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 peopleâ€¦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 doâ€”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.