Posted on : 10-07-2008 | By : Andy | In : Calvinism / Arminianism, pop culture, religion
Tags: free will, joel osteen
I got an email from Joel Osteen today, telling me I could pay $15 to come hear him tell me how much God wants me to get rich. Um, no thanks. But it did get me searching the Internet again to see if anyone else has caught on how much Joel Osteen really isn’t at all about the Gospel or the God of Scripture. And I found Nathan White commenting on Joel Osteen.
Unfortunately, while he starts out OK, he turns this into a plug for Calvinism? Where the heck did that come from!?!
“I must say that Arminianism, or an emphasis on free will, is certainly (emphasis mine) the root of this man-centered approach by Osteen. Sure, not all Arminians take their free will theology to his extreme, but most certainly he is only acting consistent with this foundational belief. When man is that captain of his own ship; when man gets to decide if he deems his Creator worth the time to submit to and worship; when man’s sinfulness is covered up to the point where he still has the innate goodness within to make the most important ‘decision’ in all of eternity; when God’s kingdom is more like a self-help club which members choose to enter into as they see fit, then these types of ministers and messages will only continue to flourish. This is precisely why we should proclaim God’s sovereignty in all situations, whenever possible.
This is certainly a gross exaggeration. Let me break it down: free will states that our will is capable of choosing between right and wrong, not that we get to decide God’s role, or make our own salvation. To claim that our ability to actually make choices somehow diminishes our need for (or the efficacy of) Grace is completely and utterly wrong. Arminianism != a self-help gospel.
Sure, it is certain that determinism doesn’t leave room for self-help theology, but that doesn’t mean that Joel Osteen’s bad doctrine is merely the result of him believing in free will. If you drink motor oil it will kill you, but if you put it in your car it will keep your engine running smoothly. In either case, reason demands that we attribute the outcome to you, not the oil. If you turn Arminianism into a self-help gospel, you’re to blame, not Arminianism.
Nevertheless, if you want me to proclaim God’s sovereignty whenever possible… “God’s sovereignty means that He is making Joel Osteen preach this health-and-wealth message,” so don’t complain when God’s will is being accomplished. Quit fighting against it! Why must you kick against the goads?!
Joel Osteen may be wrong and Arminian, but his being wrong is not the natural result of his being Arminian.