Part 2 in a series of three
Part 2 is for the fence-sitters. The folks who say “but we need to be fair. These prosperity teachers do some good. They’re not all bad. What’s so wrong with what they’re teaching? Christians need to stop attacking other Christians. Why can’t we all just get along?”
First — brief answers to these very legitimate questions. Yes, we need to be fair. Yes, some people have received faith blessings while listening to these teachers. As the ancient church councils taught centuries ago, the effectiveness of a believer’s faith does not rest on the personal holiness of the minister. Even a total charlatan will get “results” when working with a person of true faith.
What’s wrong about what they’re teaching? I could fill entire websites answering that, and many scholars better than myself already have, but Part 1 of this series will give you a start.
Why can’t we all just get along? That question cuts two ways. In the eyes of the prosperity preachers, I don’t qualify as a Christian. My love for Jesus; my faith in the Trinity and the Creeds; my water baptism and my time in seminary notwithstanding, my “Christianity” is unacceptable to them. So if I’m not a Christian (in their eyes) how can this be a case of a Christian attacking other Christians? Think about it.
That said, there are some things I think people should know about regarding the academic credentials of the people who are raking in mega-millions in Jesus’ name.
Joel Osteen: Does not hold a seminary degree and has no formal training in theology whatsoever. I was unable to find a source that could say for sure whether or not Mr. Osteen has graduated college. One source mentioned he attended college, studying video production and communication. Mr. Osteen ‘inherited’ the Lakewood ministry from his father, a former Baptist minister who became Pentecostal / Charismatic. Mr. Osteen is considered a “master of public speaking technique”.
Mr. Osteen’s church, on the other hand, offers many educational opportunities to its congregation. In fact the church offers an entire “University of Biblical Money Management”. Class topics include: The Big Payday; Living Your Life in Expectancy; Who Told You That You Couldn’t Be Prosperous?; Testimonies from FBC Success Stories; God’s Plan for Overcomers; Counting the Cost: Insurance, Tithing, Offerings, and Alms.
Oh yeah — and the church will do your tax returns for you, free of charge. And help you with your retirement planning too. Might as well just hand over your social security number when you join.
Joyce Meyer: According to her website, Ms. Meyer holds an earned Ph.D. in Theology from Life Christian University in Tampa, Florida along with two honorary doctorates, one of which is from Oral Roberts University. Having never heard of Life Christian University, I surfed out to see what I could find out about it.
Life Christian University was founded in 1995 and counts among its graduates Kenneth Copeland (who has greatly influenced Ms. Meyer), Gloria Copeland, and Benny Hinn. (Weren’t these guys in ministry long before 1995?) It has a main campus in Tampa and “extensions” at churches around the country and in a few foreign countries. In spite of what the school’s literature might lead you to believe, these extensions are not other campuses in the way most colleges mean the word — they merely hold classes wherever they can.
LCU is accredited by an organization called Accrediting Commission International (ACI). According to the school’s website, “ACI is the accreditation authority for over 21,000 students in 168 schools in nine countries on five continents and operates in thirty-five states within the United States.” According to Quackwatch, in 1989 ACI’s predecessor organization (IAC) was also fooled into accrediting the bogus Eastern Missouri Business College whose faculty included Arnold Ziffel, Eddie Haskell, and the Three Stooges.
Here are some samplings from LCU’s course lists:
- Bachelor’s degree programs include 3 credit hours each in: Christian Character, Biblical Finances (already! – preparing to work for Joel Osteen?), Divine Healing, and Ministry of Helps.
- The Master’s Degree level does not include an MDiv (ordination) program. Masters program requirements include 3 credit hours each in Angelology and Blood Covenant and 6 credit hours in Modern Cults & False Religions. No New Testament or Old Testament survey courses are offered. There are a few courses in individual NT books such as John, Romans, and Hebrews. Greek, Hebrew, and Systematic Theology are not offered.
- The Doctorate-level course list is nearly identical to the Masters-level course list.
And ALL the faculty AND staff members have received their degrees either at Life Christian University or Faith Theological Seminary (a pre-millenial fundamentalist school in Maryland) or both.
For those of you unfamiliar with typical seminary course lists and faculty lists — this stuff is downright creepy. This is like, bring on the Stepford Wives. There’s no question in my mind — if this were a secular organization, they would be under investigation for racketeering or something like it.
And this is what Joyce Meyers rests her credentials on.
Part 1 of this series gave samples of “prosperity” or “word of faith” teachings, and samples of what the Bible has to say about them. Part 3 will be an attempt to figure out why anyone would listen to these preachers. Click here to continue to Part 3: Snake-Oil Sales – Why Do People Listen?