From Chris Rosebrough's Letter of Marque:
In the late second century, Irenaeus of Lyons, wrote his classic apologetic tome Against Heresies to check, expose and combat the gnostic heresy of the Valentian sect. It is significant to note that the same scripture twisting tactics of the gnostic heretics are still being employed by today's heretics. Said Irenaeus, heretics:
"... adapt the good words of revelation to their own wicked inventions. And it is not only from the writings of the evangelists and the apostles that they endeavour to derive proofs for their opinions by means of perverse interpretations and deceitful expositions: they deal in the same way with the law and the prophets, which contain many parables and allegories that can frequently be drawn into various senses, according to the kind of exegesis to which they are subjected. And others of them, with great craftiness, adapted such parts of Scripture to their own figments, lead away captive from the truth those who do not retain a steadfast faith in one God, the Father Almighty, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God."The persons perpetrating deceitful expositions are still around. They were then, and they are still doing it now. Joel Osteen is one. The Albany NY Times Union reports below on a recent event. I can't call it a revival and I can't call it a crusade and I can't call it a sermon. Osteen holds events:
12,000 relate to Osteen's pep talk
"For more than two hours, Pastor Joel Osteen wrapped 12,000 people in a warm embrace at the Times Union Center with his massively successful brand of feel-good "prosperity theology." Backed by a rock band and a heavily produced show that was more Broadway than tent revival, his message traded fire and brimstone for the equivalent of a corporate motivational speech. He was all praise and no damnation."
Osteen consistently demurs in preaching sin. He boasts that his cavernous Lakewood arena does not "have a churchy feel" and he deliberately declines to put crosses there so as not to cause an offense that would hinder someone from coming. (source).
"On the December 23, 2007, edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday brought up Osteen's lack of Scripture reference in his sermons, as well as his hesitancy to discuss sin as an integral part of life. Osteen responded: "And I am ultimately trying to do that, but I'm trying to teach people how to live their everyday lives, and so I do focus on it, probably not as much as some people would like." Osteen says that he chooses to focus on the goodness of God rather than sin." (source)
Of focusing on only one part of the Gospel to the exclusion of others, Paul said,
"For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." (Acts 20:27).
Here is an explanation of that verse from Albert Barnes, 1798-1870, and an explanation as to why some preachers fail to preach the whole counsel of God. Though Barnes wrote this 160 years ago, it applies to Osteen today in a most uncanny way-
"have not shunned - I have not kept back; I have not been deterred by fear, by the desire of popularity, by the fact that the doctrines of the gospel are unpalatable to people, from declaring them fully. The proper meaning of the word translated here, "I have not shunned", is "to disguise any important truth; to withdraw it from public view; to decline publishing it from fear, or an apprehension of the consequences." Paul means that he had not disguised any truth; he had not withdrawn or kept it from open view, by any apprehension of the effect which it might have on their minds."
"Truth may be disguised or kept back:
(1) By avoiding the subject altogether from timidity, or from an apprehension of giving offence if it is openly proclaimed; or,
(2) By giving it too little prominency, so that it shall be lost in the multitude of other truths; or,
(3) By presenting it amidst a web of metaphysical speculations, and entangling it with other subjects; or,
(4) By making use of other terms than the Bible does, for the purpose of involving it in a mist, so that it cannot be understood.
People may resort to this course:
(1) Because the truth itself is unpalatable;
(2) Because they may apprehend the loss of reputation or support;
(3) Because they may not love the truth them selves, and choose to conceal its prominent and offensive points;
(4) Because they may be afraid of the rich, the great, and the frivolous, and apprehend that they shall excite their indignation; and,
(5) By a love of metaphysical philosophy, and a constant effort to bring everything to the test of their own reason. People often preach a philosophical explanation of a doctrine instead of the doctrine itself They deserve the credit of ingenuity, but not that of being open and bold proclaimers of the truth of God.
Osteen fits all of the above. Most importantly, by Osteen's own admission, fails to preach the entire counsel of God. Let's look at some self-described approaches to preaching that Osteen himself has stated, and compare them to scripture:
In Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, Osteen wrote, “Our words are vital in bringing our dreams to pass. It’s not enough to simply see it by faith or in your imagination. You have to begin speaking words of faith over your life. Your words have enormous creative power. The moment you speak something out, you give birth to it.”
Isaiah would differ with that approach. He said of his mouth, "Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."
Osteen's Web site says -"The Power of Words-“Your words affect your future. Speaking God's Word over your life can help you to live the life of victory that God has in store for you.”
Isaiah says, "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things." (Isaiah 59:2-3)
In Diana Keough’s interview from FaithfulReader.com, she asked about Osteen's then New York Times #1 bestseller Your Best Life Now. Osteen stated: “The main reason I decided to write it was to help people enjoy their life and to realize God has a good plan. I wanted people to see that you can be happy today --- that you can bloom where you're planted and enjoy your life right now.”
Solomon had some things to say about accumulating wealth and pleasure and happiness based on ephemeral earthly things of now, instead of pursuing the eternal:
"I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me."
"I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 2:4-11)
Osteen said each day “you should declare good things. Just look in the mirror and say ‘I am strong, I am healthy, I’m rising to new levels, I’m excited about my future.’ ” (Joel Osteen, Discover the Champion in You, TBN, June 7, 2004).
"The image of the Lord had been replaced by a mirror.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges