Criticisms of Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyers prompted me to write this discourse, not in defense of their personal choices, but in defense of the value they add to a world snared by negativity and opposed to that which is not.
I write this too because one of my best strengths is my drive to delve deep into a subject or problem to understand, then to analyze, and if appropriate, to expand or present a different perspective and at times, to simplify complex material to reach a broader audience. The best example to-date has been the development of the “Connecting the Dots … with The Respect Principle” concept that was designed specifically to be logical, practical, and compassionate in order to cross all the prejudicial and potential prejudicial thought barriers, such as religion, politics, social status, race, sex, etc.
However, now as a person studying the Bible for both intellectual and spiritual reasons, I find myself diving deep into waters filled with many sharks, though some are more dangerous than most.
Since I began my study in the past few years, occasionally I have heard of or read disparaging words about televangelist Bible teachers like Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyers, labelled with malcontent as “prosperity” ministers.
At first, I wondered why there was such vehemence and condemnation of Joel and Joyce, but I have discovered as my study of the Bible grows that many of their critics focus on the financial prosperity Joel and Joyce talk about that God promises, instead of the whole prosperity … health, loving relationships, quality of life, they also reveal as God promises.
Many critics, and even more religious leaders, instead focus on the inherent sin in humanity instead of the inherent good of God … His forgiveness, His generosity, His desire to be good to His children, His gift of free will to “choose life, not death” and much more, which is in great contrast to what my previous teachers’ takes on the Bible were about. By going directly to the source, I am finding many teachings I received were often taken out of context and/or used for their own advantages, including financial gain and the oppression of those they lead.
Now, I do not agree with everything Joel and Joyce say, because like the rest of us, they are human and subject to error, interpretation, and yes, temptation; however, I also greatly appreciate their shedding light on many of the misunderstandings or misconstrued teachings of others, particularly those who are the loudest opposition to Joel, Joyce, and others like them.
As Oprah Winfrey used to say, “What I know for sure is” … I know for sure that since listening to them and others who have a more positive approach to developing a working relationship with God, I have been able to begin studying the Bible on my own, which had been difficult for me because I focused too much, as I was taught to do, on the darkness, the fear, the condemnation, etc.
Now, driven by the desire to discover the truth on this subject, as I have been on many other subjects, not only has my intellect been challenged and my intelligence enlightened, I have also finally experienced peace and hope, my heart, hardened by years of extreme harmful, damaging experiences, reinforced by harsh, negative teachings has softened, and I am becoming the best version of me to date … not all I yet want to be as a respectful, loving person, but one who rigorously believes that uplifting people, not holding them down and making them feel insignificant, devalued, disrespected, is the way, as the sciences and the humanities also now know, to help people, communities, nations, and our world to thrive.
I am no theologian, but I have already learned the Old Testament was filled with many laws because they did not have the Holy Spirit that became available, in the New Testament with Jesus’s death and resurrection, which is why in the Old Testament there was much talk of sacrifices for atonement and people so out of control that God took them out. In fact, every time I tried to read the Bible, starting from the beginning, I was stonewalled by violent acts, which until further enlightened, I could not put into a reasonable context of understanding, or even acceptance.
Nor have I read the entire Bible, yet, but the message I have received so far is loud and clear … if we are creating strife by arguing, by belittling and harming other people, we are not walking in the love the New Testament directs us to do. If religions, or religious sects, are in conflict because they believe they are more right than others, they are not walking in love as the New Testament directs above all else … even above the Ten Commandments.
As it turns out, Connecting the Dots is just as easy to do with the Bible’s contents as it was with the development of The Respect Principle when we break it down to the basics.
What is not love, is hate. What is not love, is sin. And we all sin, and like it or not, sins are all recognized equally.
Therefore, if we choose to believe in God, we have to learn about Him and His ways by going to the source material just like we have to do with spelling and arithmetic in order to function in daily living and in any other area of interest we want to develop the knowledge and skills about so we can become qualified to live the life we choose, rather than the lives others choose for us. He wants it that way too … otherwise He would not have given us free will.
So let the critics criticize Joel, Joyce, and any others who are lifting people up, helping them to feel hopeful in a world that focuses on despair, hopelessness, fear, and other negative cohorts. Like you, I don’t have to approve of or be concerned with or critical of Joel’s new luxury home or how Joyce Meyer Ministries travels to all of their events any more or less than I approve of the Vatican’s cache of financial wealth or any person with the luxuries afforded by great financial wealth, but not yet the understanding that the vast wealth was not given to them for themselves only, but to help address the whole world’s needs. Instead, I have learned how important it is to pray for people who come into financial prosperity so they use it well to make the world a better place … for everyone … because not only do such acts help people with their basic human needs, more importantly, being a recipient of such kind generosity opens their heart to believing in the goodness of God and His promises. This I know from experience because it is working for me. And, then there is the fact that there is only one being with the right to judge anyone, because He knows our internal life, and that being is God.
Neighbours, it all comes down to this. Regardless of what anyone else has to say, bad or good, the choice is ours to make. It does not matter the many different paths or the many different people we follow until we get to the source personally. What is important is that we do get to the source to discover, for ourselves, the personal truths awaiting us, including the many kinds of prosperity God, who is love, yields.
Getting to the Source
June 28, 2016
Kaitlin Ann Trepanier … Administration, Communications, Project Professional and Respect Specialist
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