October 31, 2014

The Bad News of Self-Righteousness

By Chaplain Mike

My reliable source for the culture war, prosperity gospel, and all things “trend-a-gelical” is The Christian Post. They call themselves “the nation’s most comprehensive Christian news website…delivering up-to-date news, information, and commentaries relevant to Christians across denominational lines.” Actually, most of the time it’s like walking into a bad Christian bookstore with mostly bargain book quality material.

Nevertheless, it keeps me informed about what’s happening in some of the main rings of the evangelical circus.

Exhibit A: today’s article about Joyce Meyer, with the tagline, “Charismatic televangelist and bestselling author Joyce Meyer on Thursday opened up about the death of her younger brother David as part of a message on the life of self-pity versus the life of diligence and faith.”

I usually don’t bother commenting on such prosperity gospel mavens as Meyer, but this message is such a glaring example of the false “American Gospel” and prosperity message of self-righteousness that I am making an exception.

In Thursday’s message at the C3 Conference at Fellowship Church in Dallas, Joyce Meyer got personal. She told the sad story of her brother, a Marine Corps veteran who became addicted to drugs and whose life turned into a series of bad choices spiraling down to a tragic death. His decomposed body was found after Christmas in an abandoned building after he had gone missing for thirty days. He left only a few meager personal effects.

My jaw dropped when I read her comment. She said, “My personal effects and his personal effects are sadly different. What are your personal effects going to be when your time here is up?” Apparently a person’s life DOES consist in the abundance of his possessions.

This contrast became the sum and substance of her message: what made her life different from her brother’s?

Her text was John 5, the story of the paralyzed man at the Pool of Bethesda whom Jesus healed. When Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed, he responded with self-pity, complaining, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” (5:7) For thirty-eight years, the man had laid there without being healed.

Joyce Meyer likened this to what her brother did. “He (David) just wanted to lay by the pool another year, feel sorry for himself, blame somebody and remain crippled.”

Even though Meyer herself experienced sexual abuse at the hands of her father and had a difficult childhood, she chose another direction. Even though the crippled man in the gospel story couldn’t move much, Meyer suggested he could have at least wiggled to the edge of the pool. Applying this to herself, she testified, “I got tired of laying by the pool and I decided to wiggle.”

So, this is the application: “I think sometimes God has a miracle for people but he sees if they’re going to wiggle first,” she said. “Next time you’re having a pity party and want to give up, I hope the Holy Ghost whispers in your ear, wiggle!” Or, as the Christian Post summarizes the point of her talk: “it’s up to the person’s determination to follow God’s plan, not his circumstances, that allow him to reap God’s promises.”

And finally, the inevitable prosperity gospel mantra: “God operates on the seed principle of faith, Meyer pointed out. No matter how pathetic the attempt is, if we try our best then God will bless us, she said.”

Return of the Prodigal, Sorley

This is classic. So classic.

First, draw a stark dramatic contrast that captures the audience’s emotions and defines the “winners” and “losers.” On the one hand you have Joyce Meyer’s brother, who made an absolute mess of his life (read her message for details—and believe me, they are gory), and met the most tragic, dreadful end imaginable. LOSER. On the other hand, you have the hero—Ms. Meyer herself—world-renowned preacher and wealthy, happy Christian celebrity, with millions of books sold and TV programs broadcast all over the world, who overcame the worst odds and achieved the greatest success. WINNER.

Second, find a Biblical story that has a line or two that seems to apply and which confirms your point and your audience’s prejudices. The only line in the Gospel story that seems to apply at all to Meyer’s personal narrative is the complaint uttered by the paralytic. And she interprets it in remarkably American “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” terms. You see, this man’s problem was not that he was paralyzed, but rather that he was expecting others to help him rather than try to help himself. And so he just laid there (for 38 years!) griping and complaining.

[Joyce! I want to shout. The man was paralyzed! He DID need someone to help him! Maybe it's even part of the story's lesson that a man like that could lie near the Temple for years without receiving any help.]

Meanwhile, the audience is nodding and agreeing. We all know people like that lazy paralytic! Won’t move a muscle to help themselves!

Question: Where’s the grief over Joyce Meyer’s brother’s death? If that happened to my brother, I would be devastated; probably so profoundly saddened by it that I couldn’t speak. Instead, less than two months after her brother was found, we not only get a profusion of words, we get a message that roundly condemns him for his wasted life and needless death. Condemnation! You can’t call it anything else. The big brother of Jesus’ Prodigal Son parable apparently has a sister.

Third, leave the Biblical story altogether and make your own point, condemning the sinner and exalting the righteous. Somehow Meyer introduces the idea that this man had the capacity to at least “wiggle” himself over to the water by himself, but he refused to do it. Would you be surprised if I told you that is nowhere in the text? No, I’m not surprised either. Because this is not about understanding and living in the Biblical story, this is about making my story the most important thing, and forcing everything to fit to that. This is about taking the place of the Pharisee and saying, “Look at me. I did it right. But not him. He blew it when he had the chance. See here, the results prove it. Thank God I’m not like him!”

Fourth, drive home your point and motivate your audience to pursue this self-righteousness by trying harder, doing more, giving more. If you read the Gospel story, you don’t read anything about the paralytic’s faith, determination, willingness to “wiggle,” or any such thing. He simply utters his sad story, then Jesus takes over completely and says, “Get up and walk!” And the man does! This is not about making the right choices, being determined to lay hold of God’s blessing, or any such thing. It’s about Jesus and his power to heal with sovereign, loving grace, period.

But Joyce Meyer and those who preach the bad news of self-righteousness are not interested in Jesus. They only care about disseminating the great American dogmas of personal effort, positive thinking, and opulent prosperity. They care only about condemning those who won’t “wiggle” when they should be trying to pull themselves up out of the mire. Through our faith and determination, we have become winners, they proclaim. You can become winners too, if you’ll just get off your butts and do something to get God’s attention.

This is most definitely NOT good news in the spiritual sense. It has nothing to do with Biblical Christianity. It serves only to enrich the prosperity preachers and enslave the audience in legalistic and moralistic self-righteousness. It is Christ-less, grace-less, hopeless “Christianity.”

In contrast, Jesus announced, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”—the ones who have nothing to offer, who are spiritually bankrupt, who have no “wiggle” whatsoever in them. They have no “seeds of faith” to plant. They are the helpless ones, who have no resources whatsoever. They are the prisoners who can do nothing to set themselves free, the incurably blind, the lame who cannot move move a muscle to get into the pool when the angel stirs the waters. The message of self-righteousness has nothing to offer these people—who by the way represent all of us, you and me, and everyone who walks the face of the earth.

Joyce Meyer has disrespected the dead and done a disservice to the living with this message. Let us call it what it is—bad news of self-righteousness.

Shame on Christian Post and anyone else who promotes it.

Comments

  1. May God have mercy on both of their souls, especially the one in greater need of it.

  2. To tell the truth, I’ve never paid any attention to Joyce Meyer; I just don’t think “Christian” and “celebrity” have much to do with each other. I do remember Michael Spencer wondering what good could be done instead with all the monies that she is raking in. Thanks for inoculating me in case I get suddenly curious. Her “ministry” sounds appalling.

  3. Joyce Meyer. Yikes. What can be said about this one incident/example? And then in the next breath she will peddle her next book or advertise her next seminar/conference…

    This is how Jesus gets recast into the newest religious idol of the Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine dispensing blessings upon blessings like a divine ATM machine…

    blech…

    A good example though of how such twisted religious perspectives warp the person championing them. Joyce is one person I would not want to be like. And this incident a good indication why… :(

    • addendum

      Lord, have mercy… :(

      • when comparing stories of God’s mercy, Brennan Manning comes to mind. somehow i could see myself sitting with Brennan over coffee or some other non-alchoholic beverage & simply sharing our journey…

        i could not do so with Joyce Meyer or any of her supporters/associates…

        Jesus has been so caricatured by most of the high profile health+wealth+success preachers He no longer would be caught dead walking amongst the human rabble He came to preach the real good news…

        doesn’t that picture of her say more than just 1,000 words? it is the same feigned look of holiness one sees in Roberts or Hickey or Hinn or Hagee or Haggard or Osteen or Copeland, etal…

        the slick spiritual snake-oil syncretism bottled up for the masses to consume wrapped up in just enough Christianity as to require any disclaimer to be too fine of print to elicit caution. it could be Joyce’s brother was not at all willing to drink her kool-aid & that was the more fearful possibility. his demons something he may have been willing to deal with without ever wanting to be the happy testimony poster child of Joyce’s own construct. he probably knew manipulation & ulterior motive & being treated as a project rather than a ‘loser’ Brennan Manning would have identified with…

        anyway, the gross misuse of scripture for selfish gain something i have no tolerance for. maybe others could deal with the celebrity trappings & effectively address the error within, but i simply ignore these manipulators of the gullible. Lord Jesus, have mercy… :(

  4. One of my best friends, who has so many health problems that she has very little “wiggle”, loves Joyce Meyer’s show. So I’ve listened occasionally, read a little of her writings, tried to at least understand. Found she had some interesting things to say but something about her really bothered me. Thanks for helping me put my finger on exactly why she rubs me the wrong way. Excellent post!

  5. I can’t stand Joyce Meyer. It is amazing that she constantly gets large audiences for her lectures and books. But again, there are many people out there in the world who call themselves Christians but are duped and reach out for false teachers that tickle their ears.

    I agree, this is the type of self-righteousness I cannot stand and deserves God’s condemnation.

  6. Dare I ask for her intepretation of Lazarus and Dives?

    • I shudder to think!

      • “See, now, Jesus got it all wrong. Obviously, since Lazarus was lying in the rich man’s gates, having his sores licked with dogs, when he died, he’sthe one who went to the parching flames while Dives was lying in the bosom of Abraham, because what was in Lazarus’ pockets when he came to die?”

  7. Denise Spencer says:

    Joyce needs to go back and read the story. The man DID try to make it to the pool himself: “…while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” He didn’t have a chance alone. I love how you point out, Mike, that we should be wondering why no one helped him in all those 38 years.

    Aside from that, this is pretty unbelievable. Wow.

    • good point, Denise

    • No one helped him because people were so desperate to be healed of their own problems, it was an every-man-for-himself free-for-all as soon as people noticed the water stirring.

      • Mr. Poet’s comment gave me pause to imagine a different scene by the pool. Imagine the What-If? scene that is played out when God truly reigns, when people serve one another lovingly & with care, even & especially those who are disfigured, crippled, broken & misshapen by life are serving. In that place where Jesus reigns, by the Pool of Bethesda, we see the humble and broken actually seeing one another’s hurts and pains. Then, in the very act of seeing, reaching out and seeking to help others be healed, they experience Jesus’ healing themselves. What grief there is in losing ones we’ve loved. How sad that Meyer seems unable to touch that grief within herself.

        I’m reminded of Isaiah 53:2-ff He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

  8. I make a concerted effort to avoid all the Prosperity Gospel people and the “celebrity” types. Thanks for proving to me that the effort is worth it. That was a truly appalling sermon!

  9. Thanks for this post.

    Saddening.

  10. Words fail me.

  11. YUp, it’s all about “winners” and “losers”, just like in this good old capitalistic society.

    No wonder many people who listen to this kind of message opposed “socialized medicine” (gasp!!): if you’re poor, it’s your own stupide fault!

    I have not found a real spiritual “home” since I’ve left evangelicalism, but I do not regret my choice.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Yup, it’s all about “winners” and “losers”, just like in this good old capitalistic society.

      “Down here it’s just Winners and Losers
      And don’t get caught on the wrong side of that line…”
      — Bruce Springsteen, “Atlantic City”

  12. Finally thought of words, most people now define Christianity by her teaching, or a similar variant of it. We are only shocked because we have fled that world.

  13. Not trying to point fingers here in a complicated family situation, but letting your own brother “decompose” is striking to me.

    • Also wondering if her brother’s 38 years (by using JM’s terms and interpretations here) would have been slightly shorter if she just gave him a little push into that pool. Like, move a finger.

      • This was my thought too. Where *was* she while he was going down into the pits of darkness? He was her brother! Why was he so alone that he could go unfound for 30 days? He needed human touch, he needed mercy, he needed someone to see him and hear him.

        Part of me hears her anger through her words, and I’m just wondering if this kind of self-righteousness is the only way to save face.

        • MAYBE she was TRYING to help her brother! My goodness! How judgmental everyone is. Until you walk in someone’s shoes, you have NO ideal of what they have been through. My husband has TRIED for years~and I mean a LOT of years~to help his brother with his drug addiction. He has overdosed twice, and both times, it was my husband who took him to the hospital. And both times, God just “happened” to have my husband there to take care of him and find him. His brother wants no family around unless it’s for his convenience, so it was only by God’s grace that Mike (my husband) found him in his apartment laying with his face in his plate after overdosing. (His mom had not heard from him and asked Mike to check on him). And the second time, he was driving him around helping him look for a new apartment when his brother went into a seizure that lasted for 10 minutes. The reason for the seizure? Another drug overdose! And instead of thanking Mike for being there and saving his life a second time, he grew VERY angry…..and if looks could kill, my husband would be dead. We BEGGED the ICU nurse to keep him hospitalized until we could set up some help for him, but legally, they couldn’t. The day after his seizure, he was released and went home and started drugs again. Some people do NOT want help! Some people do NOT want to be around family or to be found. He has disappeared for days with NO ONE knowing his whereabouts or whether he was alive or dead. Then he would come back. But if something had happened to him, with some of the places he goes, his body could easily have decomposed and no one would know for quite some time. When I started reading what happened to Joyce Meyer’s brother, my mind immediately went to my brother-in-law and how it could have been him. Part of “her anger through her words” could be at him because maybe he, like my brother-in-law, wants no help. Maybe it was too early for her to really talk about this, and maybe she should have waited. But anger is born from hurt and grief. Give her a break! We pray for my brother-in-law to come to know Christ and get his life straightened out, to break the addiction of drugs and alcohol. We love him and have compassion for him. But we also hurt and grieve watching him destroy his life and bringing pain to others. And it angers us to know he could possibly hurt or kill someone while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

          This IS a website about “Jesus-shaped spirituality”. Right? So come on, people! Why all the finger-pointing and judging? Be truly shaped spiritually by Jesus!

          • Debra, my main concern is the false gospel she proclaims.

            I’m sure she was often frustrated in her efforts to help her brother. In my opinion, that still gives no excuse for going to a conference, standing before thousands of people, and reenacting the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, with her playing the Pharisee’s part.

            But beyond any personal distaste I may have for this act of disrespect, we must call her to account for proclaiming a false message of works and prosperity.

          • Debra,

            If Joyce Meyer have shown broken-heartedness, and sorrow over what had happened to her brother, then this article would have been very different.

            All of us iMonks would have gathered around offering sympathy, comforting prayers, etc.

            Instead she chose the way of the Pharisee who prayed at the same time as the tax collector. “Thank you Lord that I am not like other men.”

  14. I’ve always related more to the drug addicted “loser” brother than the I turned my life around so God blessed me “winner”. Posts like this and articles such as the Christian Post only strengthen that.

    How many people, throughout history, appeared to have gotten the shaft? To be a “loser” in worldly standards? To be lazy and never quite “pull it together”? To die a death that was shameful?

    And yet……as soon as they breathed their last breath they found themselves with Jesus anyway.

    • Well put.

    • If I could be a Christian again…it would be in this midnset. When I was a Christian…I thought Jesus loved the alcholics, drug addicts, homeless, gang members, murders, terrorsits, etc..Or has Joyce Meyer’s line of thinking more popualr and minstream in evangelicalsim than I would like to admit…

  15. Amen to everything written.

    I have always struggled with the image of this poor man being stepped over and pushed out of the way by more able bodied yet struggling individuals for decades.

    Even those with the most abysmal self interest (those who got to the water first) found healing. Isn’t God good? In the end, they didn’t have to be ‘righteous’ to receive! Amazing Grace!!

    • conanthepunctual says:

      I never thought of that before. Not one of those people who had been previously healed hung around to help someone else receive the same blessing (at least not this fella). Is there an implicit comment there about community?

  16. It is actually quite sad. Her life appears no less broken than her brother’s. She can’t mourn. How disfigured and inhuman is that? Maybe there is a common family tragedy behind all this: one which drove her brother to the horrors of drug addiction and which also drove her to the horrors of faith-prosperity workaholism.

    • I missed the detail about sexual abuse at the hands of her father. This really is a family tragedy played out through different but quite similar compulsions. I have seen people scarred by family dysfunction acting out their pain to the end of their lives. Religion can be as much of a coping mechanism as drugs and alcohol. It masks the pain. That should be a wake-up call for all of us.

      • Well said and I completely agree. My mom had a terrible childhood. Her brother choose heroin, she chose self-righteousness. Both are in a prison. I feel just as bad for Meyer in this.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Her brother choose heroin, she chose self-righteousness.

          And probably locked into each other’s choices synergistically, like a “Bitch and Nag married to a Drunk and Proud of It,” each’s “prison” feeding off and reinforcing the other’s in a closed circle.

  17. Great read. I know that according to Joyce Meyer she tried, on many occasions, to help her brother, including giving him a job. She said that he left the employment because he did not want to pay child support. While I do not agree with everything she preaches, I do not want to unjustly judge anyone, especially if I do not have all the information. But the fact that he died alone in an abandoned building, and was not found for 30 days is just downright tragic. I would love to see her show some actual compassion instead of trying to parlay his death into a life-lesson-sermon for her masses. Personally, I would have trouble sleeping at night if I knew my brother or sisters was homeless and on the street alone.

    • Brian in BC says:

      Well Marcus, that’s the problem in a nutshell…you “don’t want to unjustly judge anyone”…here’s the deal…as Christians we ARE called to judge the actions/preachings/messages of other Christians against the word of God to see how they measure up. We are called to speak out when someone preaches a “different gospel” and a “different Jesus”. It’s the attitude of “judge not” which actually COMPLETELY misses the heart of the exhortation not to judge. We are not to judge the ultimate salvation of anyone, that’s up to God but we are definitely exhorted to challenge those who’d twist the message…especially those who would purport to be speaking from the pulpit.

  18. Ted Haggard was also sexually abused. Is there a pattern here?

  19. While I agree that Mrs. Meyer’s “sermon” was, at best, disconcerting, I think there is something to be said about the fact that Christ asked the man if he wished to be well.

    “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’ ”

    Surely Christ would have known the man’s heart and desire? If not, I think it’s a normal assumption to make that someone paralyzed for nearly 4 decades would rather walk. At least, it’s an assumption I would make and I, obviously, am not nearly as gifted as Christ in these matters. So isn’t a bit odd that he would ask such a question? As a literary device I think it merits deeper investigation. It’s not an expected question nor do I think it was a opportune moment, assuming that all the people at the well were there to be healed. While I think Mrs. Meyer would do well with an introductory literary course, I think there is a case to be made that Christ was asking this man about his convictions more so than his condition. Following the resolution of the event we see that Christ heals the man and manages to disrupt the Pharisees and establish his authority in the process.

    Is it too far fetched to say that this is a story of a man who, after years of relying on others to no avail, is healed in a radical, counter-cultural, fashion by choosing to follow Christ? I think this avoids the “winners/losers” dichotomy and keeps Christ at the center. However, it also reinforces that, ultimately, we have to choose to follow Christ and break from the patterns/traditions of this world. We can’t simply live our lives dependent upon others for our healing (although, I might be willing to concede that the last part of my analysis is skewed toward my strong individualistic/libertarian leanings or making the physical paralysis a metaphor for our personal spiritual state).

    It’s a shame really, I think Meyer’s sermon says more about how little she demonstrated Christ in her brother’s life -since it appears she never asked him if he wanted to be well- than it does about anything else.

    • I have nursed many (far too many) people with chronic and debilitating diseases. A percentage of them, if asked the same question at the pool side would have hesitated or answered “Mmm .. yes… but…”. It is not a majority but also not an unexpected progression for some to go beyond dealing with or overcoming the obstacles of their condition and incorporate it into who they are. In fact, for some it comes to define them, not to others but themselves. It can give them an identity they may not have if whole.

      This is the same as the gambler who even if they can cease gambling, misses the community of gamblers. We all have to answer the same question eventually about our own sin and forgiveness/healing. Do we really want to be healed or are we already looking back like Lots wife?

      • Very insightful. Thanks

      • I agree, very insightful indeed. I’m not sure that you were disagreeing with my take or not, however, I think your insight is helpful in making it.

        I think, perhaps, it makes an even stronger case that Christ was truly probing to see if the man was willing to be healed, that is, willing to forsake all (in this case possibly his very identity?), in order to follow Christ. It still makes the question very poignant even if my initial assumptions might have been off the mark. As such, Meyer was starting in the right direction and then took it wildly off the rails (wiggle, really?) in order to shoehorn it into her worldview. As I said, truly a shame. She was blind to a chance to act like Christ and instead opted to point fingers.

        • No disagreement here Sean. I just see us all as the paralytic, as those surrounding him who step over him on their own quest for healing and those already healed.

          I also think that her assertion that this poor man could/should have done what was required is cruel and ignores that the only one in the story that is whole is Jesus. Even the healed had no love. Maybe that is the lesson. We just cant get ‘there’ yet and we are truely without love if we expect others to do it to our delusional standard.

  20. Honestly, she totally creeps me out…as do all of the so-called TV prosperity preachers. Their false gospel goes so much against what I believe I almost have an allergic reaction to it. The bigger question for me is…how is it exactly that so many people are duped into believing anything that comes from their mouths. It’s both repulsive and repugnant to a true follower of Christ. I have always wondered if people are this easily misled because of not being correctly taught in their own churches. Perhaps pastors forget sometimes they are, as shepards,supposed to protect their flocks and speaking strongly against this nonsense is an important way to point out the wolves…waiting to devour.

  21. Jonathanblake says:

    No words to describe the disbelief I feel. How did this kind of hermeneutic ever become so popular? I hear it more than I’d like to

  22. Well said. People need to realize that just because something is in a Christian bookstore, it does not mean that you need to read it. Sad but true.

  23. I really don’t like Joyce Meyer’s teachings. There was a time when I actually used to watch her on TV. It was on while I worked out, and, well, it was a long time ago… I do think this sermon illustrates an idea that is pervasive among many Christians, though. I think that we like to think we have more power over ourselves than we really do.

    This does raise some questions for me, though. I do believe God has given us all a free will. So at what point does a person choosing not to accept help or provision become a matter of them being too far gone? I’ve known people who have truly gone out of of their way to help family members and friends only to have those people turn on them. I guess I could say we’ve all done that with God innumerable times as well. I guess it just seems that some people just have a hard time letting themselves receive love. Maybe the mystery is that the people who Meyers identifies as the “winners” aren’t really the winners after all. In God’s economy, it’s often the “losers” who are more willing to own up to their needs than the ones who think they have it all. I don’t say this to condemn anyone. I think we can all fall prey to thinking we’re better than others. It’s an all-too-subtle trap.

  24. Christiane says:

    I wonder if Joyce needed to ‘blame’ her brother, because it was easier for her to do than to feel guilty that she could not help him and he died the way he did.

    I think her story shows that she is hurting.

  25. I don’t know if I want to scream or weep after reading this… What about all of us who have serious issues with depression or worse… She had better be very careful, God just might take pity on her and enroll her in her own dark night of the soul. Nothing like the school of suffering to tame self-righteousness.

  26. Her sermon is a logical outworking of the “free will” in righteousness heresy.

  27. I am so tired of American Christianity/Capitalism. If you don’t have money, it’s your own fault. If you’re not living a wonderful life, it’s your own fault. If you are not a spiritual giant, it’s your own fault. If a species becomes extinct, it their own…no wait, that would be Darwinism, which of course, we Christians don’t believe in, except when it comes to the downtrodden of society, and then it is survival of the fittest.

  28. When you don’t have the Sacraments, you are left with ‘yourself’ and your seriousness, your Christian religion project’. In that case, you don’t really need Jesus Christ at all.

  29. The way prosperity preachers talk (e.g. about how her brother was a loser and proclaiming herself a winner), it makes you wonder what she would say about somebody tortured to death by the Romans 2000 years ago. Jesus doesn’t fit that definition of a winner, either.

    It’s like they forget the cross and think the resurrection stands on it’s own. In other words, perhaps they think the resurrected Jesus was victorious *in spite* of the cross, rather than *because* of it.

    • DreamingWings says:

      Your comment on forgetting the cross makes sense. From what I understand, most varieties of this sort of prosperity/pseudo-fundamentalism teach that Jesus could have ‘won the battle’ and gained control of the earth if enough people had just believed. Rather than that the battle, and victory, were only on the cross. You know, like what Jesus kept telling people beforehand.

  30. Mike,

    Thank you for writing this. I am glad internetmonk is not a “watchblog”, but I am also glad that you are willing to call out false teaching and horrible hermeneutics. I am both angry and saddened at the way She has distorted the message of the text.

  31. Gee, I wonder what she would have to say about the disciples? All of them were martyred for Christ, except Judas, who took his own life. Were they all losers, too?

  32. I could never get past her sometimes angry, sometimes mocking demeanor.

  33. Wow! I’m practically speechless! What gets to me is when I hear people praise Meyer for her “practical” help and how she makes faith relevant. So in other words, I guess faith and spirituality are helped to be relevant by promises of God’s blessing and success. It’s just the continuation of the health and wealth gospel, and “God helps those who help themselves” theology that is so appealing. I think it’s partly because we like the illusion of control, the ideat that we have some control over life and life’s circumstances. Sometimes as a minister I get discouraged by seeing people like Joyce Meyer and so many others who have managed to have such huge appeal, as well as huge bank accounts! Thank you for your thoughtful critique and great blog!

    • I agree. My first thought was “I guess there’s no chapter and verse for ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ No, the power of God is in that we CANNOT help ourselves. Out of illness, out of broken bones, out of broken hearts, and out of our sin.

      I, too, am tired of the hucksters filling their coffers. I wonder if and when God will tell them, “This very night, your life will be demanded of you!”

  34. What a gross misrepresentation of what, I’m sure, Ms. Meyer was trying to communicate. You quoted the “personal effects” comment and then said, “Apparently a person’s life DOES consist in the abundance of his possessions”. Seriously?? Are you purposefully misinterpreting what she’s saying? I immediately understood what she was trying to say and that was that our personal effects DO have a comment on our lives. In her brother’s case, ALL that remained was a “pocket knife, empty wallet, key chain and broken watch”. How sad is that?? These are ALL his effects? No photos, no money (indicating that he spent it all… on something), no bibles, no precious keepsakes like a high school ring or Marine Corp ring?? I personally have very little. I am unemployed w/no retirement accounts. But after I’m gone, my personal effects will show how much I loved my family (through the huge abundance of photos), how much I adore my son, how much I love God… and other fun things including the fact that I love football. How can you not get that?? Unless, again, you are purposing to not get it.

    Then you quoted Ms. Meyer as saying, “if we try our best then God will bless us”… as if she was talking about finances. Again… SERIOUSLY?? Do you not know that there are other meanings of the word “bless”? Bless does not ONLY mean finances. In fact, bless means provision… to bless something or someone means to “say something good about”. If bless only meant finances, then what does it mean to say “I will BLESS His Name”?

    We Christians seriously need to quit tearing each other down. If you looked at my life with a magnifying glass, you could find plenty to criticize. If you took only a snapshot, it would not accurately portray the truth. It’s quite easy to take something out of context, don’t you think? Thank God for the Holy Spirit, Who ALONE is the one to bring conviction. I personally don’t want to be anyone’s holy spirit… I believe God handles that position perfectly. He doesn’t need my help. And most of all I thank God when He looks down at my completely imperfect life, He sees NOTHING but the blood. I don’t know if Joyce Meyer’s brother made it heaven… but if he did, then praise God. I don’t know about you guys, but I want SOMETHING to be able to show for my life… not just an empty shell and brokenness. YES, God would have gladly accepted him into heaven, if he accepted Jesus. I just know that I WANT to have jewels on my crown. There was a time where I just didn’t care about such trivial things… until God brought the revelation that I would be crowning JESUS with that crown. When I realized that, then I wanted to get as many jewels on my crown as I could. I want to CROWN HIM WITH MANY CROWNS. If Ms. Meyer’s brother made it to heaven, he won’t have much to offer Jesus (in thanksgiving).

    Matthew 7:1-3
    1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the **same way you judge others, you will be judged**, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

    • …put the kool-aid down & slowly walk away…

      :(

    • Cathy, one doesn’t need a “magnifying glass” to question or critique Ms. Meyer’s message. Her false gospel is right there on the surface for everyone to see. The NT requires us to warn against it.

      • @Mike: I understand that you have a different interpretation of certain things. No problem w/that. The problem lies w/the gross misrepresentation of (for instance) the personal effects quote. How did you come to the conclusion that she was talking about say… nice cars vs. having none? Or having money vs. not having money? You made the jump to that conclusion based on your preconceived judgments of her and others. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t strive for less marketing and less merchandising, as preachers of the gospel. I totally agree with that. But for goodness sake, let’s be balanced and let’s be fair… ok, more than that… Let’s be MERCIFUL and walk in love. And before you say it, I will: it is NOT love to point out Christian’s faults. Do I agree w/everything Joyce says? No. I’m sure I don’t agree w/you and you don’t agree w/me. However, I THINK that you Mike believe in Jesus Christ crucified and Who rose again on the 3rd day… and if you do, you are my brother in Christ. I will do my best not to tear you down, even when I think you are in error. If I do think you are in error, I will pray for you. If I knew you personally, I MIGHT (after much prayer and fasting) approach you privately w/1 or 2 others… but that would be ONLY IF the error was so grievous as to cause others to fall away from their faith. My point was there was misunderstanding and misinterpretation. I DO NOT SEE that the “personal effects” story had ANYTHING to do w/prosperity or the lack thereof. If I didn’t know that Ms. Meyer’s brother was a drug addict, I would have thought that he was that or an alcoholic, based on what his personal effects were. My personal effects will tell a different story; one of a life submitted to Christ with (hopefully) some good works thrown in there. NOT that good works saves us, only that I want jewels for my crown… and I’m so doggone thankful for ALL that Jesus did for me and what He continues to do for me. Joyce Meyer doesn’t preach a different gospel. She preaches Jesus Christ crucified. You may not agree w/her theology but that her theology or interpretations are different than yours, does not make her wrong and you right. And even if she IS wrong on some things, it does not negate that Jesus Christ is STILL Lord. I don’t know about you but I have yet to find a PERFECT preacher with PERFECT theology. There will always be SOMETHING that’s wrong in our thinking… that is, until we get to heaven.

        • I came to the conclusion that she was comparing “nice cars to having none,” because she was comparing her personal effects (vast riches) with his personal effects (utter poverty), and saying that gave proof of the difference between their lives. As another commenter noted, what would she do with the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man?

          Cathy, with all due respect, you really can’t see the difference between her message and the Christian gospel? It’s not about having perfect theology. It’s about having the most basic thing right. Joyce Meyer doesn’t.

          • I say the most basic thing is preaching Jesus Christ crucified…. are you saying that that’s not the most basic thing? And if that IS the most basic thing, are you saying that Joyce Meyer doesn’t preach Jesus Christ crucified?

          • She did not in this message. She preached God helps those who help themselves.

          • textjunkie says:

            I’m with Cathy on this one. While I think preaching on her brother’s death shows bad judgment, the “personal effects” quote I read immediately as being about more intangible blessings. It seems like a real twist of her words to make it into personal finances. Try reading it with that view point and substitute spiritual blessings wherever you *think* she’s talking about financial blessings, and see if it’s still that bad.

            the wiggling bit–enh, your point about how everyone else walked over him for however long is a good one, but in her case, is telling people not to give up such a bad idea? Is telling people to keep making the right choices when the world is against them, and hanging on to God to do what good they can with His help such a bad idea? Sometimes people need to hear that. It’s not a good message for everyone, but neither is the “You can do nothing except with God” message–either one will push some people farther from where they need to be.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            She did not in this message. She preached God helps those who help themselves.

            With the unspoken addition “Like MEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

    • One more Mike says:

      “I don’t know about you guys, but I want SOMETHING to be able to show for my life… not just an empty shell and brokenness.”

      What if I AM an empty shell and broken? If at the end of my life that’s all I can muster? What if there are no “jewels in my crown”, whatever that means? “Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked? (Ecclesiates 7:13) Maybe I can’t straighten myself out and neither could her brother.

      I hate that what happened to him happened to a former Marine. Too many vets fall into this type of situation, and if anyone could pull/will themselves out of his situation, it would be a Marine.

      I’m glad I dont have to answer to Joyce Meyer. God help her and all who follow her false teaching.

      • Like I said, if you have Jesus in your heart, you are going to heaven… broken or not. I personally WAS a broken, devastated mess… but not anymore. Jesus healed my broken heart and put my feet back on solid ground. I have a huge, fantastic testimony of all that God did in my life. Praise God for those who make it to heaven, with jewels or not. But since God healed my broken heart and put me back together, I’m going to do everything I can to help others who find themselves in that situation… because I’m grateful, because I’m thankful… and when I get those jewels in my crown, THE JEWELS WON’T BE FOR ME. I will cast my crown at His feet, with the vast thankfulness for all that He has done.
        Scripture references for jewels/crowns:
        2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4, Rev. 2:10; Rev. 3:11 and Rev. 4:10

        • Cathy,

          Do you cry with the grieving, and does your heart break for those who are hurting?

          I trust that God will be merciful to me, a sinner. I try to obey Jesus in “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy”

          I trust that God, who loves more, and knows more than I, is loving and being merciful to David and Joyce Meyer.

          Oh, by the way, I’m glad that you were healed.

    • “The Sacred Exchange Between St. Francis and Lady Poverty

      St. Francis of Assisi so loved Lady Poverty that he wrote about it in a document entitled The Sacred Exchange Between St. Francis and Lady Poverty wherein he has a discussion with his bride about her immense beauty to the Lord:

      “How great must be your dignity, then, and how beyond compare your stature! He left behind all the ranks of angels and the immense powers – of which there is a great abundance in heaven – when he came to look for you in the lowest regions of the earth – you who were lying in the mud of the swamp, in darkness, and in the shadow of death. All living beings held you in great contempt. All people ran from you and, as far as they could, cast you aside. Even though there were some who couldn’t escape from you, you were no less contemptible and despicable to them.” He went on to say, “ But after the Lord of lords came, taking you as His own, He lifted up your head among the tribes of the peoples. He adorned you as a bride with a crown, exalting you above the heights of the clouds. Yet, even though a number of people, ignorant of your power and glory still hate you, this takes nothing away from you because you live freely on the sacred mountains, in the strongest dwelling-place of Christ’s glory.” The Sacred Exchange Between St. Francis and Lady Poverty – St. Francis of Assisi

      St. Francis marries the Lady Poverty:

      http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/g/giotto/assisi/lower/crossing/20allego.html

      • And because it’s a law of nature or something that I must quote Dante, from “The Divine Comedy”, “Paradiso”, Canto XI:

        “58 ‘For, still a youth, he fought against his father’s wish
        59 for the favour of a lady to whom, as to death,
        60 no one unlocks the door with gladness,

        61 ‘and before his spiritual court et coram patre
        62 he joined himself to her and, from then on,
        63 each passing day, he loved her more.

        64 ‘She, bereft of her first husband, scorned and unknown
        65 one thousand and one hundred years and more,
        66 remained without a suitor till he came.

        67 ‘Nor did it profit her when men heard that she stood
        68 unmoved, with Amyclas, despite the voice
        69 of him who put the whole wide world in fear.

        70 ‘Nor did it profit her when, being fiercely loyal
        71 and undaunted, while Mary stayed below,
        72 she wept with Christ upon the cross.

        73 ‘But, lest I make my meaning dark,
        74 let it be understood, in all that I have said,
        75 that these two lovers are Francis and Poverty.

        76 ‘Their happy countenances and their harmony,
        77 their love and wonder and sweet contemplation
        78 made them a cause for holy thoughts,

        79 ‘so that the venerable Bernard was the first
        80 to shed his shoes and run, pursuing such great peace,
        81 and, running, thought himself too slow.

        82 ‘O unknown riches and prolific good! Barefoot goes Giles,
        83 barefoot goes Sylvester, following the groom,
        84 so greatly pleasing is the bride.

        85 ‘Then that father and teacher went his way
        86 in company of his lady and that family,
        87 each one girt with the same humble cord.”

    • Cathy

      A slight amendment to your verse Matthew 7:1-3

      “Joyce Meyer and Cathy, do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the **same way you judge others, you will be judged**, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

  35. Joyce Meyer is a salesperson pure and simple. Very few people read Scripture beyond the few verses mentioned by their favorite authors or their minister. We have all been guilty of that sometime in our lives. The scriptures and our lives are more complicated than the televangelists would have you believe.

  36. Vickie Jacobs says:

    II Peter 2:1; “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that brought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”
    Joyce Meyer is what is called an expository preacher(see the first example in I Corinthians. 10:1-5) Nearly all of todays preaching is now done this way. It’s taking a passage of scripture of several verses and explaining what they mean. This was not the method that was done in the past although some did but confined it to few words. Nor will this preaching produce revival because only evangelistic preaching does that. This is preaching which blames, tells people they are wicked and lost and why they are lost and holds up the law of God. (Romans 2:23) The law digs deep into the conscience and disturbs the soul. If sins aren’t named and preached against then people can’t have a sense of that sin. Romans 3:20; “for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
    Titus 1:13; “Rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.” (also, II Tim.4:2)
    I Timothy 5:20; “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.”
    II Tim. 4:3; “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine(concerning sin), but after their own lusts shall heap to themselves teachers having itching ears.” Theirs a difference between preaching and teaching.
    Today’s pulpet has it’s confort zone it seems and not willing to cry out what is truely wrong.
    Isaiah 58: “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a tumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” Nor had God sent these people…Jeremiah 23:21,32.
    It has now produced a great “famine in the land (Amos 8:11,12), not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:”
    Preaching which gets people converted also produces anger and division as it did in Jerusalem (Acts 4:2,3,4).
    Decisionism also destroyed the church where one just raises a hand, says a prayer where one believes in performing a human action shows salvation. Most people today will proclaim that they are a christian yet Jesus said “ye must be born again (John 3:7)
    If someone starts off with a joke before the main sermon you have squenced the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit convicts one of sins.
    The bible wants us to be obedient to follow what it has laid down for us to follow. Any other way is a wasted sacrifice.
    I Samuel 15:22; “And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offering and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better then sacrifice, and to hearken then the fat of rams.”

    • Brian in BC says:

      I’m sorry Vickie but your personal preference/definitions for “evangelistic” teaching vs. “expository” preaching is a false dichotomy…an either/or which is not borne out in the reality what is preached in many churches. I’ll give you the example of Mark Driscoll’s current sermon series on the Gospel of Luke…he’s taking almost 3 years to work through the book, which is expository preaching, and yet I have heard the Gospel…the actual gospel and a need for a saviour preached in every single sermon, which is evangelistic preaching. The series is convicting and is everything that you’ve highlighted above as being of the Holy Spirit. Don’t equate style with substance.

  37. I’ve noticed more & more the mix of self righteous works based teaching from a ” New York Times best selling author”

  38. Thanks for the good analysis of where and how her interpretation and message erred. It’s good to be reminded sometimes of what people are falling for.

    Sadly, the “God helps those who help themselves” and “God helps those who do the right thing” message is still going strong. Joyce Meyer is certainly one of the more obvious examples of this, but the message is there in subtle ways in a lot of the unspoken expectations and rules in many evangelical circles also.

  39. Late to the game here but can I tell you something that really pisses me off and makes me sick about Christianity? (agnositc speaking here…) It’s the fact that many in the mainstream church won’t call her on the carpet. Will any of the following call her out by name and challenge her?

    Matt Chandler?
    Rick Warren?
    Billy Graham?
    Mark Driscoll?
    John Piper?
    John MacArthur?
    Your local evangelical pastor?

    Now compare that with how I heard several of the above mention by name, criticize and call on the carpet Brian McLaren, Tony Compello, etc.. (yes even at my local fundgelical church on Route 7 in Tysons Corner , VA) I would love to know how many of the evangelical pastors can turn a blind eye and then face theri congregation without SPECIFICALLY pointing this out and saying, “THIS is not what the gospel is about…”

    If Christians can get their crap together and police themself…maybe I’ll give it a second try…

    Nite all…

    • Well, yes. Most of those men regularly criticize those preaching the prosperity gospel, and some have directly targeted Meyer (and not just because she’s a woman). I’d say calling people out and criticizing people is what some of the above men are “best” at…I’m not sure if we really want more of that.

      It’s a difficult balance to find…making it clear that we denounce messages like this that cause genuine harm while still making grace available to all, even those who promote this hurtful message. I haven’t found that balance yet, but I have discovered that more and more unfiltered criticism is never as satisfying as you initially expect it to be.

      • Marie I haven’t heard them call her out by name and call her on the carpet (unless I missed it). But many have condemned the prosperity gospel and spoken harshly of it. I just never heard Joyce Meyers mentionned and singled out in a sermon, blog, talk like I have seen Brian McLaren, Tony Compello, etc.. Mark Driscoll criticizes McLaren quite a bit, and singles out his writings, talks, etc.. John Piper has also done this, etc… But has Mark Driscoll (etc..) crtticized her and took her book and reviewed, and skewed it like he as McLaren? I would have to say no.

        If I missed this…then please show me and I’ll gladly admit my mistake.

        • Brian in BC says:

          I don’t understand your point. I didn’t realize that it was Mark Driscoll’s (etc…) ministry to personally identify and label every heretical teacher who has any size of “public” ministry in detail. I thought it was their ministry to preach the gospel, teach and encourage their congregations…and where appropriate to identify false philosophies and false teachers who’s message is having a direct negative affect on their congregations.

          We come from various areas in the country (and countries actually) and what I don’t think many people realize is that Joyce Meyers and her ilk are NOT the predominant false teachers in the Pacific North West (and other regions)…the whole TBN “style” of prosperity gospel isn’t really what is leading people astray in the church here, it’s much, much more common to have McLaren and “The Shack” paganism, and panentheism as the predominant “competing voice”. Therefore, when someone like Driscoll details the hollowness of that specific false gospel it is not because their ministry is based on telling everyone what everyone else is saying that is wrong at every turn, but they are acting like Paul did in his letters, in instructing their specific congregations regarding the heresies in their midst.

          • Brian in BC says:

            I’d like to add that if you spend long enough studying the Gospel and God’s Word, false gospels stand out like counterfeit Rolex in a Times Square overcoat. You no longer need to have someone else show you the specific error of a teaching, it’s obviousness becomes clear.

          • Brian I am not saying that its his full time duty to identify and label every false and heretical teacher. As an agnostic all I am saying is that he loses credit in his approach. You don’t have to go to a “TBN” style of ministry to get the prosperity gospel. Heck there are probably many people at Mars Hill who believe in it. Ever hear how people prause God?

            “Thank you Jeuss for helping me get that promotion at IBM”
            “God is awesome I just got engaged”
            “Praise God!! I prayed that my brother would recvoer from his motercycle accident and God’s listening and he is making a rebound”

            On and on it goes…in my mind the prosperity gospel is DEEPLY entrenched in evangelicalism and many evangelicals are in denial about it. They just say “I’m blessed and God blesses me” when life goes the way that they want it to go.

            My point is why critcize Brian McLaren and other “false teachers” by name and complete ignore Joyce Meyers by name. Evangelicals are pretty subjective in their theology and how they promote, defend, and believe in it. In this approach Mark Driscoll (and others like him) tell me as an agnostic how shallow and flawed the gospel is when what drives the arguments and rebuttels are selective reasoning of “Brian McLaren” is a heretic and all mention him by name but not Joyce Meyers.

            All I am saying is why not take an equal approach to it and rebuke Joyce Meyers publically and by name like he does Brian McLaren.

            That make sense…?

          • Brian in BC says:

            Eagle, in reference to Mars Hill…again, it isn’t Joyce Meyers who congregants are bringing to their home groups as an influence on their thinking…they are bringing (or were bringing) McLaren books. Driscoll directly responded to a very, very strong influence in the PNW which was directly speaking into his church. I don’t know where you live, but the whole “prosperity gospel” as highlighted by the TBN cavalcade of charlatans isn’t the predominant heresy here. As to your point that people are praising God for the “good things” that happen in their life…I don’t have a problem with that because we ARE called to praise God in ALL things…Paul praised God for his afflictions. I think that you have definitely highlighted an error in that many people only praise God for what is good in their life…but I think you’ll also see men like John Piper who direct people to praise God regardless of their circumstance.

            Don’t toss out the Gospel because Christians fail to live up to it…it’s actually kinda the whole point…we can’t…but I can direct you to someone who did. :)

          • Brian…

            I live in the Washington, D.C. area. It’s been interesting. Here in evangelical circles there is a heavy influence by Pat Robertson’s and Jerry Falwell’s schools. People come to DC, many want to engage in the culture war and the gospel is tainted by politics. Its sickening. I had a lot of things that happened that really burned me. Just to name a few,,,Pharisee encounters, what I was taught not working spiritually, dealing with intense doubt, 8 year accountability partner who lived a doube life while I was disciplined, etc… When I think of church, Jesus and everything spiritual I want to vomit. Christianity can be ugly and i saw it. And in my case it happened after coming out of Mormonism. From my perspective I see a lot of paralells between the LDS and evangelical Christianity.

        • Eagle, I don’t have time to find you a source, but I (unfortunately) did attend Driscoll’s church for several years and can tell you that he did criticize her in at least one of his sermons. His favorite prosperity gospel preacher to criticize is Osteen though, so he tends to focus on him. Trust me, a lack of criticism is not something I would ever accuse Driscoll of. He has a pretty wide range of targets.

          Brian in BC does have a point though, in that Meyer just isn’t that popular in the NW. I would say that most here have never heard of her. This place is blessedly outside of most of the culture war that goes on in other parts of the country. I don’t however, think that McLaren or the Shack are “heresies” to warn people about though, so that’s where he and I part ways.

    • Steve Newell says:

      Eagle,

      Many LC-MS pastors have spoken out against her theology and the underlying teachings of the “Word Faith” movement. On a Lutheran radio program, Issues ETC, they interviewed her and she was not willing to discuss her theology. She once attended an LC-MS church but rejected it because she rejects the fact that we continue be poor miserable sinners who continuing need to hear the forgiveness of our sins in Christ Jesus.

      I don’t know what is worse, her lack of theology training in the historic Christian faith or the fact that many who follow her teachings through books and gatherings don’t realized how far she is from the historic Christian faith.

      • BY LC-MS I take it you mean “Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod”? Am I wrong? I don’t know anything about the Lutheran church. My background is entirely in reformed evangelical theology (Campus Crusade, Evangelical Free, some Baptist,Third wave theology, and non-denominational Bible churches) (BTW…That’s always why I’m puking at he thought of Christianity becuase I got a steady diet for a decade of crap…) In those environments I mentionned I never heard Joyce Meyers identified by name whereas I heard Tony Compello, Brian McLaren, etc.. singled out and speciffically discussed and rebuted.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Eagle, sounds like your Reformed Evangelical Theology contained a LOT of Prosperity Gospel/Joyce Meyers fanboys.

          When re-reading the main posting and comment thread just now, something I heard recently came to mind, about Randian Objectivism (a philosophy of Utter Selfishness) infiltrating Christian thought:

          “Ayn Rand becomes the Fourth Person of the Trinity.”

          Christ + Ayn Rand = Prosperity Gospel?

  40. Jesus help us. So sad that all of this goes right over her (and her audience’s) head.

    “And to the angel of the church in America write: ‘Buy the shoes…eat the cookie!”

    Barf. Maranatha.

  41. God as a cosmic ATM, but only if you are “good enough” to approach Him?

    Blasphemy, pure and simple. My Lord hung out with all those losers like Meyer’s brother, and did not have a pot to cook in. Died broke and alone, and would have been decomposing as well, except He defied death for the rest of us.

    Do these “preachers” really think that all the poor and sick “deserve” it??

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      God as a cosmic ATM, but only if you are “good enough” to approach Him?

      “Good enough” meaning “Just Like Joyce Meyers”?

      “I Got Mine,
      I Got Mine,
      I don’t want a thing to change
      Now that I Got Mine…”
      — Glenn Frye

      • ‘Zactly!

        And although I never bought into the Meyers and Hinn heresy, I have wasted a lot of my life deciding, in my OWN “perfect knowledge”, what choices folks have made that cause them to “deserve” their predicament.

        As a nurse, I do see many people who have made multiple poor choices , and it is frustrating to deal with. However, until the Lord kicked me off my high horse recently, I never stopped to examine what sort of life experience and/or pain can drive human beings into making decisions that are decidedly NOT in their own best interests.

        Now that I am here on the dusty ground, I am starting to get a clue that we ALL make stupid choices and sin. Being “good” doesn’t rain down money, nor is it a warrenty against pain of any type. Nor is being a follower of Christ…but with the latter comes the knowledge that He will love and protect us, as we are called to love and protect others to the best of our ability, in healthy and supportive ways.

        I FINALLY see that “there, but for the Grace of God, am I”. Talk about a “metanoia” for this old girl.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          As a nurse, I do see many people who have made multiple poor choices , and it is frustrating to deal with.

          “The dog returns to its vomit,
          The sow returns to her mire,
          And the burnt fool’s bandaged finger
          Wobbles right back into the fire…”
          — Rudyard Kipling

          And sometimes the urge to choke the stupid out of them can just get overwhelming…

  42. Why did Jesus heal that man (the paralytic) but ignore all the others that were ill, leaving them to suffer? Were they less deserving? To me, that’s as important of a question as any other.

    • I can’t answer that, Britt. But I can tell you this, it wasn’t because this man “wiggled” and the others didn’t.

    • Brian in BC says:

      Why do we allow our questions to focus on that which we cannot have an answer for instead of that which is clearly taught in the passage? I have seen this type of inquiry with much greater frequency recently…when people (and I’m not singling you out Britt) are discussing and debating a clear passage, there often comes a question which is just a rabbit trail diversion which clearly isn’t the question which the scripture is asking us to consider. As Red Leader once said repeatedly before his untimely death…”Stay on Target!”. ;)

      • Brian because it’s a serious question. I am not a person who says “the Bible says it, I believe it, end of story.” One of the thngs that bothered me immensely about evangelical theology was how selective they would be about which questions you can ask and discuss and trying to steer the conversation away from certain topics. When I was in Mormonism the Mormons tried to control the questions and for me this became a red flag in my mind. So when an evangelical trys to steer questions that raises a red flag in my mind. “Truth” if it is indeed truth is not afraid of questions. Even the difficult ones..

        ie..

        1. “If God is omniscient why does he allow that Sunday school teacher to molest that 8 year old boy? Why would God stand buy and knowingly allow such an evil act of take place. How can one respect or worship a God who acts like that?

        2. “What happens to the people who never heard the salvation message becuase of historical or geographic limitations. If you need to place full faith in Jesus than what happens to the person who lived in Japan in 100 BC. Do they go staight to hell?

        • Brian in BC says:

          I’m just running out to Church so I don’t have time to answer this at this time…I’ll be back (likely tomorrow morning)…just so you don’t think I’m ducking the question…I’d be happy to engage.

        • Eagle, good questions. I think you know we are sensitive to them and unafraid to talk about them around here. On this post, however, such issues are taking away from the main topic. Hang in there, we’ll get around to your questions.

          • Sorry CM!! I don’t mean to hijack or take away from the main post. My apologies…. Keep up the good job here!!! :D

      • To “Brian in BC”: Maybe what you think is clearly being taught in this passage is not what you think is being taught. Why Jesus healed that paralytic and no one else in the crowd is the much more profound question, because it applies nearly all of us. Few people are physically healed and suffering is all around us. Perhaps the author wanted us to think about THAT – maybe that’s the real point of the story, rather than the “obvious.”

    • This is a question that really troubles me also….in some of the environments I knew (again reformed evangelical) people would say that those who never recovered lacked faith in God. But it bothers me immensely when God heals one person who is parallazed and completely ignore the person who has liver cancer.

      • I think sometimes we are so caught up in this life we might forget that there are worse things than death…..I don’t understand either why one is healed here, another suffers long here, and yet another dies….but death is not the enemy we some times make it out to be.
        I am not healed (of chronic pain, disablity), but God still is with me and has use for me. It isn’t punishment to have pain or illness here. I see God’s blessing in my lack.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        In my church tradition (RCC), many of the saints who were known for miraculous healings were chronically ill themselves. Others were healed, but not themselves.

  43. I thought this quote from the original article was interesting (and sad):

    “She said there was a time she and her husband considered paying off his overdue child support, but she wanted her brother to show his commitment to working and not quitting the job.”

    As my wife just pointed out to me, what about the brother’s kids? It sounds like somehow getting her brother to “own up” to his responsibility is more important than supporting her niece/nephew when she had (has) plenty of money to cover the $60,000 in back child support. I wonder if she’ll do it now.

    Sure, there’s always the possibility that the brother’s kids were not actually hurting financially, but it just really sounds bad in the context of the article. It truly sounds like “every man (or woman) for him/herself” on many different levels here, which is not what Jesus is about. Jesus loved us and helped us when we could not help ourselves–when we couldn’t “wiggle” to the edge of the pool.

    Let me just add one more thing… Given the original article, she doesn’t even seem to acknowledge (like C.S. Lewis does in Mere Christianity) the reality of how differently people deal with their personal struggles. Who’s to say that her brother did not put forth more effort to “wiggle” out of his horrible circumstances than she did to “wiggle” out of hers? She doesn’t know–only God knows.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      It sounds like somehow getting her brother to “own up” to his responsibility is more important than supporting her niece/nephew when she had (has) plenty of money to cover the $60,000 in back child support. I wonder if she’ll do it now.

      Ever heard of “Corban”, i.e. “It’s the LORD’s money”?

      P.S. This morning I wrote out a check for a friend of mine across the country who badly needs new glasses, can’t afford them, and whose family’s attitude is “You’re on your own, LOSER.” Guess that makes me a LOSER, too.

      • Corban…yeah. that slick supra-spiritual artificial loophole letting one off-the-hook for taking care of family…

        heck, she could have sold just a small portion of her immense holdings & provided for her brother’s family without expecting anything in return. but it is tough love that does trump true Christian charity in action. heck, put a spiritually sounding spin to it & you too can nullify your care & concern for the least of these…

        the story is so sad because it is a compressed prosperity gospel incident boldly proclaimed in public to bolster her “God favors the, well, ‘favored’…” message she peddles quite successfully to her fans…

        her brother’s dirty laundry hung out like a banner commending her for her faithfulness & devotion to God’s wonderful principles…

        he was not there to defend himself or relate his side of the story. he was used anyway as Joyce’s poster child loser example but only after he died & couldn’t tell us how it really went down…

        [sigh]

        in the end he became just a sidenote in her theological machinations reinforcing the kookiness of her religious perspectives. what an ugly misrepresentation of the Jesus i have been able to identify with during my 36+ year, sometimes wandering, faith journey…

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          heck, put a spiritually sounding spin to it & you too can nullify your care & concern for the least of these…

          Wasn’t the primary application of the Second (?) Commandment this sort of crap? “Taking God’s Name in Vain” originally meaning claiming God’s Sanction to justify doing Evil?

          Convenient how “Taking God’s Name in Vain” got redefined as cussing and cussing alone…

          • I usually don’t reflect much on that aspect of using God’s name in vain, yet I lived that for ~4 years when immersed in the prophetic-rhetoric camp. It was tossed out there all the time: “God said this…God said that…yeah…Thus saith the Lord!”

            That was the most blatant abuse of God’s name, His character, His manner of dealing with His children. It was presumptuous, pompous blather all with a supra-spiritual sound meant to impress those withing ear shot.

            Lord, have mercy… :(

            God is misrepresented so much today I wonder if it ever gets His anger stoked. He is reduced to a snake-oil distillate wrapped up in book covers & bible verses & other religious paraphernalia. I would not want to be a religious snake-oil salesman on the Day of Judgment. Yikes!

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            As far as I understand (from reading about Jewish tradition), that was the original and primary application of the commandment, consistent with the Levitical demands to kill false prophets.

            It was tossed out there all the time: “God said this…God said that…yeah…Thus saith the Lord!”

            Because “God Saith” is the Ultimate Trump Card.

            JMJ/Christian Monist reported a specific application of this back when he was mixed up in the Navigators. You see, the atmosphere there was so rarefied Spiritual & Ascetic that you couldn’t just ask a Nav girl out — that was Fleshly, and drew rebukes. So, the only way to score with a Nav girl was to con and high-pressure her with “God Hath Revealed Unto Me that You Are To Become My Wife” and any hesitation was Rebellion against What God Hath Said.

            According to Christian Monist, several of these “Thus Saith the LORD” marriages blew up years later, usually with some form of “Satan Hath Entered Into My Wife” and a nasty divorce (with most of the nastiness going from female-to-male).

            Though I’m reminded of something I heard long ago from a Wiccan about why she refused to do Love Spells or Love Potions (yes, a Witch with professional ethics; deal with it):

            “Because those Workings manipulate the will at a deep emotional level — you are forcing them to fall in love with someone they normally wouldn’t. And that requires a lot of energy to keep it going, and that won’t last forever. It’s going to wear out sometime. And when it does, you’ll get an opposite reaction, from magickally-forced Love to Resentment ahd Hatred.”

            Stripped of the Magickal terminology, this is what was happening in those Nav marriages, except the manipulation was through “Thus Saith the LORD” rather than a Wiccan spell working. (i.e. “Christianese Witchcraft” in the words of another blogger.) But the result and reaction was the same.

            The point of this ramble? I don’t know, except for free-association and “reducing God to a snake-oil distillate” being analogous to Witchcraft.

  44. Joyce needs an intervention. Her brother didn’t get one, because he was a “loser”, but she will never get one, because she is a “winner”. As Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Mark 2:17). It’s sad and strange how paralyzed we can become. Perhaps success is a greater paralysis: how can someone with millions of followers with tons of cash need someone to step in and get her help?

  45. Vickie Jacobs says:

    Brian in BC,
    Three years to understand just one part of scripture?
    I John 2:27; “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”
    Hebrews 1:1,2,3; ” God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (3)Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, ‘when he had by himself’ (emphesis mine) purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”
    Idol shepherds continue to control when the bible states it is God who can teach us.
    Zechariah 11:17 “Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye(he cannot see truth): his arm(his power) shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.”
    It says this throughout the whole chapter (11) and these shepherds end up howling for their glory is spoiled.
    In Acts 2 it tells us that thousands were able to understand from the words given to them from Peter.

    • Vickie, I appreciate your contributions, but please allow me some gentle exhortation here. This is a discussion site. Merely quoting Scripture, as if by just stating it you have given the definitive answer to a question, does not contribute to good discussion. Of course, we highly value knowing what God says in the Bible, but wrestling with the Scriptures involves more than just stating a verse. Please try to quote less and interact with others more. Thank you.

      • CM ~

        “wrestling with the Scriptures involves more than just stating a verse”

        Thank you for stating that! I’ve felt this for years! Seeing it in writing is like balm to some old wounds.

    • Brian in BC says:

      Why don’t you put down your judgement stick for a few minutes and pop on over to Mars Hill to listen to (or read the transcripts of) ANY of Mark’s sermons on Luke as it is transparently obvious that you have NO idea what you’re talking about in this regard. Why not enlighten yourself a bit?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      doubleplusgood doubleplusduckspeak, comrade vickie…

  46. The whole point of the gospel is we cannot help ourselves. That’s why the gospel is good news for us. God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. Joyce’s teaching at C3 seems to run contrary to that truth.

    And furthermore, she missed verse 7 where it says the man did try to get into the pool, but was unsuccessful because someone always beat him down into the water. “While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

    However, if she would have quoted that part, then her points would have been invalid, so I’m guessing that’s why she left that part out.

    • One more Mike says:

      Like all good evangelicals, she pulls unconnected verses from disparate parts of the epistles and OT (they tend not to spend much time in the gospels; why is that? A topic for another time?), quote them out of context so they’ll support what they’re saying, load them up like a 30 round magazine and spray them indiscriminately, drowning out any other point of view. The same way we “conduct” political debates here in the US now.

  47. Lord, have mercy.
    Lord, have mercy.
    Lord, have mercy.

  48. Vickie Jacobs says:

    Mike,
    I understand but, and in the spirit of a good heart, I must be obedient. If God is trying to show us more than we must learn to eat meat of the scriptures. You will not hear my scriptures and for those here my heartful thanks for allowing me to stand in the gap if only for this short time.

    • Vickie, I hope you will continue to read and comment. Just quote a Scripture or two and then tell us why you think that verse applies to the situation. Make an argument for your case. We’d love to continue interacting with you.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Because quoting blindly comes across as (1) overwhelming everybody else with “IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN!” and (2) a brainless quoting machine duckspeaking The Party Line.

  49. So much has been said about this post already, I’m hesitant to add anything to it. However, I really feel the need to express a few things:

    First of all, I’ll just clarify that I don’t know much about Joyce Meyer. I’ve read one book, The Love Revolution, and was really inspired by some parts of it. Having said that, I don’t know anything else about what Joyce Meyers teaches.She could be the craziest prosperity gospel promoter out there, for all I know.

    But I’m curious if the extremely strong reaction to her message displayed here is in fact “calling her to account for proclaiming a false message.” If Joyce Meyer has been contacted and this view has been brought to her attention, I think that it might be more effective than what’s going on here.

    It’s great to discuss views and challenge each other. It is definitely important to be wary of the prosperity gospel. But to say that “Joyce Meyer and those who preach the bad news of self-righteousness are not interested in Jesus” somehow doesn’t sit right with me. Self-righteousness is bad news – no disagreement there. But no matter how off-base Joyce Meyer or anyone else might be, it’s a pretty big statement to say that a fellow Christian is not interested in Jesus. I’m sure that there are times when my screw-ups make me look like someone who is not interested in Jesus. “Bad fruit” does raise questions that should be asked, but what has been posted here is not asking Joyce Meyer those questions. I’m completely fine with a discussion on the prosperity gospel, but not so fine with it getting very personal and specifically aimed at a teacher who seems to honestly believe that she’s following Jesus. Maybe some correction is needed, but I don’t really see that happening here.

    Are we attacking the person or the idea? Feels like it’s the person.

    • I’ve said this before, and here goes again. You won’t read posts here from me criticizing the local prosperity gospel preacher (except in general terms to describe the state of things). However, when someone puts herself in the public spotlight and markets her teachings as aggressively as Ms. Meyer, when she is invited to be a featured speaker major at major conferences, and when a major Christian web publication like the Christian Post puts her message as the top story of its front page, then that person’s message is open to public scrutiny and critique.

      We don’t do it often here at Internet Monk because we are not a “watch-blog,” turning over every rock to find examples to judge. However, there are occasions when it is appropriate and, in my view, important to speak up in this way.

      • Thanks for your response. I’m fairly new to this blog, so I appreciated hearing about how things are done around here.

        Just curious – have you considered trying to contact Joyce Meyer to express your views and concerns? It’s not like you can call her up, and I’m not sure how much she sees of the comments left on her site, but it might be cool to try. It just seems as though the public scrutiny and critiquing would be more effective if she could hear it, too. She might not change her ways…but you never know.

        • One more Mike says:

          IMonk is the sixth most popular religious blog of 6,728 religious blogs. If Joyce Meyer doesn’t cruise by here every once in a while, she’s out of touch. She should walk over here in the evangelical wilderness every once in a while, just to see what the rebel alliance is up to.

  50. we all have problems don’t we?
    some of them we are able to live with for a long time, and others kill us quickly.

    when we point something out, it is very hard not to be the one pointing the finger.
    everything must be done in the Love of God.
    if not, it is just a loud noise.