I grew up during the 1980s when, unfortunately, many televangelists fell victim to scandal.
The defrocked ministers Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker were major pop culture figures from the decade. Their sprawling ministries earned millions and brought both in close contact with temptation neither could resist.
Bakker later wrote a book renouncing his past teachings on prosperity theology.
In the 1996 book, “I Was Wrong,” Bakker described reading the Bible all the way through for the first time while in prison. That made him realize he had taken certain passages out of context — passages which he had used as “proof texts” to back up his prosperity teachings.
I mention this topic as it relates to Joel Osteen. Senior pastor for Lakewood Church in Houston, Osteen, 48, is also a best-selling author whose ministry reaches over seven million broadcast media viewers weekly in over 100 nations around the world.
He is a millionaire who unabashedly espouses prosperity theology. That makes some uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable.
The focus on prosperity has been harshly criticized by leaders of mainstream evangelicalism as a non-scriptural doctrine or as an outright heresy. Secular commentators allege that leaders of the movement take advantage of their followers.
That Osteen never attended seminary and has no high-level training in theology or Bible studies has made him a controversial figure. He was sharply criticized in this Oct. 6 column.
I certainly don’t believe a man or woman of God needs to take an oath of poverty, but on the other hand, the pursuit of financial reward seems at odds with genuine religious teaching and worship.
What do you think?