Sunday, January 01, 2006

Ease On Down the Road...to Heaven?!

By: Angela Lee Price

Do you know what you believe and why you believe it? If so, praise God! Apparently, an overwhelming majority of professing Christians believe all roads lead to heaven.

In a September 5, 2005 Newsweek Spirituality in America Special Report, Christians and non-Christians were asked a number of questions pertaining to their spiritual beliefs including “Can a good person who doesn’t share your religious beliefs attain salvation or go to heaven?” Approximately 79% of those polled answered “yes.”

Respondents by category:
Evangelical Protestants, 68%;
Non-evangelical Protestants, 83%;
Roman Catholics, 91%;
Non-Christians, 73%.

It is no wonder then that popular mega church televangelist Joel Osteen can answer “I don’t know” when asked this question on Larry King Live and still continue to pack the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, and command a large television audience each week.

Here is an excerpt of the transcript from the June 20, 2005 Larry King interview with Joel Osteen:

KING: What if you're Jewish or Muslim, you don't accept Christ at all?

OSTEEN: You know, I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know ...

KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They're wrong, aren't they?

OSTEEN: Well, I don't know if I believe they're wrong. I believe here's what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God with judge a person's heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don't know. I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.

Since Joel Osteen knows what the Bible teaches why didn’t he just say there is only on way to heaven, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ? Here is an excerpt from a conversation Jesus had with his disciples from John 14:5-9 (NIV):

THOMAS: Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?

JESUS: I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.

PHILLIP: Lord, show us the Father, and this will be enough for us.

JESUS: “Don’t you know me, Phillip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father.”

When prominent pastors profess to speak for Jesus Christ, but do not speak the entire truth of the gospel, Christians should be outraged enough to defend the faith. But, then again, how can they when so many don’t know what the Christian faith is all about.

In the June 20th interview, Osteen’s responses to other questions were equally troubling. They reflected support for the prosperity gospel and a lukewarm concern for the plight of African Americans:

KING: The Senate apologized last week for slavery. You think the Southern Baptists and a lot of the churches in the South owe some apology, too?

OSTEEN: I've never thought about it. Because I just didn't -- wasn't raised in it.
KING: But you know its history.

OSTEEN: Oh, absolutely. I think that it would never hurt; anything we could do to make mends, the better it can be. That's what I love about our church. It's made up of all different races. That's what life should all be about. That's what God wants it to be.

KING: Doesn't it hurt you that people 50 years ago talking about God and Christ also didn't -- Martin Luther King call 11:00 a.m. Sunday morning the most segregated hour in America? Does it bother you to know that predecessors of yours ...

OSTEEN: Yeah, absolutely bothers me. It's not right. It's a shame, and I don't know how they could do it with a pure heart to God but, you know what? It happened.

In a subsequent Larry King Live interview on September 11, 2005 entitled “Interview with the Dalai Lama; Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; America Remembers 9/11,” Osteen’s remarks were completely void of the mention of suffering as an essential of the Christian faith. In response to the question of why a good God would allowed News Orleans to flood, once again, he responded “I don’t know,” and failed to mention Job’s suffering, and America’s judgment as possible answers.

One thing is for sure, it is through diligent study of the Word of God that one discovers that by following the yellow brick road one will not get to heaven.

To view the entire transcript from the Larry King Live Joel Osteen interview on June 20, 2005, go to www.transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/20/lkl.01.html To read the September 11, 2005 interview, go to www.transcripts.cnn.com/transcripts/0509/11/lkl.01.html.

This article featured in the January, 2006 Jesus Saves Newsletter.

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