Zev Porat

Friday, September 8, 2017


by Rev. Joda Collins

Dear Pastor Pavlovitz,
Your open letter to Joel Osteen on the Internet contained some rather pointed accusations against him. This open letter to you is about those charges. I am no fan of Osteen as a biblical spokesman, but I will not use this platform to bash him for that. Any saved individual with a Bible, a right heart and the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit can find the truth.
I am concerned, however, about the following charges you levied and/or implied against Osteen and his actions regarding Hurricane Harvey. All parenthesis are mine.
You stated: "...your...response to the hurricane...is wrong...self-serving greed...callousness...tone-deafness in the face of a hurting multitude... (and) lack(s) of something that looks like Jesus."
My response: It is my understanding that Joel was working with city officials almost immediately and opened his church as a location to stockpile resources per city official's request, and to have the church ready for any overflow of people to house if the space was needed. What is wrong with that?
You stated: "...your initial silence and your closed doors."
My response: He was not initially silent about offering the church facilities for use to city officials. He was initially silent about being attacked for not offering the church as a make shift motel to the general public per directions by the city officials. That is his nature; not to respond quickly to verbal attacks. So what!
You stated: "...you waited."
My response: He waited to open his church to house the homeless in compliance with city official who were overseeing the efforts he was part of and did open them when requested by city directors. What is wrong with that?
You wrote: " (your) conflicting stories of a flooded church and impassable roads."
My response: There are always conflicting reports of impassable roads and always doubts about where rising waters might flood yet dry areas, including his church buildings. He was not in a position to prophesy about such things, but to repeat what those who are most likely to know say and that is all he did.
You stated: "...you tweeting out that 'God was still on his Throne,' while thousands of your neighbors were literally under water."
My response: In times of great stress it is not an automatic sin to remind people that God still loves and cares for them.
You stated: "They saw your social media expressions of 'thoughts and prayers' as hollow and disingenuous, knowing the stockpile of other resources at your disposal."
My response: While some may have determined his thoughts and prayers were hollow, there is more than sufficient room to give him the benefit of the doubt. And, again, his stockpile of resources, while under his command, was at the disposal of city officials. It takes time to coordinate efforts in an emergency and it is easy to judge harshly from the stands those performing on the field under the direction of the sideline coaches.
You wrote: "They witnessed with disgust what they deemed as your late and underwhelming act of kindness performed under duress."
My response: Knowing what we now know, he is not guilty of this charge and never was.
You wrote: "They raged at your excuse that Houston didn't ask you to receive victims—because (whether Christian or not) they realized that Jesus' life was marked by an overflow of generosity and compassion and sacrifice that rarely required official invitation."
My Response: Working under the direction of city officials in a decent and orderly fashion is not the same thing as not being compassionate.
You Wrote: "...many people have rightly concluded that the kind of opulence....coddled, cozy existence...you sit nestled in no way resembles the homeless, itinerant street preacher Jesus who relied on the goodness of ordinary people to provide his daily needs. They rightly recognized that mansions are not places that servant leaders emulating this humble, foot-washing Jesus occupy....You are blessed with more abundance than most people will ever know....I don't hold...that against you."
My response: Your words sure read as if you hold his wealth against him. However, that said, many godly men and women of the Bible lived in splendor. God never condemned the rich for the riches, only for using their riches as a foundation for evil and/or for loving money more than God. Are those your charges against Joel?
Joel has not been paid a penny from his congregation for years. He works for free. If Joel is supposed to live like (in some way resemble) Jesus -- a homeless, itinerant street preacher who relied only on the goodness of ordinary people for (only) his basic daily needs," I wonder if you live in a house or have anything to your name beyond your basic daily needs. Have you or your wife ever worked a job where you got paid for your efforts? If so, you are as wrong as you accuse Joel of being, but to a lesser degree. They brought the woman before Jesus with accusations and when Jesus was finished with them, each left in silence. Silence is a better response to living in a big house when we live in little ones. Silence is a better response to those who have a lot compared to us when we have a lot compared to others.
You wrote, "They correctly saw the massive chasm between…(your) ever-grinning, your ship is coming in, name it and claim it prosperity promise that is your bread and butter—and the difficult, painful, sacrificial 'you will have trouble' life that Jesus and those who followed him lived in the Gospels."
My response: There is no doubt that "name it and claim it" is not a good reflection of biblical teaching, however, financial and health blessings as a reward for being godly is not a foreign concept in the Bible. Also, Jesus and his followers experienced good times and bad times, not just pain unending as you seem to imply. I doubt Joel's life has been, is or will be without sorrow, pain or loss. Sometimes those who are the happiest are so because they live in the constant awareness of past sorrows and their happiness is just an ongoing expression of gratitude.
What you call "ever-grinning" I think of as an outward expression of an inwardly happy person. I like to be around happy people. I like his smile.
You wrote: "...when people around you are in peril --respond...don't wait...don't make excuses."
My response: Now that some time has passed and the Christian hating media has been proven liars, we know that he did respond, he did not wait and relaying the developing situation as he was made aware of it by those who were positioned better than him to know, was not making excuses.
You stated: "...recall the parable Jesus tells of the Good Samaritan...."
My response: To imply that Joel would not have compassion on and help a beaten and dying man he found lying in the street is unwarranted.
You wrote: "....remember Jesus on the hillside feeding the multitude...."
My response: To imply that Joel would not be part of those that handed out free never-ending food to the hungry is, also, unwarranted criticism.
Your words: "You're quite likely a good, loving, and decent man (who got) distracted (got) it wrong, (and) need to recover (your) why."
My response: Hurricanes are mentally and emotionally disruptive. However, Joel got nothing wrong and he did nothing wrong. I suspect it will take a million dollars or more for his facilities to house and recover from turning those facilities into a make shift motel.
Pastor Pavlovitz, I suspect most or all of what you wrote you now regret writing. When we, myself included, express ourselves in the heat of the moment, we often overreact and we often get it wrong. I suspect you are a good, loving and decent man.
Your friend,
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Rev. Joda Collins
I make no claim that anyone else agrees with me.

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