For people who love to study cultural change, the transition from a Billy Graham style of Christianity to the new Joel Osteen style is entertainment supreme.
The generation of Billy Graham is scoffing at Joel Osteen. “He tells people what they want to hear. He doesn’t follow the scriptures.” They are only repeating what inevitably was said about Billy Graham by the generation that preceded him. Graham and Osteen are both products of the popular culture of their times.
Billy Graham followed arena-style preachers. His delivery, cadence and persona were tailored to the venues in which he performed. His southern theology, groomed to appeal more broadly, told people to feel good about themselves in a back handed way, “You are going to heaven. People you don’t like, sinners, are going to hell.”
Today, the culture has come to believe negative messages, putting down others, is a bad thing. Children are taught this and their parents believe it. Osteen’s message is we don’t have to put others down to feel good about ourselves. Let’s all be positive about ourselves and others.
Neither Graham nor Osteen can guarantee what they promise you will come true. Both messages are shrouded in mysterious beings no one has ever seen. There is no more substance behind Graham’s message of sin and hell than behind Osteen’s Jesus wants you to succeed.
When the Bible was written, it was to appeal to the culture of that time. As cultures have changed, so has its meaning.
Pastor Hell has been replaced with Pastor Positive.