Once upon a time, a true prophet of God issued a challenge to several false prophets (1 Kings 18:20–40). It was a contest to see whose God/god would answer when He/he was called.
I won’t go into the specifics, but let’s just say that as the competition was underway, the false prophets were struggling. They prayed but received no answer. They danced and sang, but still no answer. They even started cutting themselves. It didn’t work either.
While all of this was going on, what did the prophet of God do?
He mocked them, and he mocked their god. He called out, “Hey, maybe your god is sleeping ’cuz he doesn’t seem to be answering!”
Then, later, the prophet added this zinger: “Maybe your god is using the bathroom and, you know, kinda busy. Just saying.”
On the surface, these insults seem vindictive, especially in our age of supposed tolerance. They were not, however. They were invitations to repent. They were invitations to leave behind the folly of falsehood. They were an invitation to embrace the real thing, the real God.
For most of us, it wouldn’t be right to attempt to replicate this type of ministry. The “sanctified insult” is a delicate art, and the prophet Elijah was, as it states in the fine print on car commercials, “a professional driver on a closed course.” Sarcasm doesn’t play a prominent role in my ministry, and it never will. Moreover, I’d question anyone who uses it exclusively.
With that said, however, I do think it has a legitimate place. To some, this probably sounds very “unchristian.” Perhaps. But consider that it was Jesus, among all the figures in the Bible, who was best at needling his opponents. You’re the blind leading the blind; you’ll both fall into a pit. And you think you’re so righteous because you strain a gnat from what you drink, but you only do so to swallow a camel. Oh, and you should probably take that 2x4 out of your eye before you do eye surgery on someone else. These are just a few.
The rightful place of sarcasm is to push a certain worldview to its extreme, to its ultimate conclusions. It’s there, at the endgame of a false worldview, that you can see how flimsy and shallow it really is. And few places I know are doing this as well as The Babylon Bee.
The Babylon Bee is the evangelical Christian’s version of The Onion. The tagline for The Babylon Bee is, “your trusted source for Christian news satire.” In other words, nothing is true; it’s all madeup.
One of the areas that The Babylon Bee is at its best, is when it’s stinging prosperity theologians, especially Joel Osteen. Every time there is a new article about him, friends who know I have an interest in this topic send it to me. When I reviewed Osteen’s first book, Your Best Life Now, I intentionally did so without sarcasm. In that particular review, I didn’t want anything to distract readers from the central, gospel issues. But having been thinking about prosperity theology for some time, I’ll tell you that, in my opinion, when The Babylon Bee writes about Osteen, they do it really well.
Below are three of my favorite Babylon Bee posts about Joel Osteen. I’ve included the title of the article, as well as a line or two from each. Also, at the bottom, I’ve included a few other articles more generally about prosperity theology that deserve the title “honorable mentions.”
I hope you laugh at these articles and also shake your head in sadness. Remember, the point of the sarcasm is to push prosperity theology to its logical conclusions. It’s here, at these conclusions, that prosperity theology can be seen for what it really is: ridiculous and evil. Therefore—just like Elijah’s words to the prophets of Baal—these articles, while funny, are also invitations to repent. I’m sure it hurts to be stung by The Bee, but better to be stung and learn from your errors than to perish forever in Hell.
Joel Osteen Apologizes For Using Lord’s Name In Sermon
August 29, 2016
HOUSTON, TX—Calling the incident “an unfortunate choice of words” and “a momentary lapse in judgment,” pastor Joel Osteen issued a public apology Monday morning for using the Lord’s name in his Sunday morning sermon. . .
I really don’t like using harsh words with people. I much prefer speaking words of positivity and declaring victory over the little challenges that life throws my way.
But I have to get real for a second.
All you orphaned, sick, poor, and hungry people out there in those icky third-world nations: I really need you to just get with the program. . .
Joel Osteen Googles ‘What Is A Trinity’
June 14, 2016
HOUSTON, TX—After stumbling upon a lively debate on Twitter Tuesday afternoon regarding the Eternal Functional Submission of the Son within the Trinity, Joel Osteen, Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church, curiously opened a new tab and googled “what is a trinity,” sources confirmed.
“Victoria, have you seen this discussion online about this Trinity?” Osteen reportedly called to his wife, informing her that he was googling the term after she replied that she had “no earthly idea” what he was talking about. . .