It seems every attack on Joel Osteen following his actions (or lack therof) following Hurricane Harvey in Houston is a thinly veiled attempt to take a shot at Christianity as a whole. Let me take the opportunity to differentiate here.
As a Lutheran, I think Joel Osteen is a charlatan and doesn’t represent Christian values, and I think most Christians outside of any sort of megachurch denomination would feel the same. Basic tenants of a Christian church such as the eucharist based in the sacraments are no where to be found in Osteen’s sanctuary. That doesn’t sound much like a church to me.
Osteen believes in Word of Faith teaching, which posits “prosperity theology.” That is to say: If you are poor, it is because you let Satan into your life. Here is where his beliefs differ. Any Christian would believe that if you do the right thing, some sort of wealth will come into your life, money being the least important of which. Believing that poor people are poor because they alone embrace Satan is wrong – that should go without saying.
Osteen’s motivation not to open his church is motivated by his own sense of protecting the profits of his teachings. His property is privately owned. Outside of any Christian tenants, he has no real civic duty to open it to the public. Shaming Joel Osteen into sharing his property because he is rich is as feeble as shaming a poor person into professing faith in God because they are poor.
The values of faith and giving can only be discovered by doing each earnestly, wholeheartedly, and without judgement. Should Osteen provide some relief to the city and to the people who have afforded him so much opportunity at wealth? Yes, and the fact that he didn’t without the public’s pressure should say all you need to know about what he actually believes.
Go ahead and bash Osteen if that’s what you want to do, but don’t use his non-Christian acts brought on by non-Christian beliefs to bash Christianity. The real blessings of God will never be found in a headline.