Jesus said on the Mount of Olives (Matt. 24) that deception would be the primary cultural sign of the last days. Even some of God’s “elect” might be deceived by false theologies. “Good would be called evil and evil good” (Isaiah 5:20). Men would substitute light for darkness and darkness for light. Apostasy would consume churches and denominations that were once solid.
Mocked and derided across the cultural spectrum, the message of “health and wealth” enjoys wider support than one might imagine.
Prosperity-oriented teachers (including Roberts, the Bakkers, and Tilton) climbed to the top of the televangelist heap and suffered heavily during the "Pearlygate" scandals of the late '80s. But even from the ashes of scandal, the Prosperity message rose again and gained new momentum. Bowler notes two major changes that extended its longevity. First, the ascent of a smoother, more sophisticated "soft prosperity" message—touted by more relaxed, corporate figures like Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, and Paula White—replaced the more theologically-explicit "hard prosperity" teachings of an earlier generation.
The following is an excerpt from the book, ERADICATE: BLOTTING OUT GOD IN AMERICA, chapter 13 – Counterfeit Christianity. Olive Tree carries this in our "store" online. Find it here.
Author, televangelist, and senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, Joel Osteen seems like a very likeable and well-meaning Christian man. His ministry reaches about seven million people every week in countries around the world through radio and television. Prior to October 3, 1999, Osteen produced the church’s television program for seventeen years. With no biblical education or experience, Joel Osteen succeeded his father. Prior to his father’s death, Joel had only preached once in his entire life and had no theological training.
The millennial generation's much-talked-about departure from church might lead those of us over 30 to conclude that they have little interest in Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Unfortunately, their spiritual coming of age has coincided with many Protestant pastors relying on a consumer business model to grow and sustain their churches. This template for doing church and the millennials' hunger for authenticity has caused an ideological collision.
NOTE: This ministry has called on evangelicals to stick to gospel preaching and teaching for a decade and stop the social gospel train. We are delighted to see that not all evangelicals are responding to the NAE-driven agenda for immigration, global warming, social justice, etc.
Merritt notes that some prominent officials of evangelical groups, often working through the Evangelical Immigration Table, have toiled strenuously for immigration legislation. But they have failed to excite their constituency:
Lights, camera, action!
To boost the mood for the Praise and Worship segment of the service, a large number of churches feature a worship leader and several backup singers accompanied by a live band. I've been in services where the Praise Band could be the opening act for Switchfoot!
To help spice up worship, a team of want-to-be actors treat the audience to a short skit that ties in with the message (sermon). As the lights dim and the actors scurry off stage, a hip cool pastor wearing skinny jeans, a logo T-shirt, and a five o'clock shadow ambles out to preach the "new" Good News. Hip cool pastors aren't your average run of the mill ministers.