Saturday, December 23, 2006


Last night, ABC re-aired the Barbara Walters special "Heaven: Where Is It? How Do We Get There?". The special included interviews with several religious leaders, among them Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the Dalai Lama and Pastor Joel Osteen. According to ABC:

Osteen's televised sermons attract about 7 million viewers on Sunday mornings, and 36,000 evangelicals pack his Lakewood church in Houston every week, the largest weekly religious gathering in the country.

There is much to appreciate in Pastor Osteen's message -- which is positive and hope-filled. We need more of this in our world. But, I do have a critique.

Early in the interview with Walters, Osteen states he believes in the Bible literally. Later in the show, he speaks favorably of prosperity and is seen praying for people to get promotions, raises and bonuses.

From my reading of the Gospels, seeking material wealth is what Christ says we are not to do -- if we are taking a literal interpretation of Christ's words. I am specifically thinking of the following passages from the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 6:24-26; 12:13-21; 16:13-15, 19-31; 18:9-14, 15-25; 1:50-53.

This is from Luke (18:18-25):

An official asked him this question, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother.'"

And he replied, "All of these I have observed from my youth."

When Jesus heard this he said to him, "There is still one thing left for you: sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

But when he heard this he became quite sad, for he was very rich.

Jesus looked at him (now sad) and said, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!

For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."

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