Oh my. I realized after chapter one I will never make it through this book – not only because of the horrible theology, but also the style. It is so repetitive. It is so repetitive. Oh, sorry, it’s contagious.
The introduction actually begins with a paragraph I could hear myself saying, or Bob saying. Joel reminds his readers that there is an inner voice that says to us, “you were born for better than this”. I agree, but I know where Joel is going. He means, you were born for a better job, a better car, a better house or marriage. When I say it, I mean you were born for God (like Augustine meant it).
One of the most painful sentences to read was, “God never performs his greatest feats in your yesterdays”. Ah, what about the cross. What about my adoption. I know I’m not finished yet, but the greatest feats have already been accomplished, and guess what, they were accomplished in my past. But again, Joel doesn’t have anything of the sort in mind. He means promotions, happiness, dreams coming true, running through fields of wild flowers.
Let me get past this stuff to a much more serious issue – the way Osteen uses Scripture. For example, “The Scripture teaches that we have a valuable treasure on the inside. You have a gift”. There is no citation here, but I think he is refering to 2 Corinthians 5:7. It is a great text, but Joel doesn’t do it justice. The treasure, according to Paul, is the gospel. According to Joel, its your God given dreams – “Give birth to the dreams and desires that God has placed in your heart”.
Here’s the worst, and it really shows how Osteen’s message undermines the gospel. He discusses the story of Adam and Eve after they ate the fruit and hid because of their nakedness. He writes, “I love the way God answered them. He said, ‘Adam, who told you that you were naked?’ In other words, ‘Who told you that something was wrong with you?’ God immediately knew the enemy had been talking to them”. On the same page he talks about lies Satan tell us. Um, Joel, there was something wrong with them. They rebelled against the God and King. They plunged humanity and the cosmos into sin and frustration.
The implications are appalling. Joel is, in essence, denying sin. Adam and Eve, you sinned, but there’s nothing wrong with you! The truth is, when Satan comes to us and tells us there something wrong with us, he’s not lying. There is. We’re sinners. He seems to be more Pelagian than Pelagius himself.
One last thing, and maybe you can help me with this. He writes, “Paul responded, ‘ What if they don’t believe? Will their unbelief make the promise of God of no effect in my life?’ Paul was sayin, “If other people don’t want to believe God for better things in their lives, fine’ but that won’t keep me from believing. I know the promises of God are in me.'” Where does that come from. No citation, and I can’t figure it out.