I got a lot of hate mail last week in response to my column about Joel Osteen. Much of the hate mail was from the usual sources. But much of it came from so-called conservative atheists. These conservative unbelievers thought I should stop talking about my religious views on a conservative “political” website. But I refuse to do so for two reasons: 1) Because God is a conservative. 2) Because Joel Osteen is bad for both Christianity and conservatism.
The assertion that God is a conservative may sound strange to some. But I’m completely serious. A conservative is simply one who believes that man is born with a propensity to do evil things and that this propensity has important implications for the way we govern.
For example, the conservative believes the hedonistic tendencies of all men require a strong emphasis on family values. Children must be taught such values at an early age lest their hedonistic tendencies translate into criminal conduct. This is just one of the many ways that religion and politics intersect.
Of course, the conservative also believes there must be a backup plan to prevent crime among citizens who have not internalized certain values. That backup plan involves punishment, which is swift, certain, and severe. Conservatives talk about punishment because it is necessary given the conservative view of human nature.
That same view of human nature requires that we conduct foreign policy through a position of strength. Just as we want a potential criminal to fear transgression against our laws, we want rogue nations to be fearful of the consequences of military aggression.
But the liberal will have none of this. He believes that man is innately good. Therefore, the liberal considers it the duty of the criminal justice system to “reeducate” the criminal who was doing just fine before he was corrupted by “bad” society.
Because he sees man as good, the liberal sees war as nothing more than a terrible misunderstanding. Such “misunderstandings” are best prevented by diplomacy. Bombs are not needed. We only need the United Nations (and good translators).
God is not neutral in this debate. He holds the conservative view of human nature. He is the original Author of that view. In Genesis 3, it is made abundantly clear that man will not experience utopia on this planet. Two humans cannot follow one simple rule in order to live a life of bliss on earth. Man constantly seeks to compete and to get ahead. And he trips over others in the process.
So those who assert that Jesus was a liberal (or that socialism is God’s vision for the world) are simply woefully ignorant of the scriptures. Just as God dispenses with the liberal view of human nature in Genesis 3, He provides a powerful metaphor for the futility of socialism in Genesis 11. And no subsequent verse contradicts this dire prediction of the consequences of man’s desire to reach the heavens through his own devices.
But, of course, no one seems to defer to (or even read) the Holy Bible today. America’s most influential religious leader, Oprah Winfrey, certainly does not defer to the Holy Bible. She tells audiences that Jesus was too humble to have ever claimed to be God. When she says such silly things her audience simply nods in agreement. Their Holy Bible is whatever Oprah says it shall be during that particular month.
Nor does our second most influential religious leader, Joel Osteen, defer to the Bible. He waves it above his head before he preaches. But then he sets it down and gives his message without any reference to the Word. It is no wonder that he cannot answer simple questions about the number of paths to salvation. Or, more accurately stated, that he will not answer such simple questions.
There is much wealth to be gained by taking the Word and re-writing it to suit your interests. To tell the world that Jesus was just a man who provided a good moral example is to tell them they can be like Jesus, too. People want to believe this because everyone wants to be worshipped by someone.
But to tell the world that Jesus is a God who must be relied upon for salvation is to tell them they must worship Him. That makes many people feel uncomfortable. And when you make people feel uncomfortable they are unlikely to give you money or buy your stuff.
Joel Osteen sells tickets to people who wish to hear him preach the Gospel. Actually, that is a half-truth. He sells tickets to people who wish to hear him preach half truths about the Gospel. They don’t like to hear about the realities of man’s sinful nature or the need for repentance. They like to hear a rich man smile and say that God wants them to be rich and happy, too. And they pay good money to hear him say that.
Joel Osteen makes millions of dollars suppressing Holy Scripture. Oprah Winfrey makes billions actually rewriting them. And the conservative atheist fails to see the connection between the current popularity of these two charlatans and the current political climate in this declining nation.
And I am left wondering why the conservative atheist fails to see the connection between his political beliefs and God’s Holy Word. I also wonder why men die to defend beliefs that will die alongside them.