Sunday, March 16, 2008

Money Cometh and Self Esteem Ruleth

Wow. Hi-Def is a real eye-opener.

TBN is a real window into "America's Religion": the worship of entertainment, money, and self-esteem.

Now, being a loyal son of the Pelican State, let me share with y'all a Louisiana preacher named Dr. Leroy Thompson. Here are his various books you can buy. Every single one deals with money. This one's title could come right off of a Saturday Night Live skit.

You know, there was a Reformation set off by shysters far less offensive than these guys. At least Johann Tetzel promised absolution of sins. At least he was talking about something theological. These modern-day TV jokers aren't even talking about the removal of sin, but rather openly promising riches based on superstition and New Age positive thinking - cloaked blasphemously in the name of our Blessed Lord.

Thompson's TV show is an infomercial about how God wants you to get rich (and, of course, buy Dr. Thompson's book). There was footage from his "church" in which the huge audience was standing on its feet twitching, jerking, and jumping up and down chanting "Money cometh to me!" while the Reverend Doctor Thompson ran back and forth like Richard Simmons on espresso. It is pure unadulterated evil. There is nothing resembling Christianity in this nonsense. But a lot of people think this is what Christianity is. One of my relatives once asked me if I holler and yell and run around when I'm preaching. She thinks that's what Christianity is because that's what the crooks on TV portray it as.

Next on TBN: Joel Osteen. I had never actually seen the man "preach." I've seen his books while standing in line at Wally World - in English and in Spanish. I've seen stacks and stacks of them at Barnes & Noble with his grinning mug and shallow titles. I know the guy's "church" in Houston is massive. I know that his wife is also a "pastor." I also know that he thinks Mormonism is a denomination within Christianity (and thus considers the doctrine of the Trinity a minor detail that he "hasn't studied" and "doesn't get hung up on").

Anyway, there was the well-known preacher right there in front of us in Hi-Def, so Mrs. Hollywood and I decided to give him a whirl.

Wow! This guy is as full of it as a Christmas goose! It's no wonder the building is crammed to the rafters like a Super Bowl. Unlike the yelling and and strutting preachers, Osteen is soft spoken and takes a different tack than the emotional screamers.

He cited short, touchy-feely bromides like: "No-one can take your self-esteem without your permission" which he essentially lifted (without attribution) from Eleanor Roosevelt.

He went on and on telling mindless apocryphal stories like: "I once read about a guy who was missing a leg..." or "I remember this lady who was having a big problem with..." followed by anecdotes that had nothing to do with Christianity. It was all nothing more than psychobabble and feel-good pap. Over and over, Osteen claims that our problem, our biggest problem, the theological problem that plagues mankind is... sin? Oh, heck no. The biggest problem is our lack of self esteem.

Lack of self-esteem. We're not selfish enough. We don't think highly enough of ourselves.

Yeah, that's definitely it. Osteen's cram-packed facility worth millions in Houston, packed to the rafters is filled with people who aren't full of themselves enough. In Houston. Okay. Got it.

The show went on and on as the man smiled, told stories, and said not a word about Jesus until the last ten seconds of the program with a hasty "altar call" of a sort.

Of course, people are free to believe anything they want. People are free to put their faith in flimflam men and hucksters - for those who fall for that kind of thing typically have some stake in believing in them. If people want to make self-esteem and Mammon their faith, that is their business. But what annoys me is that they falsely wrap it in the label of "Christianity" and christen it with the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is no wonder preachers are today seen as hucksters. A whole lot of them are.

Come, Lord Jesus!

6 comments:

Dixie said...

My husband was channel surfing last night and stopped long enough for us to hear the last 10 minutes of Joel last night. It made me cringe to hear such wicked things preached in the name of "Christianity". The whole "don't let anyone put you down because you are a thoroughbred--you have royal blood pulsing through your veins" smacked of the need for oneupmanship...to grab on to something to say "I am better than someone else because..." What kind of nonsense is that? He must increase, I must decrease ...that's what needs to happen to ME with the royal blood pulsing through my veins.

And this on top of the study lesson I had on Romans 5 yesterday morning about rejoicing in our sufferings. Joel's preaching is in direct contradiction to the Scriptures!

For me it is a struggle to understand how much error can be present and a group still be considered Christian but it isn't so difficult to see these Prosperity Gospel, "you're good enough and smart enough and dog gone it, people like you" Stuart Smalley type preachers have crossed over the line.

Just the night before we saw a 20/20 episode of a wall street trader who ultimately lost his job and became a bank robber. He had been going to a prayer group every Tuesday night before he lost his job but quit going because every Wednesday he would get crushed and lose money. God, for him, was like the Genie in Aladin's lamp. Where could he possibly get this kind of understanding?

Christians don't talk enough about martyers anymore. A few stories about the martyers pretty much shoots holes in the expectation that God wants me to drive a Lexus.

Don in Texas said...

What I find amazing about Joel Osteen is that he thinks Christians are special, that they have some kind of special relationship with God. He thinks that Christians should be joyful because of what Jesus did for them. Doesn't he know that Christians are pitiful little people who should go through life suffering, not just for Christ's sake, but just because God likes it when we suffer. Where does Osteen get off thinking that God really loves those that love His Son!?!?!?! I agree with you guys. God doesn't give a hoot about us until we die.

Father Hollywood said...

Dixie:

Well and eloquently said, Madam!

Father Hollywood said...

Don in Texas:

A man left my congregation many years ago in search of a church that teaches the kind of feel-good claptrap Osteen preaches.

He found one.

But first, he told a sick member of my flock that she was not getting better because "she didn't have enough faith." Her faith was nearly wrecked by this guy. Fortunately, she did recover, and remains a faithful Christian.

Sadly, this same fellow is now watching his wife die of cancer - still clinging to the belief that God will not let her die because of their "strong faith."

That's what comes of this "name it and claim it" so-called "prosperity gospel."

The Psalms of David do not sound like Joel Osteen.

Osteen and those like him are a racket, plain and simple. And if you can't see it, then please feel free to send Salem Lutheran Church a check for as much money as you have in the bank trusting that God will reward you with a miracle. I mean, come on. Neither Jesus nor St. Paul never preached anything of the sort (though P.T. Barnum did).

God loves us. He sent us His Son to die for us. We are redeemed and offered eternal life. But we are never promised that we will never get sick, die, suffer family problems or financial catastrophe. In fact, we are told that if we are faithful, we will be persecuted. We will bear crosses.

If you are a wealthy Christian, good for you. Jesus died for you. If you are a poor Christian, good for you. Jesus died for you too. Even if you are an unbeliever, Jesus died for you. Poverty is not a symbol of divine rejection.

You will not get rich quick by sending Bob Tilton a $1,000 "vow of faith" (though that's how Bob got rich) You will not get your pancreatic cancer cured if you let Benny Hinn blow on you in front of a TV camera.

Osteen is not preaching the Gospel. He is a crook, and anyone who believes that nonsense is being gulled. And deep down, you know it's true - which is why I suspect you are making your comments anonymously.

When you're ready for real Christianity, find a real church where the real Gospel is preached, where real pastors make real visits to people's sick beds and give them real Holy Communion and real everlasting life.

Until then, I guess you can keep watching the entertainment sideshows on TV, and letting the false prophets tell you what your itching ears want to hear.

Past Elder said...

When my wife was dying of cancer, a member of a local megachurch encouraged me to have them pray for her, as their pastor's wife had overcome cancer.

Pray they did.

My wife died of cancer.

Sometime later, so did the pastor's.

Mike Green said...

Go to Pr. Leroy's site (http://leroythompson.net/).

On the left side of the home page, there are about a dozen navigational links. As one might expect at this type of site, the link labeled "Salvation" is at the bottom (second from).

The real hoot is that the "Salvation" link is disabled.