I realize that I don't have a dog in this fight, but I'm glad that Joel Osteen is on hand to say he thinks Mormons in general are, and Mitt Romney in particular is, Christian. As the Christian Post reported last week:
"When I hear Mitt Romney say that he believes that Jesus is the Son of God--that he's the Christ, raised from the dead, that he's his Savior--that's good enough for me," said Osteen.
The Texas pastor did say that the Mormon faith was "not traditional Christianity," but that Mormonism still falls under the umbrella of Christian tenets. "Mormonism is a little different, but I still see them as brothers in Christ," said Osteen.
Nor has Osteen, pastor of the most mega megachurch in America, come to this position lately. He's been driving his fellow evangelicals crazy with it at least since 2008. Of course, it all depends on where you sit and when you're sitting there. From where the Jews sit, Mormons look like Christians too. Then again, it's not been very long since evangelicals made a habit of distinguishing Christians (themselves) from Catholics. Now they consider Catholics within the fold. You might say that the Mormons have helped bring them together.
As for Joel the Irenic, he represents a strain of Christianity that just about all contemporary intellectuals, from pedal-to-the-metal Calvinists to secular liberals, regard as bad religion. Here's the Christian Post taxing him with latest such critic, Ross Douthat:
CP: Well it's a new book, released just last week, and there is a chapter called "Pray and Grow Rich"--Chapter 6--and he headlines it with you. He says that you preach an upbeat gospel where "God gives without demanding, forgives without threatening to judge, and hands out His rewards in this life rather than the next. … Osteen embodies the refashioning of Christianity to suit an age of abundance, in which the old war between monotheism and money seems to have ended, for many believers, in a marriage of God and mammon." In short, Douthat is saying you embody the prosperity gospel and promoting Christian heresy. Do you consider yourself a preacher of the prosperity gospel? Is it heresy?
Osteen: You know, I don't consider myself a … I don't really know what the prosperity gospel is. The way I define it is that I believe God wants you to prosper in your health, in your family, in your relationships, in your business, and in your career. So I do … if that is the prosperity gospel, then I do believe that.
Never mind that the most popular preacher of Douthat's Mere Christian Golden Age, Norman Vincent Peale, extolled the power of positive thinking to a postwar public eager for the identical message. Monotheism in the Judeo-Christian tradition pretty much starts off with a gospel of prosperity: God promises the Israelites the good life in a land of milk and honey if they keep their end of the bargain. Is belief in the Covenant now a Christian heresy?