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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Wet and Wild, Part Two 

I previously quoted from various reports (AP, Liberty's Blog, KTRK, more KTRK) regarding the incident with Victoria Osteen and Continental Airlines, including Osteen's own statement on the incident.

...[I]t was truly a minor misunderstanding and did not escalate into what you saw or read in the news. Contrary to those reports it was my choice to remove myself from the situation. Nonetheless, it was a most unfortunate event and I truly regret that it happened.

The last thing I would ever want to do is let any of you down. And I promise you that I did not act in any way that would cast a bad light on you, my family, Lakewood Church or our Lord Jesus Christ....

Today I looked at recent blogs on the incident, which still continues to be discussed. John Luke observes:

As with any incident, there are (at least) two sides to the story. But my point is not whether Mrs. Osteen was at fault or not. It is that the mainstream media seems to think it rich when what I'll call a "public Christian" is involved in any conflict.

The sense I get is that the MSM, and, perhaps secular society at large, expects much, much better behavior from Christians. Well, it is true that many, many "Christians" do violate our Lord's warning in Matthew 6:1

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

This must especially be applied to some televangelists and their wives. Who can forget the scandalous Jimmy and Tammy Faye Bakker?

Can you spell hypocrisy, boys and girls? Because this is what preachers get nailed with as soon as they stray from some model of perfection. The Bakkers earned the sobriquet, to be sure. It's far from clear the Osteens have, even if I don't especially approve of how they put forth God's message. They don't need my approval, after all.

But are we not all fallen in our natures? Even the best among us is less than he or she should be. The Osteens no less, nor more, than I. Or you. We'd all like for public Christians like the Osteens to be blameless; it's less embarrassing for the rest of us. Well, some of us would...others just love to wallow in that good ol' schadenfreude....

In some cases, the incident allows people to talk about the Osteens' ministry in general:

But this family has always struck me as a little odd. Where does a Pastor get 90 million dollars to redesign a former sports center for a worship auditorium? And then, WHY? Doesn't this seem a little over done, and a little self-focused and maybe not so God-Focused?

If its scriptural (and it is, check out 1 Corinthians 14: 34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-15 in the Bible) that women aren't supposed to preach, then why does Victoria Osteen continue do so? There are quite a few things that rub my spirit the wrong way about how this family functions, call me an overly conservative Baptist but say la vie. I've never felt that these people really communicated what God wanted so much as what they wanted.

On the other hand:

Joel Osteen has had his share of criticism recently especially his wife Victoria. But I do like the positive message he presents. Willowcreek and Saddleback have changed church as we know it today. I guess anytime you become successful people come after you a criticize your practices. I for one am grateful for the great things that these leaders have shared with the world. I may not agree with everything that they are doing, but as Paul said as long as Christ is preached, I rejoice!

Dave Burchett obviously had fun titling his post Victoria's Nearly Secret Apology. (Although frankly I think "Wet and Wild" is more catchy.) Burchett was troubled by Osteen's letter:

I pray that the Osteens will handle this in a way that demonstrates the humility and grace of Jesus. We all make mistakes. It is how we respond to them that can make a difference. Repenting and repairing by asking forgiveness is a very good way to practice damage control.

I felt that was a fair handling of the incident and I really hoped that the Osteens would act promptly and humbly. Tuesday went by with no response. On Wednesday a letter to the congregation at Lakewood Community Church gave Mrs.Osteen’s take on the event. I was disappointed by the response....

Perhaps the Osteens made an effort to apologize to the passengers that were inconvenienced and delayed. I hope so and will assume they have. But I have a hard time with the term “minor misunderstanding.”...

[S]he somehow acted in a way that cast a bad light on her, her family, the church, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Again, while I likely have a large plank in my own eye that should be removed, I think that if Mrs.Osteen had acted in love the plane would have taken off on time. The Proverbs instructs that a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

I had hoped her statement would have begun with the admission “I am not perfect” and followed with a humble confession and seeking of forgiveness. I don’t know the percentage of culpability for Victoria Osteen in this dispute. But I do know that the bar is raised significantly higher for her than for the FBI, Continental Airlines, or any other party. And that is because she is a visible representative of Jesus. Any of us who claim the title have a greater responsibility and fewer rights. Jesus gave up His rights in order to be a servant. And I hold myself accountable to this same standard....

[E]xactly what was the adversity here? A spill in first class that was not cleaned up properly on the way to a ski trip? On the scale of adversity that is pretty benign. The rest seems self-inflicted. I believe that God causes all things to work together for good. But I also believe that much is expected from those to whom much is given. The Osteens are richly blessed. It appears they made a mess of things this time. Would it be too much to humbly admit that?

And Osteen was a topic at other churches:

We had five people come to church this morning; we didn't do church, we just made coffee, ate kolaches and gossiped about Victoria Osteen. At noon, we quickly moved the television and stereo equipment around, and it's MUCH better.

Uh, yeah...

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