On Huff Post today we learn that Reza Aslan thinks that T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen are charlatans.
That is not exactly a newsworthy pronouncement. Every televangelist, at least since Aimee Semple McPherson and probably before, has been a charlatan. One need not discriminate between the personalities. They are all persons practicing some form of quackery in order to obtain money, notoriety, or some other form of advantage by means of outrageous claims or deception. The very notion that the message of Jesus of Nazareth could be promulgated as though it were some kind of ‘get rich for sure’ scheme is ludicrous on its face. If there is anything that one can say without doubt, it is that there is nothing in the sayings of Jesus in the Christian tradition that indicates that Jesus was inclined to promote the accumulation of wealth. In the topsy-turvy world his teachings describe and invite into existence, the rich will be exhausted of their means and the poor will be exalted in theirs. The ‘prosperity gospel’ sweetly summoned by Osteen and Jakes would be silly were it not taken so seriously by so many. The number of adherents to the ‘prosperity gospel’ testifies not to its truth but to the triumph of desperation. People with little or no means will believe most anything that promises them more than they have.
Their greater deception though, of the preachers of our airwaves and cyberspace, is that there is some Great Sugar Daddy in the Sky who is interested in and favorably disposed toward any of us or all of us. Certainly the theodicy question raised by the Holocaust of either Jews or Armenians leaves any thinking person doubting the very existence of any God. Only those well versed in theological subterfuge can get any omniscient and merciful God off the hot-seat of judgement in the face of history’s horrors. And yes, human free-will is just such a subterfuge.
The Cartoon Network offers both better entertainment and information than the religious channels, whatever their stripe.