Christianity Johnson on 16 Oct 2008 09:20 am
Imagine that you find yourself in a country filled with millions of delusional people. These people believe in an imaginary god, believe that this imaginary god answers prayers, and believe that if they don’t behave properly, this god will punish them for eternity in hell.
If you wanted to make yourself rich, and you realized how ridiculously delusional all these people were, and if you had no morals, what would you do? You would use the delusion to make money for yourself by preying on the delusion.
That is exactly what Joel Osteen is doing:
One of Johnâ€™s prevailing themes, and the underpinning for much of Lakewoodâ€™s current message, can be found in one of his sermons: â€œItâ€™s Godâ€™s will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty. Itâ€™s Godâ€™s will for you to pay your bills and not be in debt. Itâ€™s Godâ€™s will for you to live in health and not in sickness all the days of your life.â€
If this is true, and if God is all-powerful, then Joel is either blind or lying. The amazing thing is that those who listen to him are so delusional that they completely ignore the reality of the world around them. For example, 3 billion people on earth (half of the earth’s human population) live on less than $2 per day. The amount of poverty on earth is shocking:
Tens of thousands of people die of starvation and disease every day.
If “Itâ€™s Godâ€™s will for you to live in health and not in sickness”, then why do Christians ever need to visit the hospital? Christians would have no need for the health care sector, yet heath care makes up a massive slice of the U.S. economy. Christians get sick and die at exactly the same rate, and from exactly the same diseases, as everyone else.
Spending time with Osteen and his team, one can sense their discomfort when issues that could anger more-Âdoctrinaire Christians are raised. Don Iloff, his brother-in-law and chief of communications, almost winces when I ask Osteen his views on intelligent design versus evolution. â€œI believe that God created it all,â€ Osteen says as he stakes out his usual middle ground. â€œI donâ€™t know if itâ€™s six literal days or 6 million years.â€
Osteenâ€™s message of prosperity doesnâ€™t always go over well either. Fellow megapastor Rick Warren has called the idea that God wants everybody to be rich â€œbaloney.â€ And some conservative Christian ministers have been quick to dismiss Osteen as a lightweight or, worse, a heretic. Osteen adamantly believes that â€œGod wants to give you your own house,â€ explaining, â€œHeâ€™s not having financial difficulties. He owns it all.â€
Does God want everyone to be rich, or not? Why can’t the pastors agree on this? The reason they can’t agree is because God is imaginary. Anyone can make up anything they like and attribute it to God. That is the nature of the delusion.