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Matt Walsh on Joel Osteen and His Wife: My Opinion about His Remarks

Updated on March 21, 2017
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Recently, a right-wing blogger, Matt Walsh published an article on Joel Osteen and his wife. In it, he basically labeled them heretics and concluded its for that reason that America loves them. In the 38-second clip posted on YouTube, which promoted this Walsh’s name calling, Mrs. Osteen said to her audience:

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

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In response, Walsh said:

Amen! What wonderful blasphemy! Worship God for yourself. Do good works for yourself. Take up your cross, suffer the slings and arrows of the Enemy, and die with Christ for yourself. (OK, she didn’t say that last part, but only because the Osteens have a strict “don’t talk about Jesus” preaching policy). In more primitive times they burned heretics at the stake. Now we greet the blasphemers with applause and multi-million dollar book deals. I’m not sure if the latter response is any more enlightened than the former, but both are wrong.

Though he had more to say about the Osteens, I thought the presented extract from his piece sums up the points he was making about them. In his continuous quest to portray anything progressive as wrong, an enemy of the ideal and absolute Truth. But, I'm sure the other reason he says things like this, is the sake of his "far right" audience whose egos he needs to stroke at all times by reminding them how right they are and how wrong the rest are. Well, the following is My opinion about his remarks on the Osteens:

On Being Heretics

While I am not a big fan of the Osteens and don't totally agree with all, they do as Ministers of the Gospel, like the fact they live in a $10million mansion (if that's true). Still, I disagree that they are heretics and that Mrs. Osteen’s words were heretical. Yes, one might consider her message as nonconforming with conservative Christian messages since she chose a more progressive approach to it. But it is not heresy since it’s basics, are grounded in the scriptures too. Or are we now at a point where all different ideas are heresy, even if there are biblical backings to them? I thought the Bible is the final authority as opposed to human-made doctrines and reasonings?

Yes, traditionally, doing good was meant to be for God as expressed in the words of Matthew 5:16: “let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven.” A verse Walsh did well to cite in defense of his position. However, conventionally we are also told that God is high and might and doesn't need anything whatsoever from us, mere mortals. According to Acts 17:25,“…human hands can't [even] serve his needs--for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need.” A possible reason the writer of Job 22:2, asked: "Can a man be of benefit to God? Can even a wise person benefit him?”

But now, despite the presence of these sort of verses in the scripture, when anyone advocates for a focus on the self and its happiness, with a claim that God takes pleasure in seeing us do that, it is considered blasphemy. What’s going on here? Doesn't it make more sense to assume that God, as almightily postured as we present Him, doesn’t even care if our works give Him glory or not? Of what benefit is that to Him anyway? Isn't it also possible that since He doesn't need anything from us that the only thing which gives Him joy is seeing us concentrate on bringing happiness to our lives as Mrs. Osteen suggested? Who are we even to move God? When our good works cause others to glorify Him how much impact does it leave on His person? If it doesn’t have any effect, why can’t we then focus on ourselves and our happiness? We already have enough sacrifices we make, just for living in this misery-laden earth. Now we are asked to put more burden on ourselves for the sake of God, as opposed to living for our sake and happiness, instead.

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In the same vein, I don't think it is heretical to encourage people not to live hypocritically, which is my take on Mrs. Osteen’s message either. When one follows the part of traditional Christian doctrine, which focuses on doing all for God; others and less on self, it pushes one into living more deceitfully, just to maintain a good front before others and avoid displeasing God, though otherwise would be preferable. Isn’t that in itself unscriptural? Isn’t it more of life’s heresy and even unGodly? Most especially since God, is quoted in Amos 5:21-23 as saying: "I hate all your show and pretense -- the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won't even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your hymns of praise! They are only noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is”.

So, isn't it better to show up for worship, just because it makes one happy, rather than for the sake of others who will see that and give glory to God when, in fact, the person takes no pleasure in doing so? Should one do good for the sake of God even when they don't get any gratification out of it? Won’t it be going against the directive “…do ye all things without murmurings and hesitations”(Philippians 2:14)? I will want to believe that doing what brings joy and happiness will completely remove the chances of murmuring in whatever we decide to do, or not.

Again, isn’t that more like what God would take pleasure in, which is the message Mrs. Osteen was passing unto her audiences as opposed to doing it anyway, just for the sake of God and others? Remember, her words never dismissed the possibility of Christ’s promised suffering and persecution in this life. On the contrary, her message focused on the subject of good and what ought to be our motivation for choosing to do good.

If that is the case, what wrong with centering on ourselves; our joy and happiness and even be implored by Pastors to do so, without being called names? I prefer to believe such human state of mind will greatly make God happy. Come to think about it, there aren't contented human parents, in their right senses, who will after raising their kids, turn around to insist they live the rest of their lives attending to their needs and gratifications. That’s rarely the case I want to believe. Rather, they take pleasures in seeing their kids move on and make the best out of life for their personal good and happiness. So, if humans don't necessarily expect that of their children in their contentment why, will an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God expect differently from us? Or, is He not far more contented than earthly parents? And, isn't it implied in Matthew 7:11 that he treats His children better even than the earthly father(s) do?

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Furthermore, “because the Osteens have a strict “don’t talk about Jesus” preaching policy,” is not a justifiable reason to consider them heretics either. If anyone finds this odd, does it then mean that Jesus is greater than His supposed Father? Doesn’t it make sense to preach with a policy that exalts God and implant Christ’s messages in the process instead? I guess it's this anomaly in the style of traditional Christianity that promotes "ignorance in the Church." It is truly a matter of ignorance to assume Jesus who told you to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and every other thing will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33) was expecting to be at the center of every sermon as opposed to God and the message of His kingdom. Walsh, it may be important to note that Christians don't worship Jesus Christ as you insinuated. They worship God but holds Christ’s teachings dear to their hearts.

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On Why America Loves Them

In my opinion, the fact that America loves the Osteens, it is not because of their heretical or unorthodox style of preaching as Walsh suggested. Not because they distort the scriptures and offer empty messages with a smile. Not because they aren't dangerous or non-threatening. They are loved, widely accepted and admired even in their shortcomings (as humans), because they offer faithfuls and their listeners an alternative belief system. A version of Christian faith that is more progressive; that's focused on encouraging self-belief and development as opposed to self-denial and deprivation. What they offer adapts with real life trend, rather than challenge it; its convictions are realistic, not mythical; and promotes spirituality more than religiosity.

So, although the “Osteenized Christianity is a vulgar abomination” and ladened with “causal heresies” in the eyes of Walsh and his ilk, all the same, it brings ample hope and joy to their followers. Better than the fire and brimstone style of the old fashioned orthodox Christianity. People who listen to them not only find reasons to carry their cross, but they are made to be more assured God has a real and useful purpose for them when they do. Not just blind pursuit just because God commanded it to be done, in following Christ’s footsteps “up that hill to Calvary.” They are also more assured that in their brokenness, they are not God rejects, doomed to eternal damnation. Contrary to the concocted idea, I doubt if the sustainability of all these is because of a “mentality that has long since infected every strand of American Christendom” as Walsh understands it. But it is a realistic attitude that is helping people cope better with the realities of life. Something traditional Christianity has kept away from them all these while.

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Suggestions For Walsh

Walsh, while I think you are wrong (which I say lightly) on the Osteens, but who am I, however, to pass judgement on you. I have just tried to use the scriptures and common sense to justify why the Osteens are not heretics and also provide an alternate explanation to why America loves them.

I say this because, in my opinion, the major issue with your piece is that you were passing judgment on others. Even to the point of indirectly suggesting what ought to be, done to them for being heretics. This manner of talk and suggestion is the some of the reasons many are leaving Christian congregations, that still portray themselves as traditional or old fashioned, in mass. Know this, if you comfortably judge others, you can be anything, but not a “good” Christian. Remember, "Judge not, that you be not judged" Matthew 7:1.

Won’t it be better as the Bible commands to leave everything for God to judge in the present life or eventually? Particularly, if you are a real warrior of the Faith and truth like you present yourself. Or don't you believe that, if they are indeed misleading people for personal gains that God is faithful and able to reward them according to their deeds? Didn't Romans 2:6 say, “God "will repay each person according to what they have done””? Or is your own God different from the one pointed to here? Is yours weak that you need to fight for Him? Don't you believe He is a "big boy," who is capable of taking care of Himself and fighting His battle as well? My humble suggestion will be: move on and leave folks alone in the comfort of their belief and practice style.

Remember the scriptures says/asks in Matthew 7:2-5, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Take these words seriously, if you can, it will help make your belief come off more sincere and pleasing.

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In Conclusion

In conclusion, while I don’t support the idea of Ministers of the Gospel living in a $10 million mansion, yet I'm sure if your work gives you enough money to live in such a home you will do same (this is not me looking down on the potentials of whatever you do). Or is the issue just because they are enjoying that in the name of God? If that is the issue, you are doing the same too in a smaller way. Since your audience and donors reach out to you because you defend a version of Christianity they subscribe to in the name of God also. Hence, ideally, let us entrust everyone’s eye specks of sawdust or planks to “God [who] is a fair judge, a God who is angered by injustice every day,” according to (Psalm 7:11).

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