Joel Osteen’s Christianity without a Cross

The sad thing about Joel Osteen is that he has all the marks of a sincere person. I just finished watching the profile of his ministry on “60 Minutes,” and there is not one thing about him that looks phony. He is one of the most likeable, loveable fellows that you’ll ever see. I really think he believes everything he is saying.

That is why what he does is so awful. The prosperity gospel that Osteen preaches will damn the very people he intends to help (if they believe it), and he appears completely unaware of the darkness into which he plunges his followers. Osteen’s lack of awareness of his own blindness was prophesied in the scriptures: “Evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). If anyone has ever been deluded by his own error, it’s Joel Osteen.

Nevertheless, Osteen pastors a church that has about 42,000 people attending every week. On top of that, his television broadcast reaches an estimated 7 million people on a weekly basis. Yet by his own admission, his message focuses on the “positive,” and not on sin, redemption, and the cross of Jesus Christ. In other words, his message doesn’t focus on the Gospel. I would have to say that there is hardly anything distinctively Christian about anything that he says. And if fact, the prosperity “gospel” is decidedly anti-Christian (1 Timothy 6:10).

As I was watching the “60 Minutes” interview, I was aghast that Osteen openly admits that he preaches this way. He doesn’t even blush when he says it.

Inteviewer: “[In your new book, you write that] to become a better you, you must be positive towards yourself, develop better relationships, embrace the place where you are. Not one mention of God in that. Not one mention of Jesus Christ in that.”

Osteen: “That’s just my message. There is scripture in there that backs it all up. But I feel like, Byron, I’m called to help people…how do we walk out the Christian life? How do we live it? And these are principles that can help you. I mean, there’s a lot better people qualified to say, ‘Here’s a book that going to explain the scriptures to you.’ I don’t think that’s my gifting.”

Osteen has no idea that the Bible teaches that pastors must be able to do precisely what Osteen says he’s not gifted to do—teach the scriptures (1 Timothy 3:2). Moreover, pastors have to know the word so well that they are able to refute false teachers and their teachings: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). Not only does Osteen not have the pastoral gift of teaching, he is himself a false teacher.

I am writing this blog because I think Osteen is dangerous. The prosperity “gospel” that he preaches makes the Almighty into a cosmic slot machine; just believe hard enough and you’ll hit paydirt and have your “best life now.” Yet the Christian gospel explicitly teaches that if a person tries to have their best life now, they will forfeit eternity: “Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26).

Listen to Joel Osteen at your own risk. He is peddling death. And he is affable enough to make you feel like it’s life. But do not be deceived. Nothing could be further from the truth.

121 Responses to Joel Osteen’s Christianity without a Cross

  1. Geoff Baggett October 15, 2007 at 7:24 am #

    Denny,

    An excellent analysis. My wife and I watched the segment. All we could do was shake our heads. Frankly, I was blown away that while the interviewer “called him out” on the absence of the Gospel, Osteen seemed oblivious to it.

    Indeed, the peddlers of this (false) “prosperity gospel” are peddling death. Well said.

    http://geoffbaggett.com
    http://sbcimpact.net

  2. Samuel October 15, 2007 at 9:50 am #

    I agree. Osteen’s message is the message of death. Thanks for your well written post.

  3. jeremy z October 15, 2007 at 9:52 am #

    Denny I extracted three quotes that I want to deal with:

    “he appears completely unaware of the darkness into which he plunges his followers.”

    I agree with you in one sense. He does appear to be unaware. However in another sense to say he is in darkness is a different type of judgment. Do you understand the implication when you say “one is in darkness?” Since Joel is unaware, his intentions are still great. Joel did not wake up one more and go: God I do not want to preach your Word. Heretics always have the best of intentions, and did not wake up that day and go: Lord I am going to be a heretic today. Yes he is unaware, but I do not think it is right to make a personal judgment about who is in darkness when they are still proclaiming to be a believer.

    “Yet by his own admission, his message focuses on the “positive,” and not on sin, redemption, and the cross of Jesus Christ. In other words, his message doesn’t focus on the Gospel.”

    To say his message does not focus on the gospel is a leap. I define the gospel by saying: One needs to be free. One needs to be reconciled to God. One needs to be in freedom under Christ. I think Joel is preaching a version of the gospel without focusing on the sanctification and justification elements.

    Not only does Osteen not have the pastoral gift of teaching, he is himself a false teacher.

    Well 47,000 affirm his gift of teaching.

    By no means am I endorsing what Joel is doing. But I have to sit back and critique the success of his movement. Even though I disagree with him, I am like well 47,000 people are getting up every Sunday to go to church. That is a lot better if 47,000 were not getting up to go to church.

  4. Luthsem/Rich October 15, 2007 at 10:21 am #

    What Joel Osteen is promoting is a theology of glory which is centered on self opposed to the theology of the cross that is centered on Christ and His work on the cross for us.

    Dr. Gene Veith has some interesting insights in this book:
    http://theologyofcross.blogspot.com/2007/10/gene-edward-veith-on-theology-of-cross.html

  5. Andrew October 15, 2007 at 12:05 pm #

    You mentioned that Osteen should know that pastors are to be able to teach – but in the interview, he said he refers to himself as a “life-coach.” It was interesteding to him explain about the $100 million renovation to the Compaq Center, but when he was asked why there were no crosses or religious symbols, he said he didn’t know. He said he didn’t like using the word pulpit. I know that’s a small thing but it is representative about his general views of the sufficiency of scriptural preaching.
    He’s very genuine. I am from Houston and I had a neighbor who was diagnosed with cancer. She was not a member of his church but he visited her three times in the hospital to pray for her before she died. But as genuine as he is he is misleading people. I thought the interviewer asked good questions and I thought the guy they interviewed from Westminster was great.

  6. McBride October 15, 2007 at 1:05 pm #

    Jeremy z,

    “..preaching a version of the gospel without focusing on the sanctification and justification elements.”

    That is not a “version”, that is not the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ at all!! If you take out those elements the Cross is meaningless.

  7. Rob October 15, 2007 at 1:07 pm #

    Horrible logic:

    “…Joel is preaching a version of the gospel without focusing on the sanctification and justification elements.”

    Without those elements, there is no gospel, period.

    “…47,000 people are getting up every Sunday to go to church. That is a lot better if 47,000 were not getting up to go to church.”

    Well, this is off as well. I’d rather have them stay home then be false converts. Mormons have more, so do Muslims. Numbers matter not.

  8. Todd Pruitt October 15, 2007 at 3:21 pm #

    Jeremy,

    I appreciate your gracious spirit. I also appreciate the fact that you desire to give Joel Osteen every benefit of the doubt.

    I am troubled however by your understanding of the Gospel ["I define the gospel as..."]. We do not have to define the Gospel. It is defined for us in Scripture (1 Cor. 15). Furthermore, the Gospel is completely lost without the message of justification which is the very heart of the Gospel.

    I have no doubt that Joel Osteen is a nice fellow. Remember, however, that Paul preferred a scoundrel who preached the Gospel to a nice man who distorted it (Phil 1:17-18).

    Joel Osteen’s message is a tragic twisting of the Gospel for it intentionally lacks aknowlegement of both the need for justification (sin) and the ground of justification (Christ’s substitutionary atonement).

    No matter how nice or sincere he is, Joel is preaching another gospel and Scripture makes it clear what the consequences are for doing so. The size of the crowd he attracts only amplifies the tragedy.

    todd

  9. Ray Van Neste October 15, 2007 at 4:12 pm #

    Good post Denny.

  10. Blank Slate October 15, 2007 at 4:12 pm #

    Well said gentlemen!

    Jeremy this is twice now that I have seen a desire of yours to be (and say) more than you know.

    I understand that you are young (according to your blog), having a blog is “cool” but it don’t mean you have to comment on everything.

    Keep learning and growing, it takes years to get to where some of these guys are at.

    Blank

  11. Bryan L October 15, 2007 at 5:30 pm #

    Blank Slate do you realize how you come off when you say what you do to Jeremy especially when you bring up his age and his knowledge? It sounds arrogant and this is twice that you’ve done it.

    Honestly I think it would be better for you to just keep your comments to yourself or reply to Jeremy personally on his blog.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  12. Barry October 15, 2007 at 8:48 pm #

    Nothing in the CBS piece surprised me except that last paragraph:

    “Osteen can bench-press 300 lbs., which is twice his body weight.”

    Seriously. Good piece, Denny. Thanks for posting.

    Barry

  13. Denny Burk October 15, 2007 at 9:27 pm #

    Barry,

    You are hilarious.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  14. Nielsen October 15, 2007 at 9:38 pm #

    Jim Baker in his book, I Was Wrong, writes about how sincere he was in his beliefs regarding prosperity gospel. While he was in prison and reading the scriptures he came face to face that he had preached a false gospel. And may I add – there is still hope for Osteen… It’s a common sad story regarding these preachers and warning to all of us. Sincere about “God” can still be sincerely wrong… this is very scary for me to think about regarding my own life and my beliefs, it challenges me again to go too scripture not my reason.

    And by the way, anyone who knows anything about weights, or physics, knows his machine -pulley 300 pound bench is more like 140 pounds – good grief.

  15. Denny Burk October 15, 2007 at 10:12 pm #

    That’s a good word, Nielsen. Thanks.

  16. Jesica October 15, 2007 at 10:21 pm #

    Denny,

    Thank you so much for your blog post today. You were able to say, quite thoroughly, what I have been trying to explain to friends for some time.

    I’m going to add a link to this post to my blog, if you’re ok with that. It’s just so good.

    About a year ago a friend of mine, who knows that I have a heart for inductive Bible study, called me and said, “Hey Jes! I have 6 tickets for Joel Olsteen tonight, and I thought of you. We can’t go, but if you want them they’re yours.”

    I politely declined.

    Well, we’re pretty good friends, and the type that can be quite honest with one another, so she then asked, “Why? Don’t you like him?”.

    “No. I don’t”, I replied.

    So she went on, “Well, is there anyone that you know that might like to have them?”

    “The thing is, if I were to help you find someone for them, I’d be partly responsible for the false teaching that they’d hear, so I gotta pass.”

    She laughed, and then asked if I was serious.

    “Dead, serious,” I explained.

    It’s heartbreaking, for this same friend called me last week to tell me how excited she was that at their church they’re going through a class on “centered” prayer…I think it’s right before their yoga class.

    No, I’m not kidding.

    Thanks for being willing to stand for the Truth, and for being used of God to share it.

    In Him,
    Jesica

  17. Denny Burk October 15, 2007 at 10:36 pm #

    Jesica,

    Link away!

    Denny

  18. Jesica October 15, 2007 at 10:44 pm #

    Thanks! If I can figure out how to, I will. :)

  19. Matthew October 15, 2007 at 11:00 pm #

    Denny,

    I remember reading the Time article around a year ago: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1532999,00.html

    It was interesting to see Time asking, “What shall it profit a man…” They termed his teaching, “Prosperity Lite.” Rick Warren did not beat around the bush, either. “There is a word for that: Baloney!” I am guessing that Osteen is following sincerely in the footsteps of preachers before him, including his dad (whom I had not heard of before the Time article). But it is a shame. In both this life and the next, he is missing the point of the cross. And without that, what is the point?

  20. jeremy z October 15, 2007 at 11:04 pm #

    Well looks like I struck a chord here.
    I have a few things.
    Blank Slate and Rob I did not appreciate your attack. This is a blog not a boxing ring. If you want to play dirty, we can play dirty. I hold an MDIV and have studied theology extensively for the past 5 years of my life. Yes I may not have it all figure out but I understand the major and minor frameworks in theology. The fact I cannot even contact Blank Slate indicates to me a cowardly approach of confrontation. If you are going to post comments that directly attack on me, I at least expect one to expose who they are.

    I was simply playing devil’s advocate. Simply because these people are not going to your Southern Baptist church does not make them false believers. They are all going to a Church that affirms Jesus-bottom line. Yes they preach the prosperity gospel.

    My goal when I blog on here is to challenge the Southern perspective of Christianity. I want others to think out of the box of their Southern Baptist–reform theology up bringing. If you notice on Denny’s blog is all of the same perspective. Everyone is basically worshiping whatever Denny blogs about.

    Bryan L thanks for understanding my intent.

    Yes I think it is important to define the gospel because how you define the gospel will illuminate your theological convictions. In the NIV gospel is used 96 times. That means we have to go to each of those 96 verses and do extensive exegesis in order to get to the heart of what that passage is saying about the gospel. Then, we can begin to formulate what the gospel means and especially what the gospel means in light of the context in which we are ministering to. Jesus says numerous things about the gospel and Paul says numerous of things about the gospel. And the bummer is, each of these 96 verses do not say the same thing.

    Let me challenge you with this verse?
    Can the gospel include these exact words of Jesus:
    NAU John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

    To me the gospel, in this verse, represents one obtaining a live that is full of abundance. In a sense, this is Joel’s message. If we worship Jesus, then we get reward for it. You can define the reward??

    My point is there can be different interpretation of the text, then what you were taught in Sunday School.

    Blank Slate I look forward to hearing from you. Here is my email: jztothejc@yahoo.com

  21. jeremy z October 15, 2007 at 11:21 pm #

    also, Christ’s substitutionary atonement is one of many perspectives of the atonement.
    How about the atonement theories of: Christus Victor? What about Healing? What about the Kaleidoscopic view?

    Again my point there is not just one interpretation/version/definition of how you would describe the atonement.

    If one’s atonement perspective is Christus Victor and not penal substitution, then one is not going to hell.

  22. Kevin Jones October 16, 2007 at 7:53 am #

    Jeremy,

    So, you are saying that if someone’s perspective is possibly wrong then God will see that and still let them into heaven even if they never repented of their sins and put their faith totally in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour?

  23. Todd Pruitt October 16, 2007 at 9:13 am #

    Jeremy z,

    I don’t hear anyone saying that if someone does not attend a Southern Baptist Church they are “false believers.” That is a straw man. It sounds like someone has struck a chord with you.

    Also, the Bible does not offer differing theories concerning the atonement. It is made quite clear that God put forth his son as a propitiation. The heat of the Gospel is penal substitution. Christus victor and the many other formulations for the atonement came from the mind of men who largely found penal substitution distasteful (cosmic child abuse). With the help of MacLaren, Bell, and Pagitt those theories are rising again in prominence in certain circles.

    I would be curious about what you think is an unacceptable departure from the biblical Gospel. I am wondering what you think is “Jesus-bottom line”.

  24. jeremy z October 16, 2007 at 9:49 am #

    Kevin Jones, No I am not saying what you asked me. Jesus is the only way and we accepted him and reject are old ways and continue to seek Him.

    Now, my question to you is what do we do with this text?
    Luke 23:39-43 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” {42 Some manuscripts come with your kingly power} 43 Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

    It is pretty clear this criminal who has been living in sin is whole life says remember me Jesus and Jesus tells him today you will be with me in paradise. That is a pretty quick salvation experience with no I am sorries Lord.

    Todd let me be clear. Are you suggesting that penal Sub is the only way? If you are not subscribing to the penal sub theory then, one is a false teacher? Is that what you are saying?
    I subscribe to the Christus Victor model. Here is why?
    NIV 1 John 3:8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

  25. Todd Pruitt October 16, 2007 at 10:14 am #

    Jeremy,

    Certainly, you are not saying that 1 John 3:8 denies or contradicts penal substitution. Are you?

    I am not saying that penal substitution was the only thing accomplished on the cross. However, Romans three is quite clear that Jesus died on the cross to vindicate the righteousness of God who patiently bore with the sins of His people until the time that He put His Son forward as a propitiation for sin. The most systematic explanation of the Gospel in Scripture holds penal substitution as the central accomplishment of the cross. Other texts help illuminate some of the other blessings of Christ’s work on the cross. The doctrine of the cross is truly thick. But the many blessings of the cross flow from Christ’s work as our substitute. For instance, penal substitution is a reversal and destruction of the devils’ work (1 John 3:8).

    Again, let me state: Penal substitution is not the ONLY thing accomplished on the cross. However, to deny penal substitution is to deny the very clear teaching of Scripture and the very heart of the Gospel. It is not as if the Bible is unclear on this. And I would hope you are not suggesting that all interpretations of Christ’s cross work are equally valid. God has not left us without a clear witness.

    Concerning your comments on Luke 23: Are you seriously suggesting that the thief on the cross did not repent? Is it not clear from the text that he took complete responsibility for his sin and then turned to Jesus in faith? Is this not repentance?

  26. Barry October 16, 2007 at 10:30 am #

    Nielsen (# 14)
    Where does the CBS piece say anything about a “machine -pulley 300 pound bench” ? It just says he benches 300. Give him props if he can actually lift 300!

    :)
    Barry

  27. jeremy z October 16, 2007 at 11:34 am #

    Todd we have can deal with what the text presents. In that text there is nothing about repent. The prisoner wants to be with Jesus. The prisoner acknowledges who Jesus is and what He has done and will do. But, the text does not indicate a repenting from this prisoner only a acceptance from Jesus.

    I am not saying 1 Jn 3.8 is not contradicting the penal sub. I am simply saying 1 Jn 3.8 provides more of a holistic approach to how we view the atonement. Jesus was not only a settlement, but a destroyer.

    Does anyone else see the prisoner “repenting” in Luke 23?

  28. Kevin Jones October 16, 2007 at 12:30 pm #

    Jeremy Z,

    I think it the Bible is very clear that we can not see or know the heart of man…but God can. Do you think it is too much of a stretch to see the implication of repentance in Luke 23?

    Heresy is born with logic such as what you are using. Just because the thief’s heart intentions are not explicitly spelled out for us in black and white does not mean that he did not repent. When we see Jesus for who He truly is our heart can do nothing but be humbled and repent of our sins…but our heart’s eyes must SEE Jesus for who He is before TRUE repentance happens…for only then do we see us for who we truly are…wretches dead in sin that deserve hell.

    The prosperity “gospel” does nothing but try to get us to see that we are NOT wretches but God is Love and wants what is best for all of us. True…God does want what is BEST for all of us (repentance and faith toward Him) but we MUST see what we are and repent. Anyone who has not truly repented IS NOT truly saved. Thus, the prosperity gospel’s lack of repentance in its’ message makes it only a HALF-truth and the DEADLIEST of ALL heresies.

  29. Ken October 16, 2007 at 12:53 pm #

    The words of the thief recorded in Luke 23:40-42 very clearly depict a repentant heart.

  30. jeremy z October 16, 2007 at 3:05 pm #

    One can depict a repentant heart when the thief asks Jesus to remember him?

    My question is how do we know and judge if one is repented? And can we lose salvation?
    For example, lets look at our students of the USA. 81% of HS students say they are Christian, which means have said the prayer every summer at summer camp, but they are still living crazy lifestyle on Friday and Saturday, but come to church on Sunday with their happy, but hungover face praising Jesus.

    My question to is what does repenting look like? What is the checklist so one can know if one has repented or not?

    If Joel Osteen wanted to repent today, what would he need to do in order for you guys to accept him as a valid follower and teacher of Christ?
    Also, what if you guys are false teachers? See whether you like it or not but everyone interprets Scripture. Everyone brings their theology and biases to scripture. This does not under-mind Scripture but illuminates to the highest authority of Scripture because we have this amazing document that can minister to anyone and everyone.
    If you notice in a lot of your guys/gals rhetoric you use the language of Scripture is sooo clear. If Scripture is sooo clear why do we have over 400 denominations? Every denomination has the best intention in attempting to unpack the Scriptures to the best of their ability in light of their particular culture and context.

  31. Kevin Jones October 16, 2007 at 3:25 pm #

    Jeremy Z,

    It is not for us to know for sure if someone has truly repented. However, the bible does say “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Mt. 7:15-20.

    Fruit of biblical preaching is lost souls being saved. How can lost souls be saved when they are not told HOW to be saved? By his own admission Joel Osteen does not preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Therefore, his fruit is evil.

  32. Rich/Luthsem October 16, 2007 at 3:33 pm #

    Jeremy,

    A person can be sincerely wrong or deceived,etc. We don’t know Joel’s heart but most orthodox Christian bodies and even mainline somewhat liberal bodies would say that Osteen is not preaching the gospel that is what Christ has done for us on the cross for our sins and he is denying the reality of suffering not only for Christians but for everyone. Of course, Joel is not suffering in his big mansions, cars, etc.
    The point is that a person who call himself a pastor should not be a motivational speaker but one who proclaims the gospel of Christ not the gospel of nice. Yes one who interprets scripture not preach feel good messages.

  33. Ken October 16, 2007 at 3:35 pm #

    Jeremy: These are the words of the second criminal (using the language of the ESV)–“‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong…Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.'”

    He rebuked the first criminal for verbally abusing Jesus and admitted that he was guilty of the crime for which he was being punished, even the justice of the punishment meted out. Instead of joining in abusing Jesus, he acknowledged Jesus’s innocence and asked to be remembered by him (here the words of Jesus as recorded in Luke 13:27 and their parallel in Matthew 7:23 are significant–the criminal does not want to be among those not known by Jesus) when Jesus came into his kingdom.

    You raise many important questions in the rest of this last post. Proper answers would likely take up a lot more space and time than can be alloted here. But short replies might look like these:

    1. By their fruits you shall know them. A truly repentant heart and regeneration in Christ will show themselves in changed lives. Patience is often required to see it, but there will be change.

    2. If Mr. Osteen stood up and began preaching from the Bible about the reality of sin, the helplessness of man to deal with sin, and Christ crucified and resurrected as God’s provision for that sin, then I would welcome him as a teacher of the true gospel of God.

    3. Regarding the clarity of Scripture, the confessional document to which my denomination subscribes says, “All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.” In other words, the main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things. The reason there are multiplied denominations is, frankly, sin and a tendency to major in the minors. Most Protestant divisions are over questions of the form of church government and the meaning/application of the sacraments. There is actually very little difference regarding the major points of the gospel among denominations that hold to an orthodox understanding of the Scriptures and historical Christian teaching.

    Think about what you are saying about the clarity of the Scriptures. Do you really imagine that God is an incompetent communicator who can’t get his point across? If not, then why do people differ over interpretations? Is it because the teachings are not clear (with the use of due diligence, as the confession encourages) or because there are problems with the interpreters?

  34. Todd Pruitt October 16, 2007 at 4:21 pm #

    Proverbs 1:5; 9:8; 15:2; 15:31; 17:28

  35. Jim Vellenga October 16, 2007 at 4:47 pm #

    Jeremy, you certainly have provided much thought for discussion. However, when you mention Matthew 7:15-20 several things concern me. The text taken from the ESV, simply because that was handy, reads, “”Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

    Notice first of all the context, Jesus is giving a warning against false prophets or teachers. The first part of his warning points out that they will not be easily recognizable. They will look sincere and authentic. I cannot think of one major heretic in the history of the church that did not think they were correct. Many of them were even very likable, appealing people all of who claimed they were Christians. Yet, what they taught was not correct, it was a destructive heresy, and in teaching it they denied the very one who they claim bought them.

    Joel Osteen does come across as a very nice, personable. However, that does not say anything about how true what he preaches is.

    The next thing Jesus points out is that although these false prophets may look like sheep, they will be known by their fruits. In doing this he uses several illustrations to carry home his point that they way to discern true prophets or teachers from false is their fruit.

    The question this raises is, what are the fruits in mind here. Too often that question is not asked. Instead we simply assume that what Jesus is talking about is how they live. That their lifestyle will show whether they are true or false teachers. If that is what Jesus is primarily looking to, we have to realize something, it may take years or even decades to be able to say one way or another with many people who are false teachers. Outside they look very good. May prominent false teacher throughout the history of the church have lived outwardly exemplary lives. Yes, in some cases today and in the past false teachers have shown the lie of their professed faith in Christ through lifestyles that are clearly opposed to Christ, but more often than not this took quite a bit of time to show itself. During that time, many people were led astray.

    However, I think if one considers for a while about what the fruit of a teacher is, it starts to become clear that the primary fruit of a teacher is their teaching. Thus, a false teacher will be known by their teaching. That means all teaching must be tested by the Scriptures as to its faithfulness to that revealed word of God. Based on that, I would say that Joel Osteen’s gospel is not the gospel at all. It neglects what Paul said was of first importance (1 Cor. 15:1-10) and in its place tells people that they are accepted by God by doing their best. That is a false gospel and the Bible is clear on the result of that for those who preach another gospel and do not repent of it (Gal 1:8-9).

    I do not write this with any pleasure or superiority. It is a terrible thing to consider the end for those who preach another gospel. The glorious part of all this is that Joel can still repent. He can still turn to the one who died for our sins, the one who stood as a propitiation so that God could be both just and the justifier of those who have faith in Jesus Christ. That is what changed everything for me, and I pray it will change everything for Joel Osteen as well.

    Yes, I agree there are many Christians who claim to be believers but deny it in how they live, but we are not speaking about Christians in general, we are speaking about a person who claims to be a Christian teacher. He, I and all who are teachers will be called to account for what we have taught. If it is not the one and only gospel revealed in the Scriptures, then all that awaits is the anathema of God. (I write this with tears in my eyes.)

    May God grant grace that we more and more will know and proclaim the gospel in word and deed.

  36. Yvette October 16, 2007 at 4:50 pm #

    Before I get viciously attacked, let me say I am no fan of Joel Osteen’s teachings. I prefer more substance.

    This is directly form Osteen’s web site:

    WE BELIEVE…Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood for our sins. We believe that salvation is found by placing our faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross. We believe Jesus rose from the dead and is coming again.

  37. Yvette October 16, 2007 at 4:51 pm #

    sorry…that’s FROM his web site…not form.

  38. Jim Vellenga October 16, 2007 at 5:14 pm #

    Yvette, I hope my earlier comment did not seem like a viscious attack. It was not meant to be, nor did I feel any animosity while writing it. I was trying to be as level headed as I could while having a heart that grieves over this whole situation.

    I am happy their official statement of faith says what you quoted, but as one who in in a mainline denomination where many teachers outright deny what our statement of faith in our standards teach, I would say that it doesn’t really help the situation. If he really knows that, why does he never say it to people who desperately need to hear it?

    I am a believer, but I know that in me there is remaining sin that constantly pushes me either toward legalism or license. At the same time I know the grace of God in Jesus Christ that had him die for my sins, and that knowledge and the reminders of that truth are what drive me away from those tendencies to legalism and license to the cross. Thus I need all the time to be reminded of my sin and the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

  39. Blank Slate October 16, 2007 at 7:26 pm #

    Greetings Everybody!

    Worked all day (caught no fishes ;^)

    First off, I applogize to Jeremy for the attack. Yah it was an attack and I should have known better so… forgive me Jer (and Brian…:).

    I’m going to stop reading blogs for a while and, well, by the grace of God, go produce some fruit.

    Blessings to all!

    Blank

  40. jeremy z October 16, 2007 at 7:28 pm #

    Kevin and Jim thank you so much for replying to my questions in an informative way.

    I really do appreciate them. They were clear and I could understand the perspective in which you were coming from.

    Although, Joel on his website does affirm the major essentials, however his messages do not resemble the major essentials.
    If Joel is simply unaware and thinks he is preaching the gospel, then I wonder how God is going to judge him? God can only judge us on what we were aware of.
    I liked Jim’s point about no heretic got up one morning and said, “Today I am going to be a heretic.” Today I am not going to preach the gospel. I am going to preach a different message.

    Also we, as teaching pastors, need to consider how we judge. If we are judging Joel to repent, then what things do we need to repent of? It is all about humility! I know my messages are imperfect about the perfect God. I do not know, I just got convicted if we are saying JOEL REPENT, then I was challenged in what ways I need to repent. It is always easier to call out everyone’s else weakness or shortcoming, but it is always A LOT harder to call out our own weakness and shortcomings. Maybe before we say REPENT Joel, we should have already repented ourselves.

    IN HIS GRIP,
    Jeremy

  41. jeremy z October 16, 2007 at 7:37 pm #

    Hey Todd and Blank Slate,
    I may be young, but I have been in the church since 8 years of age. I have been speaking to teenagers all across the USA for the past three years in and out of churches.

    I may be young and immature, but I know the problematic realites that unbelievers, both students and adults are struggling with. And, about 90% of them are deeply wounded by the Church because they have only heard the message loud and clear about REPENT! In this repent message is indirectly layered with guilt. So we have a wounded generation who has only heard of the guilt/repent message of Jesus, and not the grace message of Jesus.

    This is why I am sooooo passionate about how we handle rhetorical tactics when communicating. REPENT is a loaded word and definitely directly and indirectly brings up both negative and positive connotations. I have seen so many wounded “old” church goers and my heart just hurts. We are ministering to a generation who needs to see love illustrated before they become the “beloved”, then we will worry about REPENTING.

    peace out jz

  42. Bryan L October 16, 2007 at 8:04 pm #

    Jim said, “If he really knows that, why does he never say it to people who desperately need to hear it?”

    I find that to be an interesting statement. Who here watches Osteen on a normal basis? I see a lot of criticism being thrown at him for what he does and doesn’t teach but it seems like you would have to watch him quite a bit to really no what he does teach and what he never teaches.

    Concerning the portion of the interview that Denny quoted it seems like he (the interviewer) is criticizing Osteen for not writing a different kind of book. He thinks he should have wrote an evangelism tract and Osteen is saying he’s just writing practical tips for living a better life.
    If he says God wants you to be a joyful giver and he blesses those who are joyful givers does he really need to mention that Christ died for your sins and you can find forgiveness and salvation if you put your faith in him? It’s not that kind of book. It’s a book with practical advice on how to have your best life now.

    Take the book of James. It falls into the wisdom genre like Proverbs or Ecclesiastes. How often do you see James talking about Christ dying for your sins or how to be saved (apart for saying someone is justified by what they do and not faith alone)? How many times do you even see him mention Jesus? How many times do you see him talking about any of the things that we find are central to the Gospel? And yet this was the only letter of James we have and all we can really go on as to what he believed. Would you think he doesn’t believe the true gospel or that he’s a heretic because he doesn’t say Jesus every chance he gets? If you were to hear someone like Osteen preach the book of James word for word and you had never read James before what would you think of him? Would you think he’s just preaching pop-psychology or a watered down gospel or even a works based gospel (he doesn’t even say Gospel)?

    Truthfully I’ve never read Osteen’s book and I’ve heard him maybe once or twice. That being the case I don’t think I’m in anyway qualified to speak as an expert on what he does or doesn’t teach or believe (although the quote from Yvette was informative). And I have a feeling many others here would fall into that same boat.

    Just some thoughts.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  43. Carlito October 16, 2007 at 8:36 pm #

    jz –

    This thread is quite similar to the Brad Pitt post we were debating a while back!

    A few points I’d like to make:

    The very first words of Jesus’ public ministry in 2 of the gospels are as follows (all verses NASB):

    Matt 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

    Mark 1:14-15 Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the GOSPEL OF GOD and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

    Furthermore, John the Baptist’s FIRST words of his forerunning ministry were as follows (in 3 of the gospels):

    Matt 3:2 – Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

    Mark 1:4 – John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

    Luke 3:3 – And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

    In addition, the word “repent” is a recurring theme in the messages given by the Apostles throughout the book of Acts (appearing 10 times).

    In Luke, Jesus’ very first words have a different take..

    Luke 4: 17-19: And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
    THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”

    Also, in the gospel of John, Jesus begins His public ministry by performing a miracle in Cana.

    Clearly Christus Victor is part of redemptive history culminating in the person, death and resurrection of Jesus. However, the point is that repentance is a HUGE part of the gospel and redemption and reconciliation. The full spectrum of the gospel must be preached, otherwise it quickly becomes distorted by human “wisdom”. Repentance simply cannot be ignored.

    One last point – I remember a Larry King Live interview with Osteen a little while back, and Larry asked Joel if he believes that Jesus is indeed the ONLY way to God, the truth and the life. Unfortunately, Joel waffled and wouldn’t commit to that. He did not affirm that Jesus is who He clearly claimed to be throughout His ministry.

    Heartbreakingly, I was reminded of these words:

    Matt. 10: 32-34 – Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

    That is heavy, friends. I pray that I would have the guts to speak the name of Jesus Christ to any and all that cross my path. I repent of my neglect and fear of man in proclaiming the good news of Jesus as Lord and Savior! I also pray that Joel would be convicted to see that he does a severe disservice to the Kingdom when he routinely fails to exalt the blessed name of our Lord Jesus Christ above all else.

  44. Kevin Jones October 16, 2007 at 9:02 pm #

    Carlito,

    AMEN!

  45. Yvette October 16, 2007 at 9:19 pm #

    Jim Vellenga,

    Your comments seem quite civil, but there seems to be a tone of hostility during this conversation as a whole. I virtually quit reading another blog for this same reason. I was starting to like it here because there was such little attack until now.

    I’m not really lined up with JeremyZ on all of his views, but he really didn’t deserve some of the horrific statements directed toward him.

    I honestly can’t comment to what Joel Osteen preaches and doesn’t preach because I don’t listen to him much. Sometimes I see a blurb on TV, but I’m not sure I’ve ever watched an entire sermon.

    This leads back to BryanL’s statement regarding knowing enough about someone’s teachings to truly be able to comment. He makes an excellent point when he states:

    “Truthfully I’ve never read Osteen’s book and I’ve heard him maybe once or twice. That being the case I don’t think I’m in anyway qualified to speak as an expert on what he does or doesn’t teach or believe (although the quote from Yvette was informative). And I have a feeling many others here would fall into that same boat.”

    Again, your comments seemed quite civil.

  46. mlm October 16, 2007 at 9:21 pm #

    How many people who’ve commented here about Joel Osteen have read his web site in full (props to Yvette) and attended his church in order to listen to a FULL message, rather than one edited for TV, much less one that was edited for a quick blurb on 60 Minutes?

    Do your research, people. Then if you still want to curse preachers to hell for being “false prophets,” that’s between you and God. In the meantime, you all sound like a bunch of player haters. I’m just sayin…

  47. Yvette October 16, 2007 at 9:25 pm #

    Carlito,

    FYI, after Osteen’s interview with Larry King he posted an apology on the church’s web site stating Christ as the way for salvation.

    It is no longer on their web site, but here is Albert Mohler’s comments on it.

    http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=137

    Note Albert’s thoughts:

    “When Mr. Osteen writes, ‘I hope that you accept my deepest apology and see it in your heart to extend to me grace and forgiveness,’ the only proper response is to extend the very forgiveness for which he asks — and with equal humility.”

  48. mlm October 16, 2007 at 9:33 pm #

    After re-reading some of these comments, I think a lot of us here would criticize JESUS and his messages had we lived back in the day…”All he does is tell stories!” “What was all that about seed and the sower?!” “I’ve never heard him quote the Law and the Prophets like the Pharisees do! It’s just story after story after story!”

  49. Yvette October 16, 2007 at 9:48 pm #

    mlm…lol…that rocked. Consider yourself hugged.

  50. Kevin Jones October 16, 2007 at 10:22 pm #

    mlm,

    It’s quite funny that the very thing you are trying to defend him about is the very thing that we see no evidence of. If there is evidence that he preaches (not just a statement of faith) Christ crucified, buried, and risen again for our justification and that we need to repent and believe then please provide that evidence.

    He was plainly asked why he does not preach about Jesus. Did he say that he does and you just don’t see it because it is edited out?

    Please provide the evidence and I will gladly repent of this attack on a perceived flase prophet.

    However, does the Bible even teach we are to have our best life NOW or LATER in heaven??? If I was not going to heaven I sure would want to have it now!

  51. Ken October 17, 2007 at 7:15 am #

    mlm: Actually, that’s not the reaction the crowds had back then. The gospels say the people were “amazed” by Jesus’s teaching. He spoke with an authority they’d never heard before from the scribes and teachers of the Law.

    On one point, however, you may have touched on something. Your reference to the parable of the sower–it’s one of the few parables for which Jesus provided his disciples (and us) an interpretation. There is no evidence this interpretation was given to others. When asked why he spoke in parables, he said it was intentional, that it was done not to enlighten but to underscore the judgment under which many of his hearers stayed. To them it was not given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13:11). A hard saying, to be sure, but that’s the biblical portrayal of our Lord.

  52. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 7:51 am #

    The word “repent” or “repentance” is used at least 40 times (depending on translation) in the NEW TESTAMENT alone.

    I think repentance IS crucial to the preaching of the gospel. How Can ANYBODY disagree with a word that is repeated SO MANY times in the Bible?

  53. Bryan L October 17, 2007 at 9:28 am #

    Kevin,
    you said, “He was plainly asked why he does not preach about Jesus. Did he say that he does and you just don’t see it because it is edited out?”
    What are you talking about? Can you provide links to this?

    I’m starting to wonder what some here are arguing about and what exactly their criticism of Osteen is.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  54. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 9:54 am #

    It was on 60 minutes this past Sunday. I do not remember his exact answer to the question but he did NOT try to defend himself by saying that he DOES preach on Jesus.

  55. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 10:11 am #

    “To become a better you, you must be positive towards yourself, develop better relationships, embrace the place where you are. Not one mention of God in that. Not one mention of Jesus Christ in that,” Pitts remarks.

    “That’s just my message. There is scripture in there that backs it all up. But I feel like, Byron, I’m called to help people…how do we walk out the Christian life? How do we live it? And these are principles that can help you. I mean, there’s a lot better people qualified to say, ‘Here’s a book that going to explain the scriptures to you.’ I don’t think that’s my gifting,” Osteen says.

  56. Yvette October 17, 2007 at 10:15 am #

    Here is the link to the interview Kevin referenced:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/60minutes/main3415.shtml

  57. Bryan L October 17, 2007 at 10:22 am #

    Actually Kevin that’s not quite what he said, that he does not preach Jesus.
    The interviewer asks why in his new book about becoming a better you he does not mention God or Jesus in the principals. He responded by saying he uses scripture in his book to back up his advice but that the book is not an evangelism book telling people how to get right with God (assuming that’s what he meant by thats not my message) it’s a book abut how to walk out and live the Christian life and in his opinion he gives principles that he believes are scripturally based.

    That was what my question from earlier had to do with. If he gives advice to Christians about being a giving person or help on how to forgive does he constantly need to go into a message about how Jesus died for your sins and how you can be saved. Truthfully I would get annoyed at a book like that since I know all that already. If your Christians friend asks you to for help in dealing with their difficult boss or co-worker do you need to go into a big discourse on the atonement and what it accomplishes? Give me the advice and tips on how to live better and get through my issue. But that’s just me.

    Either way the question had nothing to do with whether he preached about Jesus from the pulpit.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  58. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 10:47 am #

    Bryan L,

    I appreciate that. But the fact remains (at least there is no evidence to the contrary) that he does NOT preach Jesus Christ crucified, risen again and the need for sinners to repent and believe.

    If you can provide that evidence then I will repent of accusing him as a false prophet. All I can see is that Joel says it is not “his gifting”. If it is not his gifting then he is NOT a preacher of the gospel and he should drop the “fact” that he is a pastor and start a talk show (like Oprah or Dr. Phil) instead. IT IS NOT LOVE to tell people how to live a better life all the while NOT telling them the truth about their sin and letting A LOT of them continue on in their sin and heading straight toward hell.

    I appreciate that you know you are saved Bryan. But how many of his 47,000 attendees each week are NOT saved and are duped by this “bettet life now” heresy? Is that love? Letting them be duped while not telling them the truth?

  59. Bryan L October 17, 2007 at 11:19 am #

    Kevin,

    You said,
    “But the fact remains (at least there is no evidence to the contrary) that he does NOT preach Jesus Christ crucified, risen again and the need for sinners to repent and believe. If you can provide that evidence then I will repent of accusing him as a false prophet.”

    Kevin I don’t know what he preaches. I don’t watch him. Do you? Have you attended his church to see what a full service consists of (MLM mentioned this). You must since you speak so surely about what he doesn’t preach and you so easily call him a false prophet. Otherwise you are making a big argument based on your lack of knowledge and that is somewhat dangerous and damaging.

    Look I’m not saying that Osteen does preach those things. Again I don’t know. For all I know he could be a false prophet. Either way I haven’t seen the evidence that leads me to believe he’s any different than your average TV preacher. But my point is that if we are going to come on here and make all these negative claims about him then I hope some here have at least done their homework instead of just assuming based on hearsay or by misinterpreting an interview question.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  60. Bryan L October 17, 2007 at 11:23 am #

    BTW for those who didn’t check out the Osteen’s statement of faith here it is. They really sound like false prophets and heretics to me:

    WE BELIEVE…the entire Bible is inspired by God, without error and the authority on which we base our faith, conduct and doctrine.

    WE BELIEVE…in one God who exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to this earth as Savior of the world.

    WE BELIEVE…Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood for our sins. We believe that salvation is found by placing our faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross. We believe Jesus rose from the dead and is coming again.

    WE BELIEVE…water baptism is a symbol of the cleansing power of the blood of Christ and a testimony to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    WE BELIEVE…in the regular taking of Communion as an act of remembering what the Lord Jesus did for us on the cross.

    WE BELIEVE…every believer should be in a growing relationship with Jesus by obeying God’s Word, yielding to the Holy Spirit and by being conformed to the image of Christ.

    WE BELIEVE…as children of God, we are overcomers and more than conquerors and God intends for each of us to experience the abundant life He has in store for us.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  61. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 11:41 am #

    Bryan,

    All I know is that he has had AMPLE of opportunities on TV to preach the true gospel and never has to my knowledge. And there are thousands of people that say the same.

    Why wouldn’t a GOSPEL preacher take the opportunity on NATIONAL TV to tell the TRUTH? Is he ashamed of it? Or does he not KNOW the truth?

    I admit that I have not always been as bold as I should about witnessing. BUT, if I was to be a speaker in front of thousands every week and had an opportunity to defend my gospel message on national TV then I would somehow proclaim that Jesus is Lord and Saviour and all people need to repent of their sins and believe.

    Yes, I have watched him…I have never seen him explain the true gospel. He has been asked about it and says that they do not air the whole service. If 7 MILLION are watching the service by TV why would they leave out the MOST IMPORTANT PART of it? Unless they do not believe it is important…or, most likely, he does not preach the true gospel.

    Am I willing to go sit in one of his services? NO. For if I do, people would say “well, did you go to the next service too? maybe he preached it then?”. You know, somehow Charles Spurgeon ALWAYS preached the gospel in his sermons. Why couldn’t Joel Osteen? That is what the Bible is all about, isn’t it?

  62. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 11:45 am #

    Bryan,

    Anybody can have a printed statment of faith like that. The proof is in the preaching and his books.

  63. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 11:56 am #

    Check out this book review:

    http://www.challies.com/archives/book-reviews/become-a-better-you-by-joel-osteen.php

  64. j razz October 17, 2007 at 11:57 am #

    Jeremy,

    You said above that teenagers are wounded b/c of a guilt ridden Repent gospel and they need to hear the Grace gospel. I would further propose that they need to hear both as one part does not equal the whole. You do not correct the issue by overcompensating, but by steadying. The gospel cannot be rightly understood without understanding who we are (our sin nature) in light of who God is (His holy nature). We must have both present for the gospel to even exist. Anything less is an imposter and in the words of John Owen, “not the gospel at all”.

    j razz

  65. Bryan L October 17, 2007 at 12:38 pm #

    “All I know is that he has had AMPLE of opportunities on TV to preach the true gospel and never has to my knowledge. And there are thousands of people that say the same.”

    Are all of those thousands also saying the same based on hearsay?

    You said “if I was to be a speaker in front of thousands every week and had an opportunity to defend my gospel message on national TV then I would somehow proclaim that Jesus is Lord and Saviour and all people need to repent of their sins and believe.”

    I just watched a broadcast on the Lakewood site just for you Kevin.

    At the end he gives an invitation to “make Jesus the Lord of your life.”

    And then he offers them to pray this prayer “Lord Jesus I repent of my sins. Come into my heart. I make you my Lord and Savior”

    And then he says he believes that if they prayed with him they are born again and then tells them to get involved in a Bible based church.

    So there it is. He said exactly what you would say. What next Kevin?

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  66. mlm October 17, 2007 at 12:45 pm #

    BryanL,

    Pastor Osteen gives that invitation at the end of every broadcast. (Do your research, people!)

    How many commenters are sitting there as Kevin is, saying, “If *I* was a speaker in front of thousands…millions…” and yet they’re not. Not Kevin. Not Denny. Not a one of us. Player haters…

  67. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 12:50 pm #

    Bryan,

    Watch that video again “pretending” that you know nothing about Jesus, the cross, his death, burial, and resurrection.

    You have been given a sermon on how to be “better” then all of a sudden he says what you have quoted above.

    Would you know what he was talking about? Did he explain that Jesus died on the cross and why? Did he quote scripture?

    People are not born again by a “prayer” the are born again by grace, through faith and this faith must have been brought about by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). The way he approaches his “gospel” is a whole lot like walking up to someone on the street without showing scripture and saying “just repeat after me…” “There, you are born again, now go find a Bible believing church.”

    This type of “easy-believism” is exactly what is filling up our churches with “tares”. People that “think” they are saved because they prayed a prayer. Without the preaching of the gospel there can not be true salvation (Romans 10) and Joel Osteen does NOT preach the gospel. Remember, the deadliest of heresies includes a grain of truth but only enough to deceive millions.

  68. Bryan L October 17, 2007 at 1:10 pm #

    Kevin,
    So now you’re complaining that although he says everything you would if you were given the chance it’s still not enough. He needs to say a whole lot more now?

    How is he preaching easy believism if the whole message is about being a better Christian (sanctification?) Is he preaching that you just sit around and ride your free pass to heaven. No. Sermon after sermon is about helping Christians be better Christians and live a better Christian life.

    I happened to see the sermon on offense where he talked about not letting offense poison you. I think that is an important thing to learn as a Christian as it seems to be something that detroys many Christian walks, causes people to leave churches and even splits churches. In watching the sermon he even gives examples of what it looks like to practice the message. He talked about being at a grocery store and everyone was getting pissed at this checkers attitude, walking out all mad. Instead of getting angry at her and allowing her attitude to “poison” him he asks her how her day is and she tells him it’s going terrible and how her kid (I think) is in the hospital and how they have no insurance… So he tells her he is a minister and offers to pray with her and she accepts.
    That is something practical that people can apply to their life as Christians.

    Kevin you keep criticizing him for not satisfying your list of criteria and I don’t think you are really taking the time to see what he is doing and praising God for it. And the fact that you still maintain he is a false prophet and heretic makes me wonder who could pass for a genuine Christian in your book.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  69. mlm October 17, 2007 at 1:14 pm #

    Bryan L,

    You might want to save your breath, or your fingers as is the case for us typers! :o)

  70. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 1:24 pm #

    Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

    If the Word is not preached their is no true faith…only superficial belief/repentance.

    Joel Osteen claims the following:

    “That’s just my message. There is scripture in there that backs it all up. But I feel like, Byron, I’m called to help people…how do we walk out the Christian life? How do we live it? And these are principles that can help you. I mean, there’s a lot better people qualified to say, ‘Here’s a book that going to explain the scriptures to you.’ I don’t think that’s my gifting.”

    If he feels he is not called to explain the scriptures how can he know that he is rightly dividing the word of truth? He admittedly does not explain the scriptures. What is true gospel preaching but EXPLAINING THE SCRIPTURES?

  71. Carlito October 17, 2007 at 1:31 pm #

    Yvette – thanks for the clarification on that Larry King interview.. It’s much appreciated, and I’m glad to hear that.

    mlm – “player haters”? C’mon, that kind of sarcasm and rhetoric is what we’re trying to avoid – per Bryan L’s request above directed @ Blank Slate. I believe I’ve heard you (and others on your side of the debates) bash John Piper because of His hard-line stance on theological issues that you find offensive (i.e. sovereignty, etc.). I might call that player hating as well. Let’s use this forum for debate and not name-calling. I’m directing that to myself as well :)

    Let me also say that I personally have not called Joel Osteen a heretic, and I believe he does indeed have good intentions.

    Regarding the statement of faith and the little canned statement at the end of each sermon, a cheesy example: Let’s say I’m teaching a class on shoemaking, and I spend nearly all the class time talking about clothes that go well with certain styles of shoes. At the end of each class, I take 2 minutes to run down a list of methods and instructions for shoemaking. Let’s also say I have a piece of paper posted on the door briefly describing various shoemaking techniques.

    If you attended the class, would you feel like I had done an adequate job communicating the important aspects of shoemaking and equipping you with the necessary knowledge and expertise to be able to make shoes? Would you feel qualified and full of faith in your shoemaking ventures?

    My point is that when the gospel of Jesus Christ is not routinely presented in its entirety and consistent expository preaching is missing, there is need for serious concern. To me, a statement of faith and a nice little prayer at the end are simply ornamental. It seems like those ancillary things are merely caveats to make sure people are aware that it’s a church and not just a self-help seminar.

    And finally, let’s ask ourselves this question: If the Apostle Paul, the father of the early churches, were sitting in the audience at a typical sermon by Joel Osteen – what do you think he would say afterwards? Do you think he would be encouraged and pleased with what he heard? Do you think he would affirm that Jesus Christ is exalted above all else in Osteen’s ministry?

    1 Cor. 2:2-5 “For I determined to know NOTHING among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”

  72. mlm October 17, 2007 at 2:13 pm #

    Carlito,

    First, I wasn’t being sarcastic when I used the term “player hater.” I feel that it applies, considering that it’s “a term used to criticize people who are jealous or who don’t respect successful people.”

    And since you brought up Piper, let me say that it’s true that I’ve argued against some of Piper’s theology. But I’ve never (NEVER) called him a false teacher nor condemned him and his followers to hell. Never. The difference, to me, is while I argued against a teaching, many on this Osteen thread are arguing against a man, which is part and parcel of player-hating.

    My question remains: have you attended his church services? I’ve been in “behind-the-scenes” ministry long enough to know that what gets broadcast on national TV is not the full story of what takes place in the chruch service. For example, from the TV shows and the 60 Minutes story, we could assume that Osteen never collects an offering. It was never shown…not on TV…and not on the quickie blurbs in the newsstory. Yet, we know he must since that sports arena renovation is nearly paid for (a fact that was briefly mentioned in passing). Should we assail Osteen for not airing his offeratory? (However, I suppose many in this blogcircle would applaud this ommission.)

    But do you get my point? The TV broadcast is not the entire service. It airs what would most broadly appeal to the masses. Then, lest anyone get snippy, Osteen closes with a reminder of Jesus and an invitation to accept Him as Savior…followed by an admonition to visit a Bible-based church. Woe to anyone who accepts Jesus on Osteen’s show and then shows up in a church run by the people on this blog. They’d feel suckered by the ol’ bait and switch for sure. (“Wait! I thought Jesus wanted me to live my best life now…not some second-rate version like I used to live when I was addicted to drugs and beating my wife. Now you tell me I’m NOT supposed to live my best life now, but still be under oppression and condemnation and dreaming of the hereafter, , failing at a presentday successful Christian life because I’m overcome with dead works???? Would that I lived in Houston!”)

    If you can read between the lines, I’ve just given my answer regarding your “shoe example.” A 30-minute broadcast on shoe-making does not a shoemaker make. Nor would would a single indepth class suffice. It would require many classes over a substantial period of time. (It took Jesus more than three years of *daily* instruction and interaction before He was ready to leave his “disciples.”) So I don’t think you can judge Osteen on a broadcast, or the sum of his broadcasts (given the purpose of that medium and the audience). Go to his church. Meet with him. Do your research.

    To me, one difference between this and Piper (since you brought him up) is that I’m offended (if you call it that) by something that Piper overtly preaches. You and others here seem to be offended by something that Osteen leaves out. And that’s why I’ve said repeatedly to do your research. As it is, none so far on this thread have done enough study to KNOW what Osteen leaves out.

    And lastly, what would the Apostle Paul think? I think he’d be proud of a young man who is considered “foolish” in the eyes of the world (a shy, unschooled man who preferred to be behind the scenes) who answered God’s call to finish the work his father began. He’d be proud of a man who’s willing to take beatings from his fellow Christians in order to tell the lost about Jesus. A man who loves his wife and family and refuses to let the hostile accusations of the world and “church people” stop the good he’s doing for God’s kingdom.

    Be fair, Carlito, it’s not a self-help seminar when the preacher says it’s by Christ’s help that we live this life. Osteen’s not Oprah or Dr. Phil and when asked the difference between his message and theirs, he named Christ.

    Remember that quote Denny cited from Dr. York? About small men with lots of time criticizing large men with little time??? Hmmm…

  73. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 2:27 pm #

    mlm,

    I am by no means jealous of Joel Osteen. If I was a pastor I would not want to pastor that big of a church.

    You say “You and others here seem to be offended by something that Osteen leaves out. And that’s why I’ve said repeatedly to do your research. As it is, none so far on this thread have done enough study to KNOW what Osteen leaves out.”

    The reason we believe this is because that is what Joel Osteen admits himself. He admits that he does not explain the scriptures and that is not “his gifting”. Why would we need to research something he already admits?

  74. mlm October 17, 2007 at 2:51 pm #

    Kevin,

    For the love of Pete. Why must I be your critical thinker? I saw the very same interview you did. Already, Bryan L has had to help you understand a questions and answer, since you misintrepretted it. I’m wondering now if we don’t read better than we hear, since I READ the interview in closed caption on a muted TV rather than hearing it.

    When Osteen said what he did, he was talking about his book. The whole interview, in my opinion, was a PR bit to promote his new book which went on sale the next day. I could be wrong, but that’s the way the industry works. Your agent calls the news shows and books interviews to promote your new release. So Osteen was promoting his book, which certainly does not attempt to explain the Scriptures, rather it does just what the author says it does: it helps people live a better Christian life and uses the Bible as the basis for all the teaching therein. Big deal.

    For THIS we condemn the man? Then the Apostle James is in big trouble, as is the Apostle Paul for some of his letters to the Churches, and the Apostle John must have been on dope when he wrote the Book of Revelations…

    Osteen was admitting that he’s not a theologian nor gifted as some to explain the Scriptures (in the way that some do). Good for him. He knows he shouldn’t be a seminary professor or a theologian. He’s a pastor, which last time I checked was someone who shepherded, guided, protected, and cared for the flock. To me, true pastors aren’t those tied to their pulpit, waxing eloquent with lofty exegesis. True pastors are those who lay down their life, get in the trenches, so to speak, and help people live everyday life to the glory of God.

    Jesus was the Great Shepherd. He didn’t go around explaining the Scriptures in minute details. He preached the good news of God’s Kingdom, met people’s needs, healed the sick, set the captive free. Seems to me like Osteen’s right on track.

  75. mlm October 17, 2007 at 2:53 pm #

    PS: Kevin, not to nitpick, but I wasn’t trying to say that you are jealous (only you and God know that), but the other trait of a player-hater is someone who doesn’t respect a successful person. Osteen’s nothing if not successful. :o)

  76. Yvette October 17, 2007 at 3:08 pm #

    Carlito,

    First, I am truly happy the Larry King info was useful to you. Blessings to you.

    Second, you said, “Regarding the statement of faith and the little canned statement at the end of each sermon.” You might want to be careful not to disregard the power of God to use these. Why Joel does something or how he does it are not nearly as relevant as the power of God to take small things and use them for His Kingdom. What is small in our eyes God can use for His glory.

    I know from personal experience how God has used small, seemingly disconnected statements in a sermon to seriously challenge me. The Holy Spirit is powerful and probing.

    We might also want to take into consideration that he probably knows his flock better than we know his flock.

    Grace and Peace,

    Yvette

  77. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 3:11 pm #

    Joel Osteen obviously equates teaching about Jesus as “explaining scriptures”. Here is the question and answer again:

    Inteviewer: “[In your new book, you write that] to become a better you, you must be positive towards yourself, develop better relationships, embrace the place where you are. Not one mention of God in that. Not one mention of Jesus Christ in that.”

    Osteen: “That’s just my message. There is scripture in there that backs it all up. But I feel like, Byron, I’m called to help people…how do we walk out the Christian life? How do we live it? And these are principles that can help you. I mean, there’s a lot better people qualified to say, ‘Here’s a book that going to explain the scriptures to you.’ I don’t think that’s my gifting.”

    All the interviewer was commenting about was that there is no MENTION of Jesus or God in his book. Joel does not just say that the book is not about that…he goes on and equates it with explaining the scriptures. Therefore, Joel believes (according to his own quote) that mentioning God or Jesus is “explaining the scriptures”. Did the interviewer ask “Why don’t you give a carefule exegesis of the scriptures explaining what Jesus is about?”…all he asked is why there was no MENTION of Jesus or God.

    It seems that you (and Joel Osteen) are reading into the interviewer’s statement/question something he did not say. To me it seems that Osteen got a little defensive because he seems to be insecure about his bible knowledge.

    2 Tim.2:15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

    Seems to me he is ashamed and well should be.

  78. j razz October 17, 2007 at 3:20 pm #

    He knows he shouldn’t be a seminary professor or a theologian. He’s a pastor, which last time I checked was someone who shepherded, guided, protected, and cared for the flock. To me, true pastors aren’t those tied to their pulpit, waxing eloquent with lofty exegesis. True pastors are those who lay down their life, get in the trenches, so to speak, and help people live everyday life to the glory of God.

    Titus 1.5-16

    Joel Osteen needs to be able to exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who don’t have it. That is a qualification for a pastor.

    A pastor should be nothing less than someone who could teach on a seminary level or be a theologian. These are actually things that should belong to the teach and not institutions, but the church has divorced itself for the most part from these responsibilities and abdicated them so therein lies the necessity of the institution.

    When we look at what a pastor is, we need to look at how God defines it and not how we view the role to be.

    j razz

  79. j razz October 17, 2007 at 3:23 pm #

    These are actually things that should belong to the teach and not institutions…

    Substitute “teach” for Church.

    j razz

  80. Bryan L October 17, 2007 at 3:48 pm #

    Kevin,
    You said,
    “All the interviewer was commenting about was that there is no MENTION of Jesus or God in his book.”

    Just to clarify Kevin, Byron doesn’t say there is no mention of Jesus or God in the book he says there is no mention of Jesus or God in those principals he just listed.

    Kevin I think you are reading way too much into Osteen’s response to a question assuming that he is saying way more than he actually did. On top of that you seem to refuse to do any further research on Osteen but keep going back to this one response to a question and things you’ve heard. You seem to be grasping for anything you can get to criticize and him and tear him down. That worries me a bit.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  81. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 4:11 pm #

    Bryan,

    It was Joel that put the question in the context of the whole book.

    “…I mean, there’s a lot better people qualified to say, ‘Here’s a book that going to explain the scriptures to you.’ I don’t think that’s my gifting.”

    He seems to take the question to mean that the book does not mention Jesus…not just the principles. His answer implies that the book does not explain the scriptures but he uses scriptures to explain his book.

  82. jeremy z October 17, 2007 at 4:35 pm #

    mlm and Bryan L,

    This is an upward battle. I love their language of the true gospel. The the gospel is not the gospel unless it has the doctrine pieces of A, B, C, and D.

    In the NT James preaches the faith without works gospel. Jesus preaches the greatest commandment is to love your GOd with all your heart and to love your neighbors. Paul preaches the gospel of reconciliation and freedom.

    Yes repent is used roughly over 45 times. But love in relation to how much the Father loves us is used over 200 times in the NT.

    Here is my arugment. The gospel is good news. The good news is layered in love and grace. The repentance does not happen until the head and heart fully accept the love in which was given to them.

    Yes I know this is not the “true” gospel in your eyes. And telling one to repent is communicating the truth in love. My concern is that sometimes telling the truth in love takes time, relationship, and a process.

    For instance, I meet one of you (lets use Blank Slate for role playing purposes). Lets say Blank Slate is fairly overweight. Right when I am shaking hands with Blank Slate, I boldly state: Wow Blank Slate you are sure fat! Buddy you need to lay off of the big macs. You need the aktin’s diet, because this diet is the only “true” diet.

    Now I communicate the entire truth to Blank Slate immediately. And depending on how thick skinned Blank Slate is, he will probably feel a bit embarrassed and insecure. But, wait I communicate the “truth” to him and what “true” diet he should use. Although the way I communicated and what I communicated to Blank Slate, completely turn him off to anything I had to say to them, even if it is “true” atkin’s diet that works.

    My point: yes repentance is in the gospel message, but we need to be aware of what and how we communicate (intentionally or unintentionally) when we say you are wrong (repent) and you must follow me in the right way.

    If we promote defensiveness then we have lost our ability to be heard. I argue that we promote defensiviness in 6 ways:
    1. Superiority—It is more about attitude than words. Attitude that says I’m further down the road, therefore I’m better than you. It is the receiver who defines this, not the initiator.

    2. Certainty—attitude of I am so certain this is true. This communicates I’m so certain, and you are a fool.

    3. Evaluation–of opponents-tells somebody who they are. I used to be just like you. A sense of judgment towards the individuals. Evaluation means you are elevated and the individual is de-elevated

    4. Control-This where you control the dialogue or interaction or the end goal of the conversation. The person feels as though he or she is being boxed in. Defensiveness manifests itself in a variety of ways, namely verbal (both silent and loud), nonverbal, and the shut down technique

    5. Neutrality-an objective source of wisdom. I really don’t care. If you don’t care, why should I care?

    6. Strategy-if they sense any strategy/and or agenda, they will get defensiveness and run away.

    Telling someone to repent can evoke defensiveness. We all have a methodology, theology, and style in which we communicate the gospel. Paul presented his gospel message a different way than James. John did it differently too.
    We are all driving cars. Yeah one may be driving a Honda or a Ford, but it still is a car.
    We are all preaching the gospel. It may be the baptist gospel (get them saved and then dunk them) or the Lutheran gospel (it is all about faith and grace) or even the AG gospel (get them saved and make them start speaking in tongues). If the love of Jesus is the center message or at the source the message, one is a teacher of Christ because he or she is rooted in Christ.

    I am glad we are getting into some good stuff here!!!!

  83. Bryan L October 17, 2007 at 4:58 pm #

    Kevin,
    You said,
    “His answer implies that the book does not explain the scriptures but he uses scriptures to explain his book.”

    Exactly. That is what he does. There are some books that are commentaries on scripture – the scripture guides the topics of discussion.
    And then there are books where the topic is backed up with scripture.

    Osteen is saying the former is not his thing and the latter is. Both have a place. It’s not one or the other. The reason is because the scriptures don’t address every situation we could face. But they do contain principles that could help us with every situation we could face. That’s why the topical based book or sermon has it’s place just as the expository book or sermon has it’s place.

    Jeremy,
    I agree. we are all preaching the gospel and we all have different ways of doing it and different things we emphasize that are all part of the Gospel. None of us gets it all right. But all of us together do, as long as we don’t try to push out and condemn those who don’t do it exactly like we do.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  84. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 5:25 pm #

    Bryan,

    I understand the 2 different styles. But if a person admittedly does not feel qualified to explain the scriptures then they should not be a pastor. The pastor must be able to equip his flock with doctrine.

    Take Romans for example. Paul spent the first 11 chapters teaching the doctrinal basics of the New Testament BEFORE using these basics as the foundation for practical living (Chapters 12-15). He spent 3 times more space teaching the basics.

    If our “living right” is not supported by the foundation of mercy, justification, and sanctification then we quickly become legalistic and try to live the christian life in our own power. Of course, if a person is not truly saved then they must live “their best life now” in their own power.

    Also, remember that Satan uses the scriptures for his own purposes as well.

    I have a booklet that someone gave me that is a member of Osteen’s church. It is called “30 Thoughts for Victorious Living”. Thought #23 uses Proverbs 23:7 (As a man thinks in his heart so is he.) to mean that we are to raise our self-image. It says:

    “Did you know you will never rise above the image you have of yourself?”

    “If you choose to stay focused on the things that are negative in your life, then by your own choice you are agreeing with the enemy. You cast the deciding vote. When you believe his lies, it opens a door to destruction in your life.”

    Sounds alot like the response Job was getting from his “friends”.

    #27 says “Be Who You Are” (Eph. 2:10)

    You know, NOT ONE OF THE 30 POINTS says ANYTHING about SIN and the need to repent and be saved! This booklet makes me sick. I kept it for a reason and now I see why. Joel Osteen spent much $ producing the booklet with NO thought about it being an evangelical tool. Why not? Why couldn’t it have been 31 thoughts for victorious living and make 1 of the points a CLEAR presentation of the gospel. Oh yeah, that’s not his thing. :(

  85. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 5:56 pm #

    In fact #3 has a prayer at the end that says:

    “…Thank you for the Holy Spirit who is my Comforter and leads and guides me into all truth.”

    How does Joel Osteen know that the person reading his booklet even has the Holy Spirit or even has had an opportunity to hear a clear presentation of the gospel?

  86. Yvette October 17, 2007 at 6:06 pm #

    Howdy ya’ll,

    I ran by Barnes and Noble to briefly check out Osteen’s new book. I did not read it, and I did not buy it. That being said, let me make the following notations.

    The concept of the book not mentioning God or Jesus is absolutely wrong. God was on a lot of the pages I looked at. I think what the interviewer was doing was looking at the Table of Contents.

    On page 35 Osteen talks about the high price God paid for us…His only Son.

    On page 377 there is this prayer with other info:

    “Jesus, I believe You died for me and rose from the dead, so now I want to live for You. I am turning away from my sins and placing my trust in You. I acknowledge You as my Savior and Lord, and I am asking You to guide my life form now on.”

    He continues by recommending to read the Bible, talk to God through prayer, attend a Bible based church, and Keep God in first place and follow His principles.

    Again, I have not read much Osteen or listened to much of his material. I have no personal stake in the matter. However, I care passionately about truth, and the idea that there is no mention of God or Jesus is thoroughly void of truth.

    You can take my word for it or drop by a bookstore. I am fairly certain the page numbers referenced are accurate. Please do not consider this any form of an endorsement for the book because I did not read enough to comment in either direction. I was merely trying to see if God and/or Jesus is referenced and/or if the sacrifice of Christ is mentioned. Both are.

    I hope this clears up some confusion.

    Grace and Peace.

  87. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 6:18 pm #

    Thanks Yvette. That is good to hear.

    It is a little disturbing that Joel did not defend that in the interview. Maybe he forgot.

  88. Yvette October 17, 2007 at 6:29 pm #

    Kevin,

    If they were referencing the Table of Contents, then it is a different issue. I’m still not sure to what the interviewer was referring.

  89. mlm October 17, 2007 at 6:53 pm #

    Kevin:

    This is my last comment on this thread, so feel free to have the last word.

    1) I don’t write this to be mean, but to possibly help you in the long run because I feel that before each person decides WHAT he thinks, we ought to learn HOW to think (and please don’t wrongly feel that I’m taking a dig at your intelligence or common sense; I’m referring to critical thinking). That said, I strongly recommend your taking a college course on critical thinking, logic, philosophy, or something in the same vein…something that requires you (under supervision) to read/listen to a text and then digest it, critique it, explain it, expound on it, defend it, contrast it, etc. I don’t have time to go line by line on each of your comments in this thread, but suffice it to say that I think you have misheard/misunderstood/mirepresented/minterpretted the Osteen interview in many ways, some more basic than others.

    2. I haven’t been to Osteen’s church so I’m basically in the same camp as Yvette here, just trying to defend a guy who seems to be getting the short end of the stick, if you know what I mean. However, if you want my opinion, that little booklet would be a PERFECT tool to give someone who just answered the altar call to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. Perhaps that was the scenario in which it was given? It surely would explain what you consider the absence of vital text. Look, I’m not going to prattle on and on about the things I’ve seen in the ministry or the publishing industry, but I’ve been around. And I think your mind is made up about Osteen in a dangerous fashion…one where you don’t know all the facts, and frankly don’t seem to want to.

    Denny: Just a sidenote in case you’re still reading this thread. I read your work because I feel you have a great deal of education and a gift for articulating what you’ve learned. However, I was disappointed by this post because I feel you acted irresponsibly by not digging more. We who make such broad and concrete statements (as you did about Osteen) ought to have ample firsthand proofs to back them up. I hope you are prepared to answer to God for these accusations you’ve made. Perhaps you’d do well to research a bit more next time.

  90. Carlito October 17, 2007 at 8:17 pm #

    Goodness gracious, great balls of fire. My head is spinning!

    mlm – I know you said that was your last post, but I wanted to respond to your reply.. This is my last one as well. As always, we can agree to disagree….

    1. As Kevin said, I’m not jealous of Joel because he’s successful or because he’s popular. I’m simply expressing my opinion on the concerns I have about his ministry after seeing numerous TV sermons and watching several interviews. The fact that he had an interview on 60 minutes warrants a discussion thread like this – obviously very high-profile news in the evangelical world. I feel like I’ve seen enough of his “body of work” to at least comment on what I think are glaring problems with his message.

    2. In sharing my thoughts, I am not condemning him or his followers to hell. I’m simply expressing my concern about the potential damages that come from the prosperity gospel – as was mentioned above, see Jim Bakker’s powerful testimony in the book “I Was Wrong”). Also, I’m not attacking the man, I’m arguing against his theology – or lack thereof.

    3. On 60 minutes, they actually did show big offering buckets being passed around at a service in Houston, but that’s a moot point. I acknowledge that I haven’t actually been to a service and I’ve never met the man. However, because of the accessibility of his programs and his EXTREME popularity and influence (with TV and internet, etc.), I believe this naturally warrants accountability and criticisms if there are evidences supporting such reactions. Is it a mere coincidence that a large number of evangelicals from a wide range of denominations are expressing concern over Osteen’s overall prosperity message? I think not.

    3. Your argument of doing “more research” is unreasonable in my opinion. Back to the Piper example, have you met with John Piper or Mark Driscoll or any other pastors or theologians with whom you strongly disagree and call out on blogs or other venues? Have you been to Bethlehem Baptist? How many John Piper sermons have you listened to or how many of his books have you read from cover to cover? Again, I understand you have said you’re not “attacking” the person of John Piper, but I’m not attacking the person of Joel Osteen, I’m questioning the focus of his ministry and his health/weatlh/prosperity theology.

    I respect your opinions when you state that you think Piper’s theology is outrageous or extreme or ridiculous. Please provide those like myself and Kevin with the same courtesy – including our interpretation of an interview or a tv story or sermons or a booklet.

    4. Lastly, you said: “..About small men with lots of time criticizing large men with little time?”

    I’m not a pastor and it is not my place to directly confront Joel Osteen personally or publicly about his ministry. There are others much more qualified and in better positions (fellow pastors, elders, deacons, friends, colleagues, etc.) who should humbly do this if they feel led to approach him.

    However, as believers, we ARE called to be concerned about the potential watering down of the gospel, and we are to be diligent in our defense of the whole counsel of God as revealed in Scripture. In fact, I would argue that it is EXTREMELY important that we hold pastors and leaders within the church accountable because of the weighty nature of the calling.

    I’m not asking for his head on a silver platter or saying that he should be fired immediately. As I said above, when there is an interview on 60 minutes viewed by MILLIONS across the country, it’s going to be big news in evangelical circles and on blogs like this – no matter what your perspective is.

    BTW, I’m not a small man with a lot of time. For the record, I’m 6’3″, and I’m very busy most of the time with work, church and family.

    Thanx for the dialogue…
    In Christ,
    =C=

  91. Yvette October 17, 2007 at 10:21 pm #

    In light of the attacks in this blog on Osteen for not writing about God or Jesus in his book, and taking into consideration that he does…don’t you think that there are a lot of people on this blog who were calling for Joel to repent who need to be repenting themselves?
    Even the very title of this post is inaccurate.

  92. James October 17, 2007 at 10:23 pm #

    Haven’t read this entire thread but I didn’t spot this. You can actually watch Joel’s sermons online here (registration required):
    http://www.lakewood.cc/site/PageServer?pagename=LCH_streamingvideo

    I sat and listened to his sermons online almost two years ago and I have to say he tells good stories about himself but his messages have pretty much zero to do with the Gospel.

  93. Yvette October 17, 2007 at 10:28 pm #

    Carlito,

    This may be none of my business, but you wrote to MLM “Your argument of doing ‘more research’ is unreasonable in my opinion.” It took me all of about five minutes flipping through Osteen’s book to discredit the accusations that his book is void of God and/or Jesus.

    There is a level of spiritual integrity and intellectual honesty that we as Christians must have whether or not we are in public ministry. That is exactly why I went to Barnes and Noble. I, too, am very busy, but I am not about to start attacking Osteen without knowing what is the actual truth about his book. I don’t read his stuff, so that is WHY I had to go.

    I truly believe we are better off not speaking or writing, than hurling accusations with little or no effort in pursuing the truth.

    As Christians it is critical that we remember this blog is not confined to Christians reading it. So if an unbeliever pops on and sees us attacking another believer without actually finding out what that person writes or teaches, what kind of witness is that? This is something for all of us to remember…including myself.

    Our words and attitudes are placed out here for all to see…what would you see from these conversations if you weren’t a Christian?

    Grace and peace.

  94. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 10:53 pm #

    Yvette,

    I agree. I repent of accusing him of not mentioning Jesus or God in his book.

    I do not repent of accusing him of not giving a biblical explanation of salvation in his sermons or books. He gives most of his time to encouraging our “self-esteem” and then says believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior and you are born again. I have said it before on this post and will say it again…true-believism only comes from hearing the gospel through the Word of God (Romans 10).

    He showed why he “rides the fence” on the Larry King Live show:

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2007/10/17/lkl.joel.osteen.cnn

    He doesn’t want to offend anybody! He wants his self-help psycho book to reach “outside the church”. He says all the right things EXCEPT a clear presentation of the Truth. Was Jesus afraid of offending people?

    Matthew 10

    34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

    I guess in Osteen’s eyes he is helping people “find” their life while Jesus said we are to lose our life to find it. I bet you NEVER see these verses quoted in any of his sermons or books.

  95. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 10:59 pm #

    Here is some essays from a man that HAS does some investigating into Osteen:

    http://www.wscal.edu/faculty/wscwritings/horton.osteen.php

  96. Yvette October 17, 2007 at 11:06 pm #

    Kevin, thanks for this link also.

  97. Kevin Jones October 17, 2007 at 11:08 pm #

    Sorry for the BAD grammar/typing…it is late. :)

  98. Yvette October 17, 2007 at 11:12 pm #

    I understand the late thing…that’s why I will probably wait until tomorrow to finish the Horton articles you linked.

  99. Yvette October 18, 2007 at 12:22 am #

    I apologize if this question sounds sarcastic. That is not my intention. It is truly a question.

    There are a large number of people truly opposed to Osteen and his teachings here. I’ve said repeatedly that I truly have not encountered his material enough to comment.

    My question is for those so opposed to his ministry:

    Do you honestly pray for him regularly?

    If there is anyone who truly does, I honestly would like to hear from you.

  100. Bryan L October 18, 2007 at 7:02 am #

    Pray for those we don’t like? Pray for our enemies?!! Heck no why would I want to do that? I pray that God would smite them. That’s when those imprecatory prayers really come in handy.

    Just kidding, but honestly I really don’t pray for those whom I criticize. I find it easier to just criticize them and tear them down. That’s probably why I do my best now not to criticize and tear others down. Then I don’t have to feel guilty for not praying for them! : )

    Good word Yvette (especially #95).

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  101. Kevin Jones October 18, 2007 at 9:35 am #

    Yvette & Bryan L,

    My intention is not to try to tear down Osteen by to warn others against his half-truth teachings.

    His self-esteem approach does nothing but numb a soul to the reality of sin and eternal punishment from the Almighty God. Then he throws in at the end of his message a little prayer to be saved by.

    Joel Osteen is RIGHT, he IS fulfilling his calling!

    2 Tim. 4

    1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound£ teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

  102. David Hamilton October 21, 2007 at 5:08 pm #

    great blog, man…
    I’m taking the

    “Link away!”

    that you gave Jesica and running with it.

    (Typology?)

  103. Chris October 24, 2007 at 1:18 pm #

    Hey Jeremy! Great posts!

    Any criticism of Joel (they are running rampant)is based on incomplete knowledge and a true lack of the critical process needed to label anyone heretical! What a tragedy this is for the entire kingdom.

    Not one Christian “theologian” has presented a case that Joel is a heretic. All have made leaps that there is not enough evidence to support. Even in the failed human justice system we consider people innocent until PROVEN guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. I would think labeling someone a heretic should have at least this high of a standard of proof.

    Matthew 7 goes on to tell us:

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'”

    Notice that Jesus says “I” will tell them. Him… not us!

  104. gate October 26, 2007 at 8:45 pm #

    Was there any condemnation of Christ in Joel’s preaching?
    Was there any condemnation of the Scriptures in his preaching?
    Is the love of God and neighbor the great command neglected or repressed?
    Does anybody know Joel Osteen’s heart?
    Those who know the Truth knows where Joel’s preaching stands.
    Those who lack the Truth does not give justice in condemning a person withot Gods basis to back them up.
    “Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another,envying one another” Gal. 5:26

  105. Michele November 1, 2007 at 11:01 pm #

    I doubt that at this late date anyone will continue to post on this blog but I feel compelled to do so.
    My son is a pastor on staff at Lakewood. I have been to services, met Joel, his staff and his family. What you see on television is only a portion of the service. This is a gospel centered church, I know that for a fact. My son is required to spend one day of every week doing nothing but studying the gospel, uninterupted.
    I have personally spoken with people who’s lives have changed, spurred by Joel’s message of hope…and I don’t mean a new mercedes was dropped at their front door. I mean they were inspired to overcome their addictions, pick themselves out of the gutter and hungered for more…namely the word!

  106. Benjamin November 2, 2007 at 7:24 pm #

    I understand the possibility that Joel is a gifted speaker, but he is not a gifted teacher …I know this by the lack of scriptural references he uses during his messages.Heb 5:12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.if what you say is true michele, i am saddened by the fact Joel possibly reserves his truly powerful Word of God focused messages for audiences other than his Tv viewers.Above and beyond all this- the Holy spirit prompts me to feel that Joel is a danger.

    Benjamin

  107. Jesica November 5, 2007 at 10:16 pm #

    This past week, I had a 3 hour wait in the airport, and so decided to go into Borders and peruse Joel’s new book.

    At the very beginning of one of the chapters, he quotes Nehemiah, and is trying to build a case argument that if we show up, God will show up.

    He quoted Scripture, and then gave the Nehemiah reference. I had studied Nehemiah, and didn’t recall the Word saying what he says in his book that it says.

    So, I pulled out my Palm Treo, on which I have the Bible in the NASB and in the ASV, and was CRUSHED to find that Joel had TOTALLY and completely misquoted the Word!

    You can see it for yourself if you pick up the book…it’s at the very beginning of one of the chapters. (sorry, I don’t recall which one)

    The part that scares me about that is that this is what the evil one did in the garden. He added to God’s Word, and we see this again at the temptation of Christ..satan either adds to God’s Word, or takes away from it, or uses it totally out of context.

    That was all I needed to see…besides the fact that without carrying our cross, without denying ourselves to follow Him, there is no Christianity. Joel teaches we can have our best life now, but that’s not what God’s Word teaches.

    We are told we will suffer. We will lose friends and family. We will be persecuted.

    The rich young ruler was told to give all he had to follow Christ, and we are asked for now less than that.

    Maybe what we will be asked to give up won’t be money…but something even more important to us.

    For me, following Christ has cost me a career in which I made a 6 figure income before the age of 30. It has cost me friends…and the hardest one of all, it has cost me a relationship with my mother and father.

    However, I wouldn’t take one of those things back…I consider it all rubbish in comparison to following Christ.

    In Him,
    Jes

  108. Jeff January 10, 2008 at 3:13 pm #

    I know it is probable that no one will see this as I am beyond late to this discussion, but I have watched some of Joel’s services on TV in the past and I noticed the same thing that Jes mentioned from his book. I remember seeing an Easter service that he did in Minute Maid park in Houston. I wish I could remember the text he was using. He put the verses on the screen and preached from the text, but he picked up in the middle of one verse and then used an elipses and picked up the passage a couple of verses further on. Which was convenient for sure, because on reading the entire passage, I found that some of the parts he left out didn’t fit well with the message he was giving. This kind of thing disturbs me greatly, as my grandmother instilled in me early the need to “rightly divide the Word of God”, meaning that we need to be willing to treat it correctly and in total. Not just the parts that fit what we want it to say.
    Jeff

  109. Roland March 26, 2008 at 4:23 pm #

    God bless you all for the debate which is quite interesting and educative but I believe the Church is experiencing the End-times challenges and we need to be blessed with the gift of discernment to differentiate a false preacher from a genuine on.

    Roland

  110. Lea February 20, 2009 at 11:16 pm #

    Hey I really appreciated you writing this blog. I am totally there with on what you wrote. One question though how do I give a good argument to the love of my life who adores Joel Osteens teachings?

  111. Tarrens May 8, 2009 at 8:40 pm #

    Joel is preaching the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians Chapter 5) and for that he has been vilified but Wisdom is always justified by Her children (Luke 7:35) as was said by the Master when he was being vilified.

    The Christ is the “Fruit of the Spirit”

    Learn from Wisdom, become Her child, next, Lift up the Fruits of the Spirit so that You May Drawn To Him. If you overcome there is a Crown and more waiting for You. (Revelations 3:11)

  112. Ronald Davis July 10, 2009 at 12:42 am #

    Don’t know much about Joel Osteen, which from reading most of these comments I guess is good. I know God will provide for his people as he sees fit. Folks our treasure is not here on earth. Eternity is a long time and living like a king for a season in this world is not worth your soul. Maybe Joel can have his cake and eat it too. I don’t know? Unless your living in real poverty be thankful for what you have. Does he understand as a pastor if he is leading his flock down the wrong road what will happen to him. If Joel is a phoney God will deal with him and I would not want to be in his shoes no matter how much they cost. God bless.

  113. David December 16, 2009 at 12:58 am #

    He is a good life coach. He helps me stay positive and he gives scriptures and praises God. He gives God the glory.

    What is wrong with someone thinking positive and telling people to be positive?

    If we are better people we can be better Christians.

    I also like the fact Joel Osteen is Non- Denominational.

    I can testify that his programs help me think more positive as a person and encourages me to open my Bible.

    I’m not bashing any of you for your opinions. I’m not saying you are wrong. I’m not saying you are right either.

  114. Jordan December 16, 2009 at 10:47 am #

    David, what we must realize is that even though we may *like* to hear such “preaching” (as Joel Osteen’s) is to invite temptation. His “preaching” is neither the milk nor the meat of God’s word–it’s distorting Scriptures. I have seen a few of his programs, and the only time he even has mentioned the gospel was at the end where he invites watchers to “invite Jesus into your heart.” And then, who wouldn’t want to be a Christian? But they’ve not been convicted of sin–sin is something that he himself admits is woefully lacking in his message.

    And with a low esteem of sin, how can Mr. Osteen give God the glory He deserves–from saving us from the sin that we could not save ourselves from? Osteen is not giving God the glory b/c he is not proclaiming the gospel in its entirety, which is the worst thing a preacher can do … which is why Dr. Burk calls him a false teacher.

    God bless you. I truly hope that you have a local church that preaches the true, full, Biblical gospel. Osteen’s message is feel-good, but the Bible (and Bible preaching–not self-help messages) feels a lot better.

  115. David C August 6, 2010 at 1:12 pm #

    Here’s my perspective, take it or leave it:

    I’m not a huge fan of Joel Osteen’s for many of the stated reasons. I believe he simply doesn’t teach the full counsel of God contained in the bible. The way to a better life begins with the acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s personal Savior and continues through the sanctification process (which requires that we understand the nature of sin and are able to identify it within our own lives).

    I, unlike many who have contributed herein, have watched several dozen of Osteen’s sermons. My point of view is pretty simple. I think he basically provides a supplemental message that can be advantageous to mature Christians who understand the nature of atonement and their need to repent. I have found myself blessed many times by the words of Osteen (even though, as stated, I’m not a huge fan or supporter of his ministry in general). Regarding any level of “prosperity doctrine” preached by him, I’ve never heard him speak on the issue of money. It’s possible I simply haven’t seen him address this issue, but the “prosperity” I’ve heard him discuss directly is one which I believe we can all agree upon and accept – inner peace, contentment and an abundant life (meaning a life filled with the joy of the Lord). Christ did state that He came to give us life more abundantly…so there’s absolutely nothing wrong with showing people how to accomplish this in a practical manner. I know MANY seasoned Christians who have yet to find this peace and abundance. So, in essence, Joel does have a valid perspective.

    Do I think Joel needs to teach the full counsel of the bible? Yes.

    Do I think Joel is doing a disservice to his congregants by failing to address the issues of sin, repentance and atonement? Most definitely.

    Am I incensed that he never invokes the name above all other names in his messages, rarely even uses the word God and has removed any visual Christian imagery from the church? You bet’cha.

    Do I believe he is abusing his position of leadership? Yes.

    Do I believe he will be judged by God more harshly for his failure to speak on the central elements of the gospel? 100%

    Do I think Joel is a false prophet (which is a pretty heavy claim)? That’s debatable.

    From my perspective, I don’t think Joel should consider himself (or BE considered) a Pastor. If he changed the scope of his ministry to “self help guru through Christian principles” I think he’d receive a lot more slack from Christians with a decidedly fundamental view of Christianity (which includes me). I don’t claim to be an expert on Joel’s teachings, but this is simply my assessment of what I have seen and heard. What I do believe is that he provides much too much wiggle room for those who sit under his leadership. It is only through a complete understanding of Christ’s teachings that we are able to identify and root out our sin, and surrender those parts of ourselves to the only One who has the power to grant spiritual immunity. We will ALL come under scrutiny on the day of judgment. Will Joel be scolded for his ministry or cast into the lake of fire? I believe that is God’s call. None of us are truly qualified to provide that answer.

    • Dan July 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

      Dave,

      I gotta admit your response is by far one the more intelligent responses. While I agree with most of your response, I want to piggy-back on the last two sentences of your response – “I believe that is God’s call. None of us are truly qualified in anyway to provide such an answer.”

      I think that’s the appropriate and most responsible path of response and venture to take, especially on an issue that is not by God’s judgement, but rather an issue of concern conjured up by people.

      Yes, we have been given the Word, which most of the time, humans tend to mis-interpret and with each new version that comes out, much historical/cultural empathy is lost in translation.

      Plain and simple: Osteen is just a guy walking toward a vision of positivity.

      I find that ethical/moral/spiritual standards are so above us that we all fail. Osteen says it, maybe not to the concentrated efforts of most pastors, but he acknowledges it and instead of focusing on the blame/shame game, he’s saying dig deep and start doing some work. Get elemental. Get simple. Start with positive thoughts. That simple exercise alone can change the way a person feels in a matter of seconds, thereby setting a trend throughout the day. It’s called clearing yourself out from the confusion and blind fury of negativity.

      The Word doesn’t discount this and if you actually just think about it – praising God is the acknowledgement of God’s good love.

      Everyone should know that the church has always tried to deem what is “right” or “wrong” – especially modern day churches – in the name of the Lord.

      We’re all wrong.

      Take note – the only things humans have ever been right about were handed to them. Not made by them.

      • David C July 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

        Points well-received, Dan. And thank you for the compliment.

  116. CJ December 23, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    An old thread but just a valid today and even so more imperative now more than ever as the day of our King quickly approaches is the need to expose and warn Gods people that this type of oration (not preaching – by his own admission he is a coach) is not only void of the Gospel which is the preaching of Christ and Him Crucified but it is fully Anti-God and will lead one to potentially to hell. Paul epistle to the Corinthian church says it best. 1st Corinthians 1:18 says it best, For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

  117. Vicki March 31, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    Prosperity – abundance…isn’t this about what’s in the heart?…I just don’t think Jesus was talking about money and things…isn’t that what Satan tempted Christ with???? & Christ said “get behind me Satan – thou shall not tempt the Lord your God!” I think abundance is about repentance, forgivness…knowing God without all the worldly distractions getting in the way…there’s alot of people out there with alot of things and money…unsatisfied – needing more, more, more…where’s the abundance in that? check out what John Macarthur has to say about these False profits for profit people & the narrow road in which God offers us. Thank you for your site!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Denny Burk » Video of Joel Osteen on “60 Minutes” - October 17, 2007

    [...] The conversation about Joel Osteen is continuing under my previous post, “Joel Osteen’s Christianity without a Cross.” I’m writing this post as a follow-up to alert readers that the entire “60 Minutes” feature on Osteen is available at CBS.com. You can view it at the following link: “Preacher to the Masses.”   [...]

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