Friday, September 5, 2014

On Victoria Osteen's Remarks

A lot of Christians are upset by Victoria Osteen’s claim that we worship God so that we can be happy.  See here.  Victoria Osteen is the wife of megachurch pastor Joel Osteen.  She recently said that God wants us to worship him, not to benefit him, since he does not need our worship, but rather so that we can be happy.  God, as one who is loving, desires our happiness.

Personally, I’m surprised by all of the outrage, for, over the years, I have heard similar statements to that made by Victoria Osteen within evangelicalism and Christianity.  C.S. Lewis made such a point in Reflections on the Psalms: that God does not want praise because of any insecurity on his part, but rather because praise is his gift to us—-we benefit from it.   I have heard evangelicals make similar points, as they refer to evangelical outlets that they have heard and read.

What’s more, God in Psalm 51 says that he does not even need our sacrifices, for God already owns all the animals!  Worship is for our benefit, not God’s.

I would say that Victoria Osteen’s comments are a bit one-sided, but not wrong.  God has an agenda of hallowing his name and renewing creation, and I believe that we should honor and join God in what God is doing.  That’s what the Lord’s Prayer is about.  But God is loving and desires our personal happiness, and that, in my opinion, highlights—-not so much ourselves—-but God’s love, the love that we should imitate by desiring other people’s happiness.  As Rick Warren said in Purpose-Driven Life, it’s not all about you.  But I still think that you and your happiness and well-being are important to God.

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