'Cultural affirmation' strategy – a disastrous design for American churches

'Cultural affirmation' strategy – a disastrous design for American churches

'Cultural affirmation' strategy – a disastrous design for American churches

A conservative talk-show host contends Sunday's near-miss massacre at Joel Osteen's megachurch in Houston is a sad picture of modern-day church Christians who strive for the approval of society over that of God.

Osteen didn't target his congregants at Lakewood Church, but his message – and the message from too many other pulpits – has created the climate that would allow for an attempted massacre, says conservative Christian commenter Steve Deace.

Two off-duty law enforcement officers shot and killed Genessee Ivonne Moreno before she could kill many others after she entered the church Sunday afternoon dressed in a trench coach and carrying a long gun. She was accompanied by a young boy reported by CNN as her son.

Further reports have identified Moreno as an immigrant with a lengthy criminal record and with "Palestine" written on her rifle. She was at one point placed under a court order for emotional detention.

Deace, an Iowa-based talk-show host and Blaze Media contributor, said on American Family Radio Tuesday that Moreno's attempt to take down Lakewood – a non-denomination church that weekly draws thousands to a building that once housed Houston's NBA team – is a sad picture of the modern-day church getting what it has preached.

Deace, Steve (Blaze TV) Deace

"It's a microcosm of an entire listless generation of the American Church. The Church is declining by choice. It wasn't defeated – it just decided, 'We're done, this is too hard.' Over the last generation it has sought after cultural affirmation," Deace said.

He argued that too many Christians have tried to use the Republican Party as an avenue to gain acceptance and societal concessions. "They're not the majority; and so, in opposition to this, another group has emerged that says the path forward is the false choice," Deace explained.

The latter group preaches two things: unquestioning acceptance of all people regardless of the sin in their lives, and what is commonly known as the "prosperity gospel," Deace said.

Taking on Joel Osteen

Lakewood Pastor Joel Osteen is a chief offender in the false message, Deace continued.

"The face of this, the most successful embodiment of this, is Joel Osteen. He's been on Oprah. He has his own channel on SiriusXM. His church just paid off a $100 million loan, and I have no idea why any church would ever need such a thing. He has preached the gospel of Bobby McFerrin, 'Don't Worry Be Happy,' for a generation.

"He and his congregation have given this culture everything it wants. He's done everything the spirit of the age says a Christian minister must do to merit its approval – and how was he repaid? An illegal alien armed, ironically enough, with an AR-15, who is gender dysphoric insane, went to his church with the intent of massacring as many people as she could. That was his potter's field. He received his reward in full," Deace said.

Deace said Osteen failed as a pastor when he did not advance Christian beliefs when they were under attack. For example, he pointed out Osteen didn't publicly oppose the election of Annise Parker in 2009 as the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. city.

When Parker pushed to allow biological males in women's restrooms in the city, Osteen was silent – and he remained silent, Deace noted, when the city issued subpoenas for pastors' sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity, or Parker herself.

"This country's gone to literal hell, and no ideology has stepped in and said, 'You guys are wrong, and we've defeated you in the arena of ideas.' The Church has just quit – and the ultimate sign of the times is what was just attempted at Lakewood Church.

"They gave the enemy everything he's wanted, and they were repaid with an almost-massacre from a deranged person who symbolizes every front: open borders, rainbow jihad, and brandishing an AR-15," Deace described.

Churches need to make security a 'ministry'

Theology aside, houses of worship have become popular targets in the active shooter age.

Tim Miller, a security consultant and service provider, formerly of the Washington Field Office Secret Service team, said on Washington Watch Monday that the Biden administration's stance toward religious institutions and people is contributing to increased attacks against churches.

"It absolutely does," Miller told show host Tony Perkins.

The administration's targeting of Pennsylvania pro-life advocate Mark Houck and Catholic churches through DOJ resources are two examples.

"The thing that concerns me is when you watch what our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community are facing now – unparalleled anti-Semitism – it shouldn't surprise us that that's beginning to pivot now towards Christian communities. The reality is if we believe scripture, it's only going to get worse," Miller said.

He compared today's times to Nehemiah's rebuilding of Jerusalem. "I don't ever preach fear; I preach wisdom and preparation. And I think if we look at the Nehemiah model, it's very appropriate. We pray to our God first, and then we post a guard because those are the times we're living in," Miller said.

Miller said churches need to come to realize that security is as important as pulpit preaching and Bible study.

"I view security as just another ministry in the church, much like worship. Like any other ministry, we have to have the heart of David first and then the skills of David. When that happens, the work – the security ministry – then begins to recognize the church is a hospital.

"We want broken people to come, yes – but we also want people to be safe in the process of coming," Miller concluded.