so.
      And by the way, Central is not an Atheist; s/he is agnostic...a more logical way to go than any theistic point of view.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • shwmin

      Logic...I needed that good laugh...thanks.. The most illogical thing in the world is that Atheists claim to be reasonable and yet spend most of their time talking about a God they don't believe exists. Sound reasonable????

      October 7, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • shwmin

      Science: Man in his arrogance, trying to explain God in His magnificence.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF JESUS!

      I just mean we gotta stop blaming God for everybad thing that happens on this earth. At some point everyone has had an opportunity to serve God and has either accepted it or rejected it. It is b/c of the sinful nature if man that terrible things happen on this earth.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • Anon

      I reject your mythological savior because it's a cruel joke upon humanity.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      I agree since there is no God.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      @shwmin
      Are you religious? Then who else can you blame? I DON'T blame God because I don't believe in God. Not an issue for me.

      October 7, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      Thanks truth. HE appreciates the support.

      October 7, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, please, schwmin, you can't explain the use of commas, you dolt.

      October 7, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • Margo

      GOD = LOVE "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" John 3:16. This even a child can understand. If you have a problem to see a loving and mersiful God, the problem is not His, but yours. Ask Him, and it shall be given to you, knock and it shall be open.

      October 7, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  7. Anon

    Christianity is not immune to being demoted to mythology status. It happened to other ancient religions in the past.

    October 7, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  8. Carol F

    One must remember that Jesus was not a Christian. Your heart will tell you when you're hearing the truth.

    October 7, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Anon

      Of course he wasn't a Christian since the bum never existed in the first place. It's just an ancient game of telephone, nothing more.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • Shannon

      Jesus was not a "Christian" due to the fact that the term didn't come into being until He returned to Heaven. However, Jesus was God in human flesh, and I don't care if people today don't believe it. Jesus is real and people like Joel hear are doing a great disservice to us all. If he can't come down on people for how they are living, then he is not a pastor. Even Jesus came down on Peter for his wrong doings. Joel is nothing more than a great speaker. He will have to answer to God in the end.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      @shannon
      1. Jesus, if he existed, was a Jew.
      2. And no he is not God and no he is not real and yada yada yada. Sorry. Just the facts.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
  9. ndeipala

    I have never spent a dime on Joel Osteen but had I it wouldn't be in vein, the number of days when this man's "not learned enough" words have got me out of a slump is countless. He's word when I wanted to be anything but righteous help prevent me from a lot of sinning because I was bitterness, holding onto anger and vengeful. I can honestly say as God as my witness that Joel's messages have given me the strength to deal with problems in my life and see the good where there is none. I feel the love of God and live in the light of Jesus when I am happy so as far as I am concerned Joel has in no way cheated me out of my money, if anything he's helped revived something that may have been dying. I am closer to Christ in part thanks to Joel. Say what you will but Christianity is built on a relationship with Christ, for some of who may have forgotten this because you were so caught up with the dogma of Christianity I remind you when everything is said and done, "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11)

    Some people want to see this man dead broke and beaten in order to call him a "real" priest. Some say teaches the word of the devil, if you think teaching the word of being happy physical, emotionally, mentally and spiritually is at odds with Christianity then you just don't know.
    2 CORINTHIANS 8:9 "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich." (IN ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE INCLUDING THE WEALTH WHICH SEEMS TO HAVE EVERYONE'S PANTIES IN A KNOT)

    I really think some people need to get real, some of you just have a pure hatred for this man with no real basis. You don't even have to be Christian to know this is amis not only in the eyes of God but in the eyes of anyone who knows wrong from right.

    October 7, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  10. Marc

    I am no Christian but I have heard some of his sermons and I really like him. He is all about positivity, living for the future, and not judging others. If the rest of the churches in this country taught like this I wouldn't have an issue with them. Leave him alone, he makes people feel happy and optimistic about life. We need that with all the hate coming out of this religion.

    October 7, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • patti

      I saw Joel and his wife and they were extremely positive and never seemed to push any $ donations

      October 7, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • Ken

      A lot of folks who are not Christians like the teachings of Hugh Hefner, too. So what?

      Of course you will like him if you are not a Christian.

      That is sort of the point.

      October 7, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • Carol F

      Amen!

      October 7, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • OzinWi

      I agree – his sermons have a positive, intelligent, sincere message. If there is criticism that Joel Osteen is not 'religious' enough to preach, are those people practicing a religious snobery?

      October 7, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • Greg

      You're basically saying that he's all about being an indiscriminate, spiritually and intellectually lazy consumer of material riches, just livingyour own self-centered life and having a good time. All of which means he's not a Christian at all, in the slightest.

      October 7, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
  11. JT

    This smiling shuckster is taking advantage of deluded Christians who will send him their money. I don't blame him for taking advantage of people who believe in a 2000 year old zombie, giving Christian suckers what they want...for telling them things they long to hear and telling them that it's ok to be wealthy and selfish. I just wished this atheist had no morals for I would want to do the same thing.

    October 7, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  12. T

    It's awful that Christian and Non-Christians alike gang up to diss this man. I think Joel has a much needed message; a blend of hope and religion to people who in these hard times can use a little of both. I grew up in a church going environment, later to not be involved with that for many reasons. But to me, At first I thought the idea of Joel Osteen was so fake and cheesy, until i listened to his podcast and actually began to like the guy when i was going through a rough time.

    October 7, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • Robin

      Me, too! That's how I found him. Common sense in common language. A sincerity that hits home.

      October 7, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  13. Joyce Andrews

    Joel Osteen is the most wonder-full Christian motivator of our time. What about the scripture that
    encourages us to think on "whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (Phillippians 4:8) And he certainly reminds ME, not a churchy person but Christian nonetheless, to do just that. Thank you, Joel Osteen, so glad you are in the world and able to share your message with those who need it. It is all too easy for us to jump on a negative bandwagon. God loves you and what you are sharing.
    And Jesus doesn't have any problems with you, either.

    October 7, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Ken

      Sorry, if you are not "churchy" then you are not really a Christian. Jesus died for his Church, which is his bride, and its members are the saved. I can call myself an eagle but it still doesn't mean I will be able to fly. I hope you think a lot more deeply about what it means to be a Christian, as it is not just something you inherit from Mom and Dad.

      October 7, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Dale

      Joel is about as milk toast as anybody out there. His messages are so shallow and void of true Chrisitanity, it's an insult to listen to him or his vacuous headed wife. Anyone who listens to them and can't see right throught their deceitfulness is living in a very empty and needy world and Joel's got just the cure for their doldrum lives....empty promises.

      October 7, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Greg

      It is truly pitiful how far you are from understanding what Christianity is really about. What you endorse is not Christianity, it is Christianity warped and twisted to the point that it bears no relationship to Christianity. It is simplistic and banal. There is nothing enobling or transcendant about it. It is profane and uninspired. It is washed-out and insipid. It is the lukewarm water that Christ spit from his mouth in disgust.

      October 7, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  14. Meathead (of the Word)

    To "Poo=Sue".... duh, maybe by what is laid out in the word of God??? No-brainer.

    October 7, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  15. Chris

    Such an obvious snake-oil salesman. He uses the snakeoil in his hair, and even inside his lips, so he can keep the fake smile going for cash.

    October 7, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  16. sansdieux

    This clown's yet another hypocritical christian ignoring the bible, especially the part that reads it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into heaven. He's telling people what they want to hear so they'll give their dollars to him. And they are, in millions. No respect for this snake oil salesman whatsoever.

    October 7, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Shannon

      Amen! I have watched a few of his programs and I have noticied that he never his Bible open or even read out of it. That's why I like Hagge. Now, that's a true pastor. I wanted to feel convicted of my sins and want to get right with God, not just "feel good" about myself. It's sad that so many people call themselves "Christians" but they are trully not.

      October 7, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
  17. shwmin

    The most illogical thing in the world is that Atheists claim to be reasonable and yet spend most of their time talking about a God they don't believe exists. Sound reasonable?

    October 7, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • sansdieux

      It's extremely reasonable and important, especially when christians keep trying to force their beliefs onto others: into our government, laws, courthouses, schools, libraries, bodies, and bedrooms. Otherwise, we'd leave you nutjobs alone with your delusions.

      October 7, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      Damn straight.

      October 7, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • shwmin

      I do not have enough blind faith to be an atheist...

      October 7, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • shwmin

      If there was no GOD then there would be no atheists

      October 7, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Yet you have enough blind faith to be a theist. We're not claiming a god exists. There is no proof for it and thus until there is, the safest way to go is being an agnostic...be that atheist or whatever. Calming a god exists without having some form of evidence to back you up leaves the burden of proof on you...care to provide that proof? and btw: you can't use the bible to do so...that makes it circular and thus not acceptable

      October 7, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  18. JennyTX

    The only people who know for sure what happens after we die are dead people. The best thing is to live your life in a positive way, trying your best and being respectful of others.

    October 7, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • JT

      No, they don't know. They're dead!

      October 7, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      JT good point there.

      October 7, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • Sunday Obikoya

      i have never come across a beautifully scripted comment in my life that actually hit the nail on the head. i salute you sir!!

      October 7, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      🙂

      October 7, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  19. Meathead (of the Word)

    To Lu: I was not directing my comparison on judging to you, sorry. I should've put it separately. I agree with you.

    October 7, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  20. Lutheran Pastor

    Joel Osteen has some very good skills. He's a fine orator, he can tell a funny story from time to time, he can give good advice and he's easy to listen to, BUT he is NOT a preacher of Jesus Christ. I have listened to over a dozen of his self-help seminars (a.k.a. his version of a sermon) and he has never, not once ever, mentioned Jesus in the same sentence with the cross and calvary. In fact he almost never mentions Jesus at all, but rather the generic God. I've never, not once heard Joel Osteen talk about our sin, our need for repentance, or the blood of Jesus that forgives us. Not one time.

    Listen to what Jesus preached..."From that time on (the beginning of Jesus' public ministry) Jesus began to preach, 'Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near.'" (Matt. 4:17). The greatest prophet John the Baptist preached, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt. 3:2). The Apostle Paul says, "For I resolve to know NOTHING while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Cor. 2:2) And, "But we preach Christ crucified..." (1 Cor. 1:23). Yes, Jesus is a God of great love and we are to love and serve our neighbors and our enemies, but first we must REPENT and receive the frorgiveness of Christ. Jesus doesn't promise anywhere that we are going to 'live our best life now," or any such nonsense. In fact if we are true followers of Christ we can expect persecution, trials, and temptations and yes maybe even poverty! (John 15:20, Luke 9:23-24, 1 Peter 4:12-13)

    Jesus does mention money and possessions many times, especially in his parables, but almost unioversally money is seen as a danger and something to be avoided because it may cost you your very eternal life (Luke 15:11-32, Luke 6:24, Luke 12:13-21). Don't take my word for this...Look it up for yourselves! See what Jesus actually preached, not a false Gospel of Joel Osteen. The Bible says, "There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themsleves, lovers of money, boastful, proud....Have nothing to do with them...for a time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth...(2 Tim. 3:1,2,5; 4:3-4)"

    Our ultimate freedom is forgiveness found only in Jesus. Our best life will not be found now on earth, but rather our BEST LIFE IS TO COME! Every day won't be a Friday (thankfully!) but a great Sabbath day rest for eternity. An eternity found in Christ, because of Christ, because of HIS great love for us found on the cross.

    October 7, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • *frank*

      Jesus had zero sense of humor. Never trust somebody with no sense of humor. There's something fundamentally wrong with such people.

      October 7, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Sharon

      Who do you think wants to read alll of that???!!!

      October 7, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • sansdieux

      Why do you guys seek forgiveness from your god for the sin your god gave you in the first place? He did it to you, shouldn't he forgive himself? And just what do you seek salvation from? The wrath of god? God's anger at you for being exactly the way he created you? Why should you need to ask him for that? And doesn't he already know you want it? Isn't he omnipotent and know everything already? Your religion is nonsensical and you people are very, very silly. And at best, your Jesus had a bad weekend, and we all die, I wouldn't call that a very big sacrifice. Besides, it wasn't for anyone's sins, it was because he was a criminal being punished just like the rest of the criminals that weekend, he was crucified. Big deal. Cancer patients your all-loving god could cure but chooses not to suffer much more than Jesus did that weekend on that cross. You guys are all nutjobs, sorry.

      October 7, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Robert B. Howig

      What a wonderful sermon. I hope your congregation knows how much God has blessed them in their pastor. Pray for Sharon and *frank* (how do you pronounce that anyway?)

      October 7, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • *frank*

      a moderately intoxicated Eton

      October 7, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • MLMCKOY

      Sir that was well put because in this life for sinners this is the BEST it's gonna get and for christians its the WORST it's gonna get.People that says ugly things against the truth is expected anyway because "we are not of this world".

      October 7, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Margo

      AMEN, brother Lutheran Pastor!

      October 7, 2011 at 10:10 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.