January 16, 2021

Reactions to the “60 Minutes” Joel Osteen Piece

UPDATE: A page of Horton resources related to Osteen.

UPDATE II: So many good Osteen pieces on there. Denny Burke zeroes in on Osteen’s glad admission that he does not preach the Bible’s main message.

: Slate Magazine on Osteen’s God.

joel_blink.gifThe mentality that thinks in terms of marketing Jesus inevitably moves toward progressive distortion of him; the pursuit of the next emotional round of experience easily degenerates into an intoxicating substitute for the spirituality of the Word. There is non-negotiable, biblical, intellectual content to be proclaimed. By all means insist that this content be heralded with conviction and compassion; by all means seek the unction of the Spirit; by all means try to think through how to cast this content in ways that engage the modern secularist. But when all the footnotes are in place, my point remains the same: the historic gospel is unavoidably cast as intellectual content that must be taught and proclaimed. -D.A. Carson, The Gagging of God

A few thoughts on tonight’s 60 Minutes’ piece on Joel Osteen.

1. Byron Pitts, the reporter doing the piece, was simply superb. To the point. Unmoved by show. Understood the problem. In fact, probably understood far more than Osteen himself does about Christianity.

2. As much as I would like to join those who say that Osteen is a simpleton who doesn’t know what he’s doing, a close examination will show that at every point where there is a choice between being part of the church or departing into heresy, Osteen sticks with the church where there is money to be had and departs from the church where there is a faith to be confessed. He’s could be called a heretic by some, even if he is a believer, and he communicates a purposefully false trivialization of the person and work of Jesus Christ in favor of a man-centered motivational message of self-improvement.

Again, as I’ve said before, every evangelical leader needs to personally and by name repudiate and separate from Osteen, and call upon him and his followers to come back into the faith that is articulated in the Apostle’s Creed.

3. Osteen’s 73 million dollar cash cow is making a lot of people wealthy. This is about money, and Osteen is smart enough to know there is more money to be had by avoiding begging on TV. This doesn’t change a thing, however. He’s taking enough money to fund a huge part of the modern missions movement and using it to put on a show and promote materialism.

4. 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.

cryingman.jpg5. Osteen’s tears of gratitude over being part of “changed lives” shouldn’t erase the fact that he is responsible for the spiritual delusion of millions, and his dressed up denial of the Biblical Gospel will be judged for the lie that it is on the day of judgement. I’ve got hundreds of letters from people telling me that IM essays “changed” or “helped” them. Send me 73 million bucks and I’ll be grateful, too.

6. The piece got what it needed out of Dr. Horton, but you should read Made In America to get the whole picture of what Horton would say if he had more time.

7. Evangelicals: Want to know why thousands of us are looking toward Rome? How bad can Marian dogmas and purgatory be in comparison to a movement that has tens of millions of people hailing Osteen as the great Christian proclaimer of our age? From Graham to Osteen. God help us. You cannot help but feel dirty.

8. 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.

9. The story no one seems to want to tell: Osteen never used the principles that are in his books in order to succeed. He dropped out of college after one year at ORU. (Too academic?) He was a media guy at his dad’s church. He was brought into the pulpit by his dad’s sudden death, and he was clueless. Parroted his dad’s methods for a couple of years, then found Norman Vincent Peale’s positive thinking and abandoned the Gospel for “life coaching.” In other words, he stumbled into daddy’s pulpit and found what drew the crowds. A guy with a message of personal improvement like Tony Robbins? Hardly.

Note: My previous essays on Osteen are available if you search “Osteen” on the search engine. For more substance, go over to Westy Seminary and read some of Horton’s Osteen writing, especially the “Glory Story” piece.


  1. Terri –
    I’m a programmer and so work in an office where the male:female ratio is 15:1. Of the 6 women in my office, only one is Christian, and the five non-Christians love Osteen. Why?

    “A hunk”
    “Oh I would take him home in a minute!”
    “I wonder if he takes _private_ confession?” (full suggestive tones used)

    Those are their reasons for watching him. Two are definite atheists, but don’t mind watching to Joel because “He doesn’t talk about Jesus or anything like that; besides I wouldn’t be f-ing him for his brains.” (that’s a direct quote)

    The odds are very much against my office having the only five women in America who only like Osteen for his looks. Michael’s list is very right to include “attraction” as a reason that some women are attracted to Osteen.

  2. 2000 year old woman,

    Are you really intending to compare Joel Osteen to Jesus Christ?

    People have always been “tired” of hearing about sin and punishment. But remember, Jesus said more about hell than anyone else in the New Testament.

    What do you mean by “today’s morals and values”? Would you like to compare those values with those of “Judah ben Joseph”?

    Osteen is good at mass marketing his version of materialistic moralistic therapuetic deism. There will always be many who find that “helpful.” The problem is that it is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


  3. Michael-
    “I do not believe anyone buys the book because they think he’s hot.”

    Oh yes they do! As per my previous post. Two of the ladies in my office bought his book for that exact reason. One said she never read it, but just got it “because he’s so f-ing hot”.

  4. webmonk……where to start.

    Gee. I am sure glad that men, believers and unbeleievers alike, never say such stupid, insipid things about women. I mean they would never make inappropriate comments about a woman in that way…would they?

    What you say has nothing to do with Chrsitian women any more than the construction workers who catcall women and go to church the next day should be a reflection on Chrsitian men.

    Yuck. It saddens me to even hear these insinuations.

  5. I’m glad that Michael is sounding an alarm. We do need leaders who aren’t afraid of the gospel, and speak it clearly in love. And yes, sometimes that love is firm. You don’t warn someone about danger in a sweet tone, you need more forcefulness.

    I,also, agree that part of the problem is the lack of male leadership in the Church. (You see it in Catholicism as well.)

    Let’s face it, following Christ isn’t always easy. Nor should it be. How can we be strong in our faith, if it has never been tested?

  6. I want to get out of this mess before I lose any more readers!

    The word “attracted” in my post was the wrong word. Maybe “They find him appealing to their notion of an ideal evangelical male” would be better.

    As I said, I do not believe sexual attraction is the issue, anecdotes or not. My point was entirely on another page.

  7. Terri, did I say every woman only watches Osteen because he’s “hot”?

    No, I said that there are women who do so. Did I say such a “stupid, insipid” thing about women? Only by quoting what women said.

    Michael’s list was a list of reasons why people watch Osteen, not everyone watches for every reason on the list, but every reason on the list is a reason why people watch Osteen – including that he’s attractive.

  8. This woman finds Osteen very creepy.

  9. It really struck me how many people support Joel Osteen just because his message is ‘nice.’ If people want a ‘nice’ message, then they’re right, a Christian church is the last place they should be. The real God is the last god they should seek.

  10. 2000 Year Old Woman –

    Calling Joel and others that preach the same positivity crap “alternative” is itself almost as scary as the issue at hand.

    “Christ died so that we might have life, and it more abundantly”. Let me take that from you now – that would be hermeneutically dishonest to use. Context is everything.

    Citing how much money his business funds to missions is not a validation of the message either. After all, we can all name highly efficient but evil business models that have contributed to “Good things”…(Enron)?..

    Remember this…”if any man preaches another gospel…let him be accursed…”?

    or.. is Joel just offering “Christianity Lite” for those who might not otherwise attend church?..

    Can you really expect people “Try Jesus on for size”.. and enter the kingdom of heaven? Seems like Jesus – yes the Son of Man Himself never found the need to water down the message just a bit “cause it was just not a good fit for some people”..

    Seriously – can anybody cite where anything less than recognition of one’s complete and utter depravity and inability to save themselves as the birthing point of salvation?

  11. No, I said that there are women who do so. Did I say such a “stupid, insipid” thing about women?

    I think you misunderstood what I wrote.

    I am not saying you are saying stupid and insipid things..I am saying that there are plenty of men, that I have encountered, who have said wildly inappropraite things–comparable to your anecdote–and yet, I don’t consider them to be an indicator of what Christian men think and are.

  12. A few things:

    1) Regarding WebMonk’s comment: The impression I got was that *unbelieving women* were willing to buy *and read* the book. And unfortunately, (regardless of their reasons for buying) there’s nothing of real Christian substance in it that would in any way confront them or benefit them in their unbelieving situation.

    2) Similar to what WebMonk addressed, but this time NOT regarding women… My boss told me a couple months ago that he saw some “Christian guy” on TV that wasn’t so bad to listen to (he was just channel flipping, but stopped for a few minutes to listen), but he couldn’t remember his name. “Joel Osteen?” I said. And he affirmed that it was him, “Yeah, I could listen to preaching like that.” And this is coming from a guy who tolerates Christians for the most part, but who can’t stand Christianity as a worldview (read: superstition). He’s a good boss, but he takes his cheap shots at Jesus and Christendom when he can. But not Joel Osteen. That tells me something.

    3) If we’re going to hebraicize names here, it would be something like Yeshua ben Yosef. Yudah is “Judah”.

    4) Osteen supporters: I haven’t read Osteen (but I have read the transcript of at least one interview). But follow me here, please:

    a) Motivational Speaker-talk plus Scripture quoted out of context does NOT equal Christianity NOR does it involve Christian principles, per se.

    b) Following Osteen’s principles will not necessarily lead to the success that he promotes. I would not say that he’s offering “hope”. I would say that he’s telling us to trust in fallible principles–principles that often depend on factors beyond our control.

    Jesus is the only sure hope. Lord have Mercy– on us AND Joel.

  13. So if four Protestants declare each other heretics, who wins?

    I just never can understand this dynamic.

    Honestly, in the Protestant worldview what gives one person to declare his personal interpretation of Scripture more authoritative or accurate than another person’s interprestation of Scripture?

    Isn’t that what it’s all about?

    An honest, honest question.

  14. Get set for a repeat….Mr Happy aka the Plastic Ken Doll will be on Glenn Beck’s CNN show on Wednesday.

  15. I can certainly agree that measured by the biblical writers, Joel Osteen doesn’t preach from a truly biblical and balanced perspective.

    But I think a lot of damage to the name of Christ also accrues when the uptight and offended orthodox start turning up their nose, esp. on TV.

    I don’t think it was the wisest thing for Horton to get up there and appear as the dour, sour, jealous uptight and smug inquisitor of Joel Osteen.

    And much of the critique on this thread goes beyond helpful and becomes self-serving mud slinging. If you disagree with the man, just lay out the facts and leave it there. No need to drag the guy through the mud in that type of spirit. You needlessly open yourself up to critique yourself, ie, ‘oh, you want to get that personal? Well, let’s trump you up on 60 minutes and examine your failings.’ Just point out where the man’s teaching falls short and say goodnight. Anything more is just a bunch of gas.


  16. Thanks for your contributions. This thread is closed.


  17. Report from the frontlines as of last weekend:

    I was in a Wal-Mart picking up a replacement toaster when I encountered a HUGE display of Osteen’s book in the impulse-shopping position next to the store entrance. The exact same book cover and Osteen portrait shown on the top of this thread, multiplied by at least a dozen stacks in the book display.

    The only thing I can compare it to is the cinematography of Enemy at the Gates, where every shot included somewhere in-frame an Idealized poster of Heroic Comrade Stalin.


  18. Seriously – can anybody cite where anything less than recognition of one’s complete and utter depravity and inability to save themselves as the birthing point of salvation? — Joseph

    Beware, Joseph, lest “complete and utter depravity” become Worm Theology which defeats the purpose of the Incarnation. I had “utter depravity”/Worm Theology inflicted on me 30 years ago, and the scars are still there. Worm Theology is as likely to lead you to suicide as it is to Salvation.

  19. Seriously – can anybody cite where anything less than recognition of one’s complete and utter depravity and inability to save themselves as the birthing point of salvation? — Joseph

    You don’t need to believe in the unscriptural doctrines of inherited guilt and total depravity to be saved. In fact they are an hindrance to saving faith. You must, however, realize that doing good now doesn’t erase your past sins. Tell the truth every day from now on — it still won’t erase the lie you told yesterday. Never sin again — it won’t erase the sins you already committed. You must come to a realization that only the blood of Jesus can erase past sins. Then you must accept his sacrifice in the way that God commands, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2.38

  20. NO question Joel is very inspirational and a great motivational speaker. I would say he’s a Tony Robbins on the alter. And if you understand that going in to see him – then I guess that’s ok. But my fear is I do not believe everyone understands that he is really just a motivator and gives little in terms of correct biblical ministering.

    While his “positive only” message is great I do not believe you can talk about spending eternity in heaven without talking about sin and redemption. The New Testament clearly talks about righteousness and being sorry and repenting for your sins – NONE of which Joel talks about. He doesn’t use the word “sin”. He said it while on Larry King – it’s not in his vocabulary. I also have a problem with his “prosperity-only gospel”. Joel’s actual quote is “I think God wants us to be prosperous. I think he wants us to be happy. He wants us to be successful in our careers”. Joel – is that really the underlying theme of Jesus teaching to the Apostles?? Does God really want us to climb up that corporate ladder and get all those promotions to make more money? To become more successful?? I know many many individuals that became very, very successful in their careers – and you know what – most of them had their marriage and personal life fall apart – you know why – they were to busy managing their careers than tending to their family. Have you EVER heard anyone on their death bed say – “Gee – I wish I spent more time at the office”?

    Lets say your time on earth is represented by a ONE grain of sand. And lets also say your time after-earth (eternity) is represented by ALL THE REST OF THE SANDY beaches on earth (think about how many grains of sand that is for a moment). Joel preaches about how to happy and “be prosperous” during that one grain of sand time-frame but preaches nothing about how to make sure the time spent for eternity (all the remaining grains of sand) is spent in heaven. You see – he talks nothing about internal salvation and repenting for ones sins. Doesn’t it make more sense to make sure you make it to heaven rather than “be happy” on earth??

    That is the problem I have with his teaching. I just don’t recall Jesus telling his disciples – “Go out and tell everyone how to be happy and prosperous”. The underling theme of all Jesus preached was how to have internal salvation and to save your soul so you can spend eternity in heaven. Now do you understand why some may be taken back by Joel main theme – pray to be prosperous and be happy? That is not the main message of Jesus – period – end of story.

    Is God really only about praying till you get that better job, praying to you get that bigger house, praying till you become more successful in your career, pray to be more prosperous, pray till you get more money??? I don’t think so!! Positive messages are great but you better realize you are 100% accountable for your sins on earth and all of us are going to come before our maker some day. God will not ask you: Were you happy on earth? Did you have a successful career? Were you prosperous? No – you will have to answer for all your sins on earth and explain what you did for the last of your brothers. How we answer those question will determine where you spend eternity.

  21. Teri,

    Your defensive tone is both annoying and reminiscent of Helen Reddy’s song ” I am woman”. Just accept the fact that MANY women watch Joel Osteen because he’s good looking. No one said that all women in general do so.

  22. We hope our ministry’s teaching on Osteen’s mile wide and inch deep fluff that is being passed as lifechanging truth can be of further aid to you in discerning it. It is in Real Audio and we have a link here for you on it ..


    godspeed .. sola deo Gloria ..


    rafael martinez
    spiritwatch ministries

  23. I feel that Joel does not want to get dirty. He presents people with this hyper-optimistic view of themselves and places value in things that are not eternal. The truth of the Gospel is that we are dirty filthy -(totally depraved)people who need a savior. God’s wrath had to be satisfied because of sin…that is the sin of Adam that was passed down to all of mankind. Joel doesnt address sin and therefore cannot fully address the beauty of the cross. The rugged, bloody, hard cross of Jesus carried the sins of the world. Through the cross full redemption and justification was achieved; thats hope! Not the temporary fleeting nature of cars, money, houses, and just being happy all of the time. The hope of the Gospel is that Jesus grants a life abundantly passed all this (stuff)materialism. The cross is both beautiful and offensive. Joel undermines the beauty of the cross because he fails to address what it earned. Real hope is knowing that because of Jesus my home is not on earth, but in heaven. Derek Webb-“if your sin is great, your savior is great! but if your sin is small your savior and the cross is small” Eph. 2:8 for it is by grace that you’re saved, and this not of yourselves so that no MAN can boast, it is the gift of God.

  24. Oh by the way, he doesnt motivate me at all! I think that he allows me to focus so much on me that its depressing because I fail myself at times. But the fact of the matter is that when I can focus on the giver of life, lover of my soul-Jesus I find true hope

  25. Jesus,Paul, and the Apostle John spoke about the dangers of false prophets. We should follow their example. Does Joel Osteen’s message compare to the message in Scripture? Because believe it or not that is the standard (The Bible). Lest we forget. Jealosy is not the issue here. The issue here is the countless souls that are not hearing the true gospel message. They are deceived into thinking that they need to “feel good”, when they need to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
    And by the way, 1 Tim 3 gives the quallifications for the “man of God” and two of them stick out for me. First of all, he should be able to teach(and he does not teach from the Bible) and second, he should not be greedy for filthy lucre(how much money is enough). To me, that disqualifies Joel Osteen.

  26. I have been changed by this “faith” message. I have no degree other than a high school diploma, so I am sure this may seem to be a simple reply:
    the websters college dictionary say’s that prosperity is 1. sucess 2.a period of economic well being 3. state of good fortune.
    By embracing this gospel I am very rich.
    A small business owner mother of 3 and wife of a wonderful husband of 21 years. We are very rich and prosperous. Even though we earned 50K last year. My point is this message is about the gospel, Strongs meaning “the good news” Not about how much you have in the bank. Even though we enjoy being debt free, who the Son sets free shall be free indeed.
    I would like to close with the gospel it speaks for it’s self. Beloved I wish above all things that you would prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers 3John 1:2. I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly John 10:10 If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him? Matt 7:11 Do not touch God’s anointed. Do my prophets no harm. Psalms 105:15
    Keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against (Joel’s)good behavior in Chris may be ashamed of their SLANDER.

  27. The funny thing is I had no idea about who Joel Osteen was until I heard about him on i-monk. I generally pay no attention whatsoever to those who fall into the categroy of “evangelist”.
    Then I happened to see a book on my assistant’s desk, and just vaguely thought the name was familiar so I glanced again.
    JOEL OSTEEN. Hmmm..I had heard that before…. then I mentioned the name to my cousin and husband…seemslike they had heard of him also!

    Got on Youtube last week and have been watching everything on the guy. The sheer volume of his audiences is really amazing to me but I am not familiar with mega churches in general, being from NYC.

    Obviously the guy is hitting a nerve in the
    collectibe conscious. Translation: People love him. why do we always kill the messenger? If his message did not resonate with people on some level, he would have NO ONE in his stadium. Obviously, people are hungry for his message. People are hungry for possitivity, for affirmation, for speech that is uplifting and loving.
    I heard a very moving podcast of Onsteen’s called, “Be loving toward yourself”. No mention was made of money or prosperity. But it really cut to the core about self-love. in listenign to it hey, I realized that I needed some of what he said.

    Perhaps for many of his followers, Onsteen is just a piece of their overall spiritual journey. Looking at things positively has helped me a great deal in my journey over the last few years, I know that. The lens though which I previously looked at life was really negative. Now I really trust God, (ok not always but trying) and believe that he supports me no matter what I “see” in the physical. Now, I did not get THAT from the RC church or 16 years of catholic education. I got that from the “new agers” which some people on this list judge and criticize so harshly.

    I cannot judge at the moment if Osteen is
    some greedy slick bastard or if he really loves what he does and wantes to help people. Right now I am just watching the movement, the zeitgeist.

    One other thing and I shall end this tome… and this is just from my own personal experience…I have learned and been uplifted by the bible quotes he uses, and I have heard only a modicum of his material. In this way, I have heard the word of God and been brought closer to it.

  28. My input is that everyone has the right to believe or feel the way they want, remember this is America. With that, it doesn’ matter to me what any of you think about Joel Osteen, whether you are a Christian, Theologian, or whatever. The bottom line ‘for me’ is that out of all the ministers i have ever listened to in my life, Joel Osteen is the first preacher ever that i feel excited to listen too and I recieve a christian heart felt message that applies to my everyday life. If preachers would stop preaching about the old days (BC) boring, and begin preaching about today, maybe more people would start attending chruches and want to give back to churhes. Joel Osteen defintiley is not even paid enough for the great work he does every week.

    Love Ya Joel! Keep doing what you are doing, there will always be critics when you are doing something great, i think you are ‘outstanding’.


  29. Who cares if he preaches the Bible messages or not. Perhaps the gospel’s messages are too old and stale and need a new interpretation; after all God hasn’t spoken again. I like to hear Osteen’s messages of hope and hard work because he propels you to look inside yourself and fix things up; don’t wait for God to do it for you; take charge, take responsibility and move on. The Gospels appeal to the poor or anyone that is not satisfy with life because they offer hope, but I never see Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or the like needing or looking for gospel messages. I like Osteen’s new hope. I don’t have to feel guilty for wanting something better for my family or myself. Osteen is not preaching envy and jealousy, but hard work and desire to conquer the barriers to carry you or me to the next level. It’s a new message of giving our gift “purpose” here on earth. Don’t wait for resurrection or eternal life, give it now. We don’t have any warranties that we’ll make it to the “eternal life” if any. Personally, I’m tired of others having what I desire and need the most while waiting for “things to get better with eternal life.” God left us his words; it’s up to us to make them work for as long as we need them. We shut down God every time we divert from our true purpose – the gift He sent us to experiment LIFE. Live and allow others to live – help others to live as well. Fill HIS purpose and you will feel GOD inside you like never before.

  30. God left us his words; it’s up to us to make them work for as long as we need them. We shut down God every time we divert from our true purpose – the gift He sent us to experiment LIFE. Live and allow others to live – help others to live as well. Fill HIS purpose and you will feel GOD inside

    God gave us His Son, His Holy Spirit, and Himself..not to use for whatever works best for us..but for a wonderful and awesome eternal relationship.. Vicki..if you do come back here, I want you to know there is so much more past RIGHT NOW.. eternal life is guaranteed in Christ Jesus, but Joel doesn’t tell you that…

    I pray that you will find yourself in a place where you need the life giving blood of Christ and that you will be able to say Jesus is enough..

    God Bless

  31. “Perhaps the gospel’s messages are too old and stale and need a new interpretation”

    Yikes. Vicki, I can only pray that one day you will understand why you need Jesus as your Lord and Savior, that His message was not to make you feel bad or better, but to direct in how to truly live a life that is reflective of the Father.

  32. Jeff,

    wow..I never checked back on this comment thread to find your comparison of me to Helen Reddy. How that has anything to do with my actual point is beyond me.

    But thanks for the kind reminder that it must be all in my head. I’ll be sure to remember that when I listen to Reddy next time.