I just received an email from the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego inviting me to purchase tickets for “A Night of Hope” with Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen.
“A Night of Hope” with Joel and Victoria Osteen is an outreach of Joel Osteen Ministries and is an exciting time of praise and worship where attendees will hear an inspirational message from Joel and Victoria along with the electrifying music of Dove Award winning Cindy Cruse Ratcliff, Steve Crawford, Da’dra Greathouse, and the Lakewood Bandand Ensemble.
Joel and Victoria Osteen are pastors for a new generation. Referred to by many as a voice of hope, they reach one of the largest audiences in the U.S. and across the globe. . . .”
Tempting as it may be, I think I’ll pass driving the 13 hours to San Diego to catch Joel and Victoria share their inspirational message of hope. And, hope is what they are selling. Literally. It will cost you $15 to experience all that the Osteens have to offer. While that doesn’t sound like much (the price or the offer), Joel and Victoria have found a way to sell hope to a “new generation.”
It’s easy for these “pastors” to sell hope to a “new generation,” particularly when those who are members of this generation are largely Biblically illiterate. Not that the Osteens are Bible scholars by any stretch of the imagination (just watch any of the painful interviews that the Osteens have given to Larry King), but they certainly know how to twist Scripture in such a way as give the illusion that the hope that they are selling is the real deal.
However, what the Osteens are selling is not real hope (Hope is, after all, a person — Jesus Christ). And, the inspirational messages of hope that Joel and Victoria continue to peddle will not change the lives of those whose ears continue to be tickled. The Apostle Paul would not be amused.
I do have to give credit to Mr. Osteen for his remarkable ability to communicate in such a way that most people who listen (in person and on television) to him speak do not have any idea of just how horribly he butchers God’s Word.
I do not make it a habit to watch Joel Osteen, but I do occasionally linger on his show when I am channel surfing. Every now and then, I like to watch for a few minutes — that is all I can really stomach — to see and hear how he has managed to rip Scripture out of context. Such was the case earlier this week when I heard Joel so mangle the inerrant, inspired Word of God that he turned King Ahab into a man of faith!
Anyone with a passing knowledge of the Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures (which Joel or someone on his research staff should have) would quickly recognize that King Ahab was Israel’s most evil king:
“And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. . . . And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.” 1 Kings 16:30, 33 (ESV)
Ahab was a faithless king who worshipped the false god Baal. With his blessing, Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, killed the LORD’s prophets. No where in Scripture can you find a positive word concerning Ahab or Jezebel. Well, that is until now. Leave it to Joel Osteen to find an inspirational message about Ahab.
My wife and I could not believe what we heard come out of Mr. Osteen’s mouth. Now granted, I have heard some pretty amazing (and non-Biblical) things spew forth from this man, but this was truly unbelievable. I recorded the end of Joel’s message so that I would not misquote what he said about King Ahab.
Concluding his feel-good message, Mr. Osteen used the first part of 1 Kings 18:42 (“So Ahab went up to eat and to drink”) as his proof-text for arguing that Ahab was a man of faith, celebrating what God was about to do in his life. In Joel’s mind, Ahab went out and “prepared a great feast.” Why did he prepare this great feast? Because he had faith in the word that the prophet Elijah had given to him, namely that it would begin to rain. Given that Israel was in the midst of a 3 1/2 year drought, this was significant.
However, the context within which Elijah’s “word” came to Ahab was following the confrontation of Elijah with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel and slaughter of those prophets. Elijah was mocking King Ahab, telling him to go get something to eat and drink before it started raining and the king got all wet.
No where in Scripture does it say that Ahab prepared a feast because he believed the word of Elijah that is was going to rain. However, Joel Osteen so twists the Word of God to suit his own shallow purposes that he has turned Ahab into some sort of man of deep faith and conviction. I wish I was making this up, but here are Joel’s own words:
“That took a lot of nerve to prepare a feast in the midst of the drought. Other people complaining, negative, depressed, bitter. Here’s Ahab over here celebrating. This is what faith is all about. You can’t wait to see it, then you’re going to believe. You have to believe and then you’ll see it. I’m asking you to do like Ahab. Get your hopes up. Start celebrating what God is about to do.”
I truly have never heard a supposedly Christian pastor exhort someone to “do like Ahab.” What hope did Ahab have? What celebration was there for this evil, wicked king? Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, were opponents of the one true God — Yahweh — and they continued to oppose God’s prophet, Elijah. How any of this was a cause of hope and celebration for Ahab is beyond my comprehension.
But, apparently not beyond Joel Osteen’s comprehension. That neither Mr. Osteen nor anyone on his staff, including “Pastor” Victoria, could comprehend that using King Ahab as a positive example of faith is not only wrong, but spiritually deluded. The reason for this delusion may just be that the Osteens are already following Joel’s advice to “do like Ahab (and Jezebel). But, I don’t think that’s anything to celebrate!