(Book review) Blessed in the Darkness


Reviewed byAlyssa Roat, a professional writing major at Taylor University.

 


Introduction

Title: Blessed in the Darkness

AuthorJoel Osteen

PublisherFaithWords

Publication Date2017

FormatPrint book

Length288 pages

OVERVIEW

     This book assures readers that though they may go through dark times, God is using it for good to bring about better things. However, the core of theology is sadly lacking.

     The book has eighteen chapters, but the message could be condensed into a single pamphlet. Even in small sections, the same sentence may be repeated verbatim several times. For example, Osteen uses the phrase “night season” approximately 37 times in the 12-page chapter entitled “Night Seasons.” Osteen offers no practical tips and repeats the same message over and over for 288 pages.

     Even more egregious are Osteen’s theological inaccuracies and flamboyant attitude toward the Bible. The first red flag is his refusal to use references when citing Scripture, which he will immediately follow up, also in quotations, with his own interpretations of what the biblical figures may have said or thought, with no distinction between his fictionalization and actual Scripture. His fictionalizations also spill over into his accounts of the biblical stories, with which he takes so much liberty as to make them inaccurate, for example claiming that Paul and Silas walked out of jail, when it is clearly and poignantly stated in the Bible that they remained even after their chains were broken in order to minister to the jailer.

     Also, his theological claims fly in the face of general Christian doctrine. “God is a just God and will repay the compensation owed us,” Osteen claims on page 158. According to Osteen, if believers experience hardships in life, God owes them for those hard times, though Romans clearly states that God owes humanity nothing, as all deserve eternal damnation and all good things are gifts from Him. Supposedly, God will repay this debt by giving believers an equal measure of good things—not, as one would think, in heaven, but in this life. Osteen calls this “balancing the books.” According to Osteen, if a person remains faithful, he or she will receive healing from illness, promotions at work, and material blessings. Furthermore, sometimes, Osteen says, we shouldn’t cry out to God, because He wants us to handle it on our own. Also, instead of preaching a message of loving one’s enemies, Osteen claims that if one remains faithful, he or she will one day delight in seeing their enemies come groveling to them in need. One cannot help but wonder what the many martyrs would think of such promises of health, prosperity, and glory.

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5)

1 star

Suggested Audience

This is suggested for mature Christians who wish to understand Osteen’s views.

Christian Impact

This work provides a fascinating—if disappointing—glimpse into the doctrines of Osteen’s prosperity gospel. It teaches reliance on self and faith as a means to material prosperity. It may be used to practice spotting heresy, biblical inaccuracies, and one’s own selfish desires.

 


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About Evangelical Church Library Association

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals.

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