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Augustine on Osteen

The Osteen’s have been in the news lately, but the problem of prosperity teaching has been an issue for a long time. I confronted it in the first church I pastored, where I began referring to these teachers as the “name-it-claim-it, call-it-haul-it, blab-it-grab-it, profess-it-possess-it” crew. I continue to be surprised by the people who get captivated by it. It is a rampant problem in many developing countries which I have seen in discussions with pastors while visiting their countries.

With this in mind, I was struck by the following comment by Augustine in his mammoth work, City of God.

“who is so absurd, and blinded by contentious opinionativeness, as to be audacious enough to affirm that in the midst of the calamities of this mortal state, God’s people, or even one single saint, does live, or has ever lived, or shall ever live, without tears or pain—the fact being that the holier a man is, and the fuller of holy desire, so much the more abundant is the tearfulness of his supplication?”

Augustine does not have in mind prosperity teachers, but rather is asserting what he assumes anyone except the absurd and blind would see. He is stating a rhetorical question to which he expects us to answer, “No one.” Sadly, today we have names with which to answer and names of people who claim to be Christian teachers. We would do better to listen to this ancient teacher of the church.

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