In Response to Cosby’s Response to Victoria Osteen

Ephesians 4:1-4 Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

So you’ve probably seen the video going around lately of “Cosby’s reaction” to Victoria Osteen’s short exhortation at their church. Some guy thought he was doing Christians everywhere a great service by adding an old clip of Cosby saying, “That is the studpidest thing I have ever heard” to the end of the video. And the response has been pretty overwhelming in favor of Cosby’s side. YouTube comments have ranged from “That IS the dumbest thing I’ve heard in my life” to “I need a paper bag,” etc.

What’s most alarming to me is not the poor choice of words of Victoria Osteen (yes, just a poor choice of words – NOT heresy as some want to call it), but the haste in which many Christians shared this video. I’ve had bible college friends, pastor friends, people from high school, etc. share this video, all thinking that they were somehow helping people in their walks with Christ by doing so. In reality, though, they were causing great damage and disunity in the Body of Christ.

I have a few thoughts on this that I hope you’ll consider before being quick to side with Cosby (I’d actually love to hear Cosby’s actual thoughts on this).

1. We need to have more grace for each other. Ephesians 4 tells us to always be humble and gentle, being patient with one another, making allowance for others’ faults because of our love. I haven’t really seen this here. I see a lot of mockery, slamming, spiritual arrogance. Not grace, covering, concealing, love, unity – all things scripture tells us to do.

2. We need to protect unity.
At all costs. And it’s not just this video… All the time I’ll hear people just flippantly bash churches like Lakewood (who is reaching about 100x more people with the Gospel than most churches) as if they’re on a different team. I know that when most people say thing like that it’s of no ill-intent, but we need to realize that what we’re doing is causing more damage than it is helping.

3. We are all the Body of Christ.
We’re on the same team! We need to remind ourselves of this often.

4. The Gospel is being preached. Keep the main thing the main thing. Paul came to this conclusion in Philippians 1:15-18. If the Gospel is being preached, that is a GOOD THING. Unfortunately, one of the ways that the church has followed the world is in the way that we’re really quick to jump all over people as if God has called us to the high calling of discerning others’ motives and critiquing their doctrine. We’re really good these days at taking it upon ourselves to discern the motives of others, but we’re not so good at actually discerning the intent and spirit of what is being said. Let’s be quick to celebrate the Gospel being preached, and let’s be a bit slower to critique those who are doing it a little differently than we are. And when the time comes to challenge someone in their method/doctrine, do so in love, out of a desire to protect the unity of God’s church.

Just a few thoughts. Let me know if you agree or disagree!

-Taylor

P.S. One of the BEST ways to be happy is by worshiping God (I know this from personal experience). Happy IS NOT God, but happy IS good. Depressed, sad, lonely? Spend some time in Worship and let God affirm you and lift your spirit.

P.P.S. This is in NO way a response to any of my friends. If you shared the video, no big! Hopefully I stirred the pot a bit! Love u all.

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18 thoughts on “In Response to Cosby’s Response to Victoria Osteen

  1. I love your well thought out response and the spirit in which it is presented. Just want to throw out a few questions in the spirit of a loving dialogue.
    You say we need to protect unity at all costs but what about the cost of the truth? I am huge on ecumenism but where does one draw the line?
    You mention, and one of the most common defenses I’ve seen for Osteen is the huge number of people they are reaching. I’ve been writing a devotional through the book of John and a theme I’ve been noticing that seems to be usually completely overlooked is how Jesus responded to crowds. It seems that over and over again jesus is either saying something to scare the crowds away or he is slipping away himself. Are large numbers really a good thing? Beyond that is the gospel truly being preached? I lived in Houston for a short while back in the day and probably attended his church 6-10 times as part of my work. In that time I don’t think I once heard anything on sin, hell, or repentance. Can the good news really be good I we completely ignore the bad? Part of why Victoria’s quote has gone viral is because it encapsulates in one poorly worded nutshell such a large thrust of their message.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Well I think context is everything. We’re seeing a SMALL portion of what happens but aren’t there for the day in and day out inner workings of their church: small groups, theology classes, ministries, etc.

      As far as the numbers are concerned… There’s always good and always bad with a crowd. But I have on MANY occasions heard both Joel and Victoria preach that the only way to eternal life and experiencing the kingdom here (something Jesus was all about) is through Jesus.

      Jesus didn’t just come to save us for eternity. He wants his Kingdom to come here on earth. Sometimes I feel that Christians WANT this world to suck so they can reiterate and puff up their spiritual superiority. Let’s bring life, hope, GOOD NEWS wherever we go.

      Thanks for commenting bro!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you are totally right about how we need to be kinder to each other, have more grace. We’re living in times where bashing celebrity is all the rage and people can’t wait to play gotcha games and try to take somebody down, even in the body of Christ.

    However, I do kind of understand some of the concerns people have about what the Osteen’s are teaching and Victoria Osteen often says things that make me uncomfortable.

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      • There’s a very self help kind of message. You see it expressed by her clip where she says “do it for yourself not for God.” I understand what she meant to say, but what she accidentally said sums up many people’s concerns. Faith is being presented as something that benefits you exclusively, you’re in it to reap the rewards, it’s a quick fix self help program. She says “be happy,” as if faith never involves sacrifice or discomfort. There’s a very self centered tone to some of their teachings that gives me pause, as well as this message that anything goes, you’re just loved unconditionally so you’re not required to actually work your faith.

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        • I get that… But again I just don’t think that’s totally true. I think they’re just super intentional in their main gatherings (a portion of which we get to see on tv) of always being positive, uplifting and encouraging.

          The moment they say, “Harm will never come your way” or “you’ll never be persecuted if you follow Jesus” or “follow Jesus ONLY for what he will give you” is when I’ll agree. I just haven’t seen that.

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  3. We talked about Lakewood one time when we met for lunch and you gave a great prospective and do again here. In the last few years I have learned to slow my judgment and wait long enough for the whole truth to come out. A few months ago it came out the Brian Huston was a promoter of Chrislam . . . truth was it was a grossly misinterpreted quote pulled out of context. I like what you point out here. The last section of this article (I saw because Desiring God reposted it) has a great prospective on how her statement in fact wasn’t all that far off http://chadashby.com/2014/09/04/was-victoria-osteen-really-that-off-base/.

    I would say, a few of the times I have tuned in to Joel I have caught some theology I do not agree with. But I would say I have to agree with you . . . I pray that the tens of thousands that they are reaching are getting the gospel and are meeting Jesus.

    In other news, a lot of what you said here applies to the Driscoll situation as well . . . which has been driving me crazy the way Christians and especially “Christian Media” groups have gone about, it has been all wrong and is just tearing apart God’s people and that is never acceptable.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a number of thoughts about this but time will only allow me to jot down a couple.

    You quote Paul praising that he doesn’t care if there is ill motives in preaching the Gospel because it is being preached in general therefore he is happy. Paul spoke to the Galatians though asking who had bewitched them and said that he wished those who were adding circumcision to salvation would go castrate themselves in the process (Gal. 5:12). He calls for the Galatians to divide from such people because of the additions to the Gospel that are being made. I guess at the end of the day it will come down to whether or not you find the additions to the Osteen/Prosperity gospel camps message to be additions or not, and if such additions warrant some division? I would not use terms like heresy without caution, but in the case of the prosperity gospel I cannot see it being anything but an addition to the gospel that is not warranted.

    I should say that the video is/is not helpful. It isn’t helpful in that I really thought I was going to hear Cosby respond to that message (I’ve heard Dave Chappelle respond before so I thought this would be similar), but then I did laugh only because I was so surprised by what was clearly a joke, not the joke itself. I was far more saddened after watching it, saddened in hearing additions to christianity that seem unbiblical.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wasn’t saying that Paul doesn’t care about motives. I’m saying that it’s not our job to be the motives police and completely discredit/shame/mock another pastor/church because we think we know their motives and reasons for doing what they do.

      Paul was pissed that there were additions being made to the gospel because the gospel didn’t need it. He didn’t want people thinking they needed circumcision to receive salvation. He didn’t want them bound by a belief (one rooted in truth, and was definitely a good thing) to be something that hindered them from resting in the main thing – the cross. And then, he talks about how we should use our freedom (the freedom that you and I have because of Jesus) to serve one another in love instead of devouring and destroying one another. That includes those who might be off a bit.

      My main issue with the video wasn’t so much the validity of the critique (I do think it was a bit off, but more than that just a really bad choice of words – I can discern the spirit of intent of her words and what she was trying to communitcate), but the spirit in which it was done. I just don’t think Jesus would’ve done it that way.

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      • Yes Paul speaks of freedom to love one another toward maturity through this writings, BUT he also says something fairly crass like “I wish they would just castrate themselves”. I guess my point is that we should be careful in letting graceful/most loving language be defined by culture and instead the Scriptures, and at times, not regularly necessarily, but at times graphic/stern rebukes are in order. Not that some Cosby joke is that, but I don’t see the defense of osteens message given couldn’t be applied to any critique of their message, and in that sense we shouldn’t be just addressing the potentially unhelpful nature of the joke, but the tragedy of prosperity gospel messages being wholesale shipped worldwide to cultures that do hear a message like those spoken by osteen and the like and believe in God so that their wife won’t die or their animals won’t get sick (the message is clearly embraced here too but usually not out of necessities like it is there).

        What is hard about your response, if I understand it correctly, is that on the one hand you say in your first paragraph that we cannot be the motive police, yet on the other hand in your last paragraph you call the message she spoke to be well intended and poorly worded because of your discernment/assessment, but why can someone else not simply say that by their assessment/discernment that the motives are just as they sound, bad? As devils advocate I would ask: “Why do you get to question/decide motives and intent but others cannot?”

        I may have misunderstood your point in that last paragraph, so forgive me if this is the case, and either way thanks for the conversation. I hope and pray for each other and those who might see it that they would ask seriously about what they believe about these topics and what they believe about them, and if nothing that prayer and sought Scriptures and people would be the conclusion.

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  5. I hear ya too. I just think in the case of Paul questioning the Galatians about being “bewitched”,that is, not discerning right from wrong and embracing a heretical beliefs, that people should be skeptical at times or questioning when they have solid principles of doctrine that are built on Scripture and then they hear something contrary, they should question/be critical and test it against the Scriptures. If there is a good size body of work and consistency with what they are looking at, then they have good grounds to call it what it is. If it seems like a momentary misspoken word/lapse in judgement mistake, or simply a sin they need to repent of, then so be it. I do have to say that in the case of prosperity gospel preaching, I am not surprised to hear such things said, and in that sense it is momentarily sad and frustrating. Sad for those who are influenced and frustrated at the influences.

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    • Totally.

      But again my aim is more to call out the disposition that people have towards PEOPLE (not just their beliefs) because of the stream they’re in or beliefs associated with them. Often in calling out the theology they’re really demeaning the person. It’s often mocking, not out of love but out of a critical spirit.

      Say I know someone believes something that I know is wrong… The tendency if I’m not careful is to resist and oppose that person, in the name of calling them out for their messed up beliefs. I’m saying we should – without compromising truth – change our disposition.

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      • I hear ya, and my responses have been from a device where it is difficult to re-read/make sure I’m responding to everything correctly, sorry if there has been redundancy or missing of obvious points.

        A difficulty lies here in that we are told to love one another in not being divisive in the Bible, and we are also to be acutely aware of false doctrine/care for those around us so they do not get swept up in it, and if we are a part of that ministry/body to divide from it if it goes unrepented of. There is either a contradiction in the Bible here, or a subtle nuance that we have to navigate with grace and civility.

        In trying to navigate that Taylor I would say try not to defend bad things while trying to correct bad things. Obviously you might not see their prosperity message to be bad, but as quickly as it is poor judgement at times to call someone out for a small quote if you don’t understand the body of their work, it can at times also be poor judgement to defend something that Biblically is broken in the process of that.

        I say that without attitude or condescending tones, I hope you can hear that in a typed out message.

        With Love,

        Adam C.

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  6. Thanks for dropping by to have a read, now i will put my foot into my mouth! If it’s destroying a christian view. Let all reblog the post…..

    Like

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