Joel Osteen is the biggest minister in America. He is the preacher for the largest church congregation in the country, (25,000); the nondenominational Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. He is seen in over 100 nations around the world.
Many of you reading this have probably read an Osteen book or enjoyed his sermons on Sunday. But some Christians have been looking into just what Osteen is preaching, and asking if it is enough. Or even correct.
Osteen preaches what is referred to as the Prosperity Gospel. This is a belief that wealth and power are rewards for pious Christians.
Is this true? In my opinion, maybe. In that I think all of our blessings are of God.
But Osteen seems to be saying that it WILL happen. So what if it does not? Bad stuff happens. Does that mean you weren’t a good enough Christian?
Is such a positive sermon style a good thing, or is it ultimately dangerous?
Osteen speaks of Christ’s sacrifice and what it means to us.
“The fact that he shed his own blood, he went through all that difficulty, I’m not going to let that go to waste. I know I have a rightful place of victory. I know I’m supposed to live an abundant life. I know God didn’t create any of us to be average. He didn’t create us to barely get by. He created us to stand out in a crowd.”
But did Christ die for our sins or our prosperity?
Some would argue that Osteen seems to take part in the Thomas Jefferson concept of looking at what Bible he wants to look at, and ignoring other parts. For Osteen, concepts that are difficult. But isn’t it a preacher’s job to have an opinion?
Osteen is controversial not for saying outrageous things, but for not saying anything close to outrageous…at least to a nonbeliever. Or simply, in not having an opinion.
Osteen does not use the word sin. He refers to us as “making mistakes”
830 times sin is mentioned in the Bible.
When asked by Larry King if he uses the word "sinners," Osteen replied, "I don't use it. I never thought about it. But I probably don't. But most people already know what [when] they're doing wrong. When I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change."
This clip below got a lot more people looking at Mr. Osteen.
Byron Pitts of 60 Minutes Interviewed Osteen as well as Professor of theology at Westminster Seminary, Rev Michael Horton.
Osteen: “I think most people already know what they are doing wrong. For me to get in here and beat em’ down and talk down to em’. I just don’t think that inspires anybody to rise higher.”
Horton: “I think it’s a cotton candy gospel. His core message is God is nice, your nice…be nice. If it were a form of music I think it would be easy listening. He uses the Bible like a fortune cookie. This is what’s gonna happen for you. There’s gonna be a windfall in your life tomorrow. The Bible is not meant to be read that way."
"It is certainly heresy I believe, to say, that God is our resource for getting our best life now.”
Horton: “It makes religion about us instead of about God.”
Osteen doesn’t understand the criticism.
“I’m not leading them to some false God.”
As a moment of defending himself, Osteen said, “We have people sitting in the audience today of different faiths. And that doesn’t bother me, cuz our job is to just help anybody from any faith to improve their life.”
This last quote is one that would raise the ire of a minister like Paul Washer. Washer has often been used as an example of a Christian minister with a solid distinction in these views from Osteen.
Washer: “We live in a day where we think in order to be relevant to our culture, we must be like our culture. We are relevant not because we are like our culture but because we are absolutely different.”
“Everything about God’s messiah contradicted everything that men believed about the
“People say ‘I have a new relationship with God’…well it should be ‘do you have a new relationship with sin?’ Because if you don’t have a new relationship with sin…then you don’t have a new relationship with God.”
“Societies as we know them, the West is crumbling before us and we still choose to be trite and frivolous and happy”
Osteen: “The gospel is translated Good News. And to me Good News is letting people know that God loves them, that Jesus came, that we can overcome any obstacle, that we can be forgiven for our mistakes. I don’t see how beating people down every time they get in front of me helps them get closer to God.”
Washer: “The new generations to follow cannot be bothered with truth. A man that will not accept his illness cannot be healed. A man who does not have all his hopes crushed with regard to his own self righteousness, merit and worth cannot turn to Christ.
We must realize that we are destitute and we have only one savior and his name is Jesus.”
2 Timothy 4: 3-4
3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.