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Bible Verses Taken Out of Context
on December 21, 2005
Everyone can benefit from a having a more positive attitude, and this book definitely helps inspire that. However, Osteen takes positive thinking to a level of ridiculousness. His premise is that God wants only good to happen to us, and that is what we can expect if we just have faith. The Bible teaches that God "makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45). Good and bad things happen to all people. At times, God even disciplines his children, which is unpleasant (Hebrews 12:5-11). Essentially, Osteen repeats the same thing over and over, just in different words with different stories.
The most dangerous part of this book, however, is the constant misuse of Scripture. Osteen constantly takes Bible passages out of context. For example, in Chapter 2, Osteen writes, "It's important that you program your mind for success. That won't happen automatically. Each day, you must choose to live with an attitude that expects good things to happen to you. The Bible says, 'Set your mind and keep it on the higher things.' When you get up in the morning, the first thing you should do is set your mind in the right direction. [...] Start your day with faith and expectancy, and then go out anticipating good things."
"Set your mind and keep it on the higher things" is taken from Colossians 3:2. It is referring to spiritual things, not physical fortune! The context of this verse Osteens plucks from the Bible is this: "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." This passage teaches the opposite of what Osteen is trying to make this passage say. Our priorities ("setting our minds") is NOT on earthly things, which includes good fortune, but on the spiritual things in life.
If you can read this book with these things in mind, you can still benefit from the simple message that can be summed up in one sentence: Think positively so that your actions will move you towards success rather than defeat.
But beware of Osteen's twisting of the Scriptures!