"The Spiritual Rock Star" Joel Osteen

I saw Joel Osteen last night on Larry King Live. I know many people have many different opinions of Osteen but I wanted to share some concerns I had regarding this man because I am constantly asked what I think of him. I must say, some people have a lot to say when they've never done their homework. I feel I can say something here because I have watched Joel's preaching numerous times and have seen him interviewed now on Larry King.

Joel Osteen?
If you don't know who I am referring to, Joel Osteen pastors the largest church in the United States. Over 47,000 people attend the church he pastors, Lakewood Church, in Houston, TX. He is a best-selling author, speaker and has been referred to as the "Spiritual Rock Star."

I talked with a pastor-friend the other day who had spoke negatively of Osteen for years. He now feels that he has been to harsh. I personally think we can find good in everyone; however, we must share our concerns when there are some. I will share mine here.

My main concern with Joel Osteen is that I don't feel he preaches the whole counsel of God. Osteen, as I will outline below, preaches primiarly about positive thinking. What he fails to share with his congregation is the whole counsel of God -- that yes, God is a God of love but God is also a God of judgement and that unless a man believes in Jesus Christ, that he was crucified and God raised Him from the dead you are crushed in your sin and will go to a place called hell.

Here's some of the good...

  • Joel has helped thousands of people to live better lives.
  • His church has done more for the city of Houston than any other organization or church in that area.
  • Osteen has not taken credit for what he has done but has said it was God using him and seems humbled when he is questioned about how he is used to change people’s lives.
  • Joel is a great motivational speaker and author.

    Here’s some of the bad...

  • His theology is flawed in many ways. He has been wishy-washy on whether Jesus is the only way to God. I will highlight a transcript of his previous interview on Larry King Live here:

    KING: Because we've had ministers on who said, your record don't count. You either believe in Christ or you don't. If you believe in Christ, you are, you are going to heaven. And if you don't no matter what you've done in your life, you ain't.
    OSTEEN: Yeah, I don't know. There's probably a balance between. I believe you have to know Christ. But I think that if you know Christ, if you're a believer in God, you're going to have some good works. I think it's a cop-out to say I'm a Christian but I don't ever do anything ...
    KING: What if you're Jewish or Muslim, you don't accept Christ at all?
    OSTEEN: You know, I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know ...
    KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They're wrong, aren't they?
    OSTEEN: Well, I don't know if I believe they're wrong. I believe here's what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God with judge a person's heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don't know. I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.

    Since this interview Osteen issued a public apology stating that he wants to be clear that he believes in Jesus and even quoted John 14:6, but this only came after he was inundated with calls and letters.

  • Osteen preaches a message of prosperity for all. His message is “It’s God’s will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty. It’s God’s will for you to pay your bills and not be in debt. It’s God’s will for you to live in health and not in sickness all the days of your life.” These statements line up with the Word of Faith movement. It’s definitely positive thinking, but you have to take Scripture out of context to support this belief. I believe living for Jesus is ‘the way’ to live and its definitely a better way to live… but that doesn’t mean that my life will be easy and there will not be hard times.
  • Joel’s preaching is very positive and encouraging but there is not very much depth. I also repeat, he does not preach the whole counsel of God. Here is another transcript from his first appearance on Larry King:

    KING: I want to get to the seven steps. But when the people call you cotton candy theology. Someone said you're very good but there's no spiritual nourishment. I don't know what that means ...
    OSTEEN: I think, I hear it meaning a lot of different things. One I think a lot of it is that I'm not condemning people. And I don't know, but Larry I talk, I mean every week in our church we're dealing with people that are fighting cancer, that have their lost loved ones. That are going through a divorce. I mean, I talk about those issues, and to me I don't see how it can get any more, you know, real than that. So I don't know what the criticism is.
    KING: How about issues that the church has feelings about? Abortion? Same-sex marriages?
    OSTEEN: Yeah. You know what, Larry? I don't go there. I just ...
    KING: You have thoughts, though.
    OSTEEN: I have thoughts. I just, you know, I don't think that a same-sex marriage is the way God intended it to be. I don't think abortion is the best. I think there are other, you know, a better way to live your life. But I'm not going to condemn those people. I tell them all the time our church is open for everybody.
    KING: You don't call them sinners?
    OSTEEN: I don't.
    KING: Is that a word you don't use?
    OSTEEN: I don't use it. I never thought about it. But I probably don't. But most people already know what they're doing wrong. When I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change. There can be a difference in your life. So I don't go down the road of condemning.

    Osteen is sincere and a man who clearly loves God, his family and church. He has had amazing success and obviously has a platform in which he has the ability to share with the masses. However, Joel Osteen will be held accountable for everything he has or hasn’t shared. I am in no way personally attacking Joel Osteen. We have enough gossip and attacks on our own army of followers of Christ and I will not add to that.

    Click here for a portion of last night's interview.

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