On the eve of the publishing of a new book, Joel Osteen is likely poised to receive much media acclaim. Searching for a sermon illustration (on how our modern-day Christianity has become so “man-centered” and “me-centered” that Christians from a century ago would hardly recognize it as the same faith), I went to a reliable source, and of course I wasn’t disappointed. The key “truth” on the front page, the first admonition, was “Discover the Champion in You”. That’s pretty much what Paul is saying in Romans 7, right? Ummm…

At any rate, tooling around just a hair, I clicked on the “Watch a Broadcast” link. I saw one title that, sadly, didn’t surprise me, but which I had to listen to: The Power of Visualization. To the uninitiated, this might sound like a benign thing; to those who understand the word, the picture is far different. Visualization, in short, is an occult practice, heavily used in New Age literature. The idea is that we create reality by virtue of “creating the right mental pictures”, that the very process of imagining a thing to be true will cause it to be true. And so when I saw that Joel was going to preach on this, I wondered if there’d be any way he’d turn this into something that could remotely be Christian (deep down, I knew he couldn’t).

And so I clicked on the link, and watched (I’m actually wrapping up just now). In short, anyone who thinks that Joel’s words are remotely Christian needs to shore up their woefully deficient understanding of what the Bible teaches (as does Joel). He’s a nice guy, tells a good joke, keeps the audience’s attention, but he horribly, horribly twists Scripture, and while I know I’ve posted on him before, it must be said from time to time, given his immense popularity, that this man, perhaps ignorantly, is leading multiplied hundreds of thousands terribly astray. If you dare, listen to his message on The Power of Visualization for an example of Joel Osteen, lying with a nice smile.

7 responses »

  1. Don says:

    No thanks. I prefer just to visualize it.

  2. Byron says:

    But…then you would see it! Isn’t that how it works?

  3. Dwayne says:

    The Bible says if you don’t have vision, you will perish.

  4. Byron says:

    Thanks for posting, Dwayne, but that’s not actually what the Bible says. The quote you refer to is Proverbs 29:18. Here are several translations, each with the surrounding verses provided as context:

    KJV17Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.

    18Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

    19A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.

    NIV17 Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.

    18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.

    19 A servant cannot be corrected by mere words; though he understands, he will not respond.

    ESV17 Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.
    18Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.
    19By mere words a servant is not disciplined,
    for though he understands, he will not respond.

    NAS17Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul.
    18Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.
    19A slave will not be instructed by words alone;
    For though he understands, there will be no response.

    When we look, then, at that verse in its context, it seems clear that the word “vision”, or “revelation”, connotes a clear word from God (not a mental picture one conjures up), and the effect that such will have on conduct. The context of the three verses is “correction”, the importance of giving attention to God’s revelation in order to have one’s life come into line with God’s will.

    It’s not enough to grasp a word, like “vision”, out of the Biblical text, and then employ it in the service of whatever meaning one chooses; we have to try to understand the Bible in its context, and to try to understand the meaning intended by the author. The Bible isn’t a “magic” book that we can vest with all sorts of meanings according to our predilections.

    And yet, even though Joel Osteen didn’t actually employ this verse in this particular message, this tactic is one that he uses with regularity; his misuse of Scripture, while I’m willing to attribute it to his lack of training in how to handle the Bible instead of some pernicious motive, is still tragic, and the best thing that Joel could do, if he wants to serve God in pulpit ministry, would be to resign his pulpit, enroll in a solid seminary where he could learn how to “rightly divide the Word of truth”, and then resume public ministry.

    Hope that helps…

  5. Dwayne says:

    And, who are you to judge whether someone’s “mental picture” is a vision or revelation or word from God?

    Perhaps you can recommend a seminary for Joel. Quick question: Did Paul go to seminary? Did any of the Disciples? mmmm – seems THEY did a pretty good job at carrying on the Gospel. Gee, I wonder if it is too big of a job for God to maybe, just maybe annoint someone like Joel all on His own.

    Oh, darn, if only Moses would have enrolled in a “solid seminary” I bet they wouldn’t have had to wander for 40 years! Someone should have told him.

  6. Byron says:

    Sorry, Dwayne, but a succession of red herrings and a heavy dose of sarcasm do not a cogent argument make.

    As to a seminary that would benefit Joel, there is no shortage of them: Trinity, Talbot, RTS, Gordon-Conwell, Denver, Phoenix, Biblical, Dallas, Southern Evangelical, any of the SBC seminaries. These would be a good start. He’s a gifted communicator, and if he’d do something like that, he’d stand a decent chance of being a help, instead of a massive hindrance, to the work of God. He means well, I think, but he’s leading multiplied thousands of people astray.

  7. Paul and Moses did not have to visualize anything because the Lord directly spoke to them. Bad examples Dwayne. Now that Joseph Smith fellow, he used visualization and it got him a whole new religion. See it works!

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