Monday, October 15, 2007

Joel Osteen

I've never watched Joel Osteen, but a great many people have and his books are best-sellers. He seems to have a lot of influence. Last evening 60 Minutes did a report on his work. It can be viewed here:Denny Burk watched that report. Here is a portion of his reaction:
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. ....

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 in 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.

Interviewer: “[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). .... [more] reviews Osteen's new book, Become a Better You. Portions of the review:
... The book is divided into seven parts, which together are sure to improve your life every day. “What does it mean to become a better you? First, you must understand that God wants you to become all that He created you to be. Second, it is imperative that you realize that God will do His part, but you must do your part as well.” To become a better you, you must following the seven steps:
  1. Keep pressing forward
  2. Be positive toward yourself
  3. Develop better relationships
  4. Form better habits
  5. Embrace the place where you are
  6. Develop your inner life
  7. Stay passionate about life
Each step is broken into several chapters and each part ends with a series of Action Points intended to give the reader concrete steps to take to improve his life. It is, frankly, a lot like every other self-help book on the market today, but with one crucial difference—this one is built, supposedly, upon the Bible. ....

I think the secret to Osteen’s success is this: he teaches self-help but wraps it in a thin guise of Christian terminology. Thus people believe they are being taught the Bible when the reality is that they are learning mere human wisdom rather than divine wisdom. Osteen cunningly blends the wisdom of this age with language that sounds biblical. He blends the most popular aspects of New Age and self-help teaching with Christianity. And his audience is eagerly drinking this in. [more]
Michael Spencer is characteristically frank after seeing the 60 Minutes report. Part of his reaction:
.... The line about getting people into “church” who have been out of “church” is simply crap, to be polite. No one in this movement is in church. They’re in the worst form of the prosperity Gospel, they are abandoning the God of the Bible, and they are glorifying a man who is assisting in the humiliation of the Gospel of Jesus. Osteen is a motivational speaker, and he uses only enough Christianity as necessary to get in the pockets of the gullible. Osteen is a Gospel preacher like Col. Sanders is an army officer. ....

Osteen probably doesn’t have the knowledge to be able to judge his own errors in the light of Biblical truth. Sad, but true. He simply has no idea that he has no idea. He thinks Jesus, the Holy Trinity and the Holy Scriptures are all means to the end of having a better paycheck. According to Osteen tonight, you can get the same truths from any psychologist or motivational speaker. .... [more]
Even the best intentioned [perhaps especially the best-intentioned] can do a great deal of harm - "The road to hell ...." Misleading people about the nature of the gospel does a great deal of harm.

Denny Burk » Joel Osteen’s Christianity without a Cross, Become a Better You by Joel Osteen, internetmonk: Reactions to the "60 Minutes" Joel Osteen Piece


  1. Just saw the video.

    "No crosses or religious symbols..." First tip off something isn't right.

    The gospel is good news, but Pastor Osteen is giving only half the message. We need redeption because we are sinners. Where is that? He's sincere is the prosperity gospel, but he is sincerely WRONG.

    60 Minutes: "Not one mention of God or Jesus Christ."
    Osteen: "That's just my message."
    I don' think he meant it that way, but that'swhat he said and it's truer than he knows! Osteen than says there's Scripture to back it all up. Ok, where?

    The person who called it a "cotton candy gospel" is totally right. And I agree with him when he said that Osteen makes religion about US and not GOD. That's sums up everything right there!

  2. In response to Denny Burke's comment:
    "Osteen cunningly blends the wisdom of this age with language that sounds biblical. He blends the most popular aspects of New Age and self-help teaching with Christianity. "
    I see Osteen's ministry as him cunningly blending the truths of the Bible with the wisdom of this age. He's doing the exact opposite of what some critics are saying. He presents the most practical application of God's word in your human existence. He has helped my walk with God through Scripture. His focus on prosperity is not even close to being centered on monitary or physical possessions. He spends much more time illuminating the prosperity of peace, joy, obedience, trust, and a character that puts God first every moment of every day. I'm glad and thankful that this is the way God speaks to me as far as Joel Osteen is concerned. I think there are many that don't want to believe that he's real. What could be more valuable? Someone who actually gives you step by steps for applying the Holy Word of our Creator to our individual lives. Our special path designed for each one by God. Thank you.


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