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I was reading a Tim Keller’s book, The Counterfeit Gods, which talks about the idols that embedded in our subconscious. In introduction Tim Keller, as usual, criticized the idea in which people overly pursue personal achievement and financial prosperity without knowing that it can be an idols. Somehow this reminds me of Joel Osteen’s prosperity gospel and I wanted to check him out again. I pick up his best seller, Your Best Life Now, and started reading again little bit and I was wondering where he got all his ideas. So I was interested in checking what kind of seminary he went to. Interestingly I found from wikipedia, that he never been to any seminary. Here is the quote:

“It has been widely reported that Osteen attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a two year period without receiving a degree. Likewise, it has been reported that he has no higher level training in religious matters or Bible studies. In an appearance on Piers Morgan Tonight in January, 2011, Osteen mentioned that he had never attended seminary.”

No wonder that he partially interpret the bible and uses it for his message. For example he usually emphasize “God’s best” and refer Ephesian 2:7 and says “God wants to pour out His far and beyond favor. God wants this to be the best time of your life.” But if you check the full text the Bible says, “… made us alive together with Christ. he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace … in Christ.” There could be some translation difference, but what is common and what Joel Osteen is omitting, intentionally I think, is “with Christ” and “in Christ”.

Based on the news about it and all the statistics on his ministry I admit he is very influential person in very positive and inspirational way, which is good and what we need these days. But do not mix this with Christianity. You may argue what kind of Christianity is real Christianity? Well, this is tough question, but I would say here I mean that the Christianity that has been consent with many people over the first thousand year since its birth. This is what C.S. Lewis called, “Mere Christianity.” Based on the teaching of this Christianity you may judge Joel Osteen.

The reason that I am showing some interests in Joel Osteen is that I met a lady in my church, Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, who carries one of Joel Osteen’s book and she seems a kind of sharing with other people in the church. I think that she is not the only one. This reveals many facts: first there is no proper education on false teaching on Christianity in the church. second, some people in the church have no theological discernment to tell the truth and false teaching. Three, the influence of media and popular culture seem more penetrating in the faith community than we think.