ever feel like Christianity has been co-opted by the “religious right”?

…then read this great essay by Time Magazine columnist Andrew Sullivan.

Sometimes I wonder if the word “Christian” is even useful in our nation anymore. If people outside of Christianity consistently think of the wrong thing when a believer identifies himself as such, does the identifying term maintain any use? If the majority of people thought about a chicken sandwich when their friends said “hamburger,” wouldn’t someone begin to re-evaluate the usefulness of the term “hamburger?” OK, bad example, but something to think about…

————–

Somewhat related: Chrissy wakes up 15 mins. before me to get a shower (because she takes a little longer to get ready in the morning). She comes back in the room, politely covers up my sleeping eyes with the sheet, turns on the overhead light (so she can do her makeup and get dressed without stumbling around), and turns on the Today Show.

This morning I was awakened to the equally soothing voices of Katie Couric and her guest, Pastor Joel Osteen of the Lakewood Church in Houston (I blogged about Lakewood a while back here and here). Did anybody else see this? Katie first asked him what he thought the word “evangelical” meant today, since it clearly carries lots of connotations (hmmm…like another word I know…). He said he thinks he’s an evangelical because he believes in Jesus and that he died on the cross and spreads that around. Pretty textbook stuff, but fair enough.

Katie then reminds Pastor Osteen that he just signed a $13 million book deal (to be released next year…I’m waiting with bated breath…) and Lakewood rakes in $1 million in contributions from their 60,000 attendees every Sunday and $20 million from mail-in donations every year. I’m barely sitting up in bed now, reaching for my glasses, when she asks the question I would ask Osteen, were I given the opportunity:

“How do you square your Christian faith with your wealth?”

She begins to then read Jesus’ words about in Matthew (yeah, the “eye of a needle” one). She reads several other “wealth” passages, such as the “love of money is the root of all evil” one. Here’s Katie Couric reading Bible verses to the pastor of the largest church in America, asking him how he squares all the money with his Christianity because, “there seem to be some problems there.”

Osteen seemed caught off guard. He did manage to say, “It’s not about the money…” or something like that, adding that, “Jesus said ‘the love of money is the root of all evil,’ not money, so I think it’s where your heart is…” Typical stuff people say who want to keep their money, guilt-free.

Anyway, it was just a weird interview. I was proud of Katie Couric for asking the tough questions, however. My problem is this: People are getting the message that the “blessed life” in Christ is one where you have lots of money. Not only is having loads and loads and loads of money OK, it’s attributed to God. Especially if you’re a minister.

This is really, really bad theology if you’re a rich person. But what does that say about the poor? That the poor cannot be blessed by God? I started to defend Osteen as being a nice guy with good intentions to a friend of mine today, who responded in this way: “I’m almost at the point in my thinking where good intentions don’t matter if someone’s doing bad things.”

Interesting point. What do you think about the term “Christian” in America, Osteen on NBC, or my friend’s statement about intentions?

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Failed Christian on June 10, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Joel Osteen is part of a long list of pastors who misrepresent Jesus Christ. Add to that list of miscreants John Hagee, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn and Peter Popoff.

    These preachers sell Jesus-walk-on-water bath mats and John-the-Baptist shower curtains along with their specially-edited and notarized versions of the Bible to fund their lavish lifestyles and continue their fleecing of the gullible, uneducated, selfish, conniving, capitalist, racist, bigoted, rights-masticatiing, putrid exangelical right wing fanatics which adorn the charismatic Protestant Pentecostal unwashed brethren in North America.

    If you believe in the Revelation, these vermin will be “spewed out” of the mouth of God. If you don’t believe the Revelation of St. John literally, they will simply leave a legacy of shilling the ignorant of their earnings. “A fool and his money…”

    Personally, I side with Iron Maiden’s lyrics from “Can I Play With Madness”: “You’ll pay for this mischief/In this life or the next.”

    Reply

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