January 15, 2021

Remember Osteen? Al Mohler Speaks Up

wolf4sheep.jpgUPDATE: Dr. Mohler posted on Osteen in June of ’05. Thanks for the correction.

More than a year after this blog called for the “outing” of Joel Osteen as a motivational speaker pretending to be a Christian pastor, Al Mohler raises questions about Osteen. I say “amen,” and hope many other evangelicals take the time to look at the information I gathered in this post and decide for themselves what Osteen is and is not.

Read the 190 comments for a taste of Osteen loyalists and their ready admission that their guy doesn’t talk about the Gospel, but that’s OK.

Read: “Outing Joel Osteen: A Challenge To The Evangelical Blogosphere.”

NOTE: Here is Osteen telling Harry Smith that he is continuing the mission of Norman V. Peale.

Smith compared Osteen’s preaching to Norman Vincent Peale’s, and Osteen agreed.

“It’s amazing,” Osteen said. “I was preaching two or three years when someone gave me one of his books. I was going to say, ‘He thinks like me.’ I think like him. It seems like it’s the same base there. God is on our side and if you think right, I believe, like Norman Vincent Peale did, that your life follows your thoughts. You get up negative, oppressive, you’re day will go that way.”


  1. I’ll be frank, Michael, Mohler completely wimps out in his posting about Osteen. Moreover, the way he wimps out here points to some serious deficiencies about Mohler’s life and doctrine.

    Mohler IS NOT CRITICAL OF OSTEEN IN HIS BLOG. It depends upon who is reading it.

    I’ve written a very critical article at my blog about this:


    Mohler thinks alcohol is evil and that torture is okay. Now he thinks that prosperity theology isn’t all that bad.

  2. Well I was being extra charitable, but you are right on. It’s the same with Warren. Narry a word from this corner about him.

  3. In fairness to Dr. Mohler…

    If you’re a regular reader of his blog, you’ll note that virtually all of them are short, single-page “take a moment to think about this” commentaries. They’re pretty much an excerpt of semi-scripted portions of his radio program, and intended to get you think a bit more about the subject and to listen to the program. In their present form, they’re hardly the vehicle for a point-by-point theological debunking of Osteen.

    That said, I think the series of questions Mohler raises at the end of his short piece gives the impression that if one regularly applies these filters to Osteen’s content, that Osteen will definitively come up short. Mohler’s intent here, it seems to me, is to get you to think, not tell you what to think.


  4. “Mohler’s intent here, it seems to me, is to get you to think, not tell you what to think.”

    Considering the fact that he tells you what to think in every other post he makes, I find this statement very difficult to believe.

    Mohler is explicit in virtually every opinion he gives. But not this one. Why? Maybe because Osteen supports FOTF, which Mohler is part of.

    Please make time to read my blog posting as it will explain my position further.

  5. I think Mohler has become more moderated in his attacks. At least, who he attacks.
    He has matured into a real political player, and when you do that, you have to choose your battles more carefully.

    Mohler usually sticks to the undisputed safe bets , like openness theology, stem cell stuff, abortion, torturing terrorists. Topics where you know your base (upper middle class, white, Southern Baptists)is behind you. Osteen and Warren are in the gray zone.

  6. Salient,

    I did a bit of looking back on other things Dr. Mohler has written on Joel Osteen, and came up with the following from last summer:

    “I have avoided mention of Mr. Osteen thus far. His church claims to have over 30,000 in weekly attendance and he has an expanding base of operations and growing influence. He obviously means well and loves to help people. His message of smiling affirmation is well received by thousands who come to his church and by millions more who watch him on television and read his books. But affirmation and encouragement, devoid of biblical content and context, will quickly turn into a message leading “from death to death” (2 Corinthians 3:16). In contrast, the Gospel leads “from life to life,” telling us the truth about ourselves and pointing us to Christ for our salvation. We must encourage persons to believe in Christ, to repent of their sins, to trust in Christ alone, and to live for God’s glory. Anything less is an encouragement to eternal disaster.”
    (from: http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=136 )

    While this does not go to a point-by-point refutation of Osteen’s theology (again, that’s not Mohler’s style in his short daily blogs), I do think it gets to the ultimate point on Osteen’s content: “sincerity does not equal salvation.”

    I’m not sure why you want to believe that Dr. Mohler is somehow just a toady for FOTF, and that fear of Osteen’s “followers” would do to Focus would ever be a motivator for what Dr. Mohler might or might not say. Sure he’s a Focus board member, but so are a lot of other people: pastors, bankers, ex-congressmen, financial experts, etc. I doubt seriously there’s anything like the conspiracy of fear you envision.


  7. I just read Mohler’s 2005 article.

    The article is written in a strange style, as though Mohler is sitting there with his brows furrowed and saying “I’m a little confused by this”.

    Look, I’m an English teacher. I can tell when people are being clear and I can tell when people are being opaque – you just look at the language used.

    When it comes to moral and spiritual issues that resonate with his audience, Mohler is clear, staight to the point and unambiguous. He’s not doing that in either article.

    I didn’t use the word conspiracy. It’s just a matter of someone high up in FOTF having a quiet word to Mohler and saying “Just tone it down. Osteen and others are not the real enemy. The last thing we need is less support from these people”.

    If Mohler sincerely believes, as I do and as Michael Spencer, does, that Joel Osteen is a serious problem within the evangelical church, then he should come out and say it clearly and plainly. Both the recent post and the June 2005 article are not clear at all in their “condemnation” of Osteen’s teachings.

    All he needed was to say “Joel Osteen is not teaching the truth. Avoid his teaching at all costs. Do not buy his books or watch his TV show.”

    Why won’t he say that?

  8. And Zoomie you forgot to mention that Mohler posted a follow-up to the June 2005 article in question:


    Mohler has nothing but praise for the guy. In fact, virtually everything he complains about on the June 24 2005 post is atoned for in his June 25 post.

    Any comments?

  9. OSO, you are so on target. It is simply a mystery why Osteen is treated with kid gloves. There is, however, a remarkable silence regarding Osteen among leading evangelicals. Change the name with N.V. Peale and I wonder if the same treatment would be forthcoming.

  10. Salient –

    I will admit that Dr. Mohler’s blog comments don’t go deeply enough. But as I reread his comments in all three of his posts, I noted that he was keeping his remarks to the substance of the TV interview in one case and to the newspaper article in the other. Certainly much narrower than the larger issue of Osteen’s theology (or lack of it), but perhaps that wasn’t his intent in either case.

    Should he come out with a broader critique of Osteen and his ilk? Given Mohler’s influence through the airwaves and on the speaking circuit, not to mention as an academic, I think he would be well advised to do so. Personally, Osteen’s “fence-mending” seems a bit “too little, too late.”

    However, Mohler’s blog remains a short-form skimming of subjects as a hook to get people to listen to his radio program, and little more than that. As he doesn’t allow feedback remarks on the blog, it seems pretty apparent that’s his intent.


  11. I don’t know if “speaks up” is the right description of what Dr. Mohler did in his piece. More like “asks a rhetorical question.”

    I don’t know about the “remarkable silence regarding Osteen” among leading evangelicals. I agree there’s a remarkable silence among public evangelicals. Most of the evangelicals I know think of Osteen as a lightweight prosperity-gospel type of guy, and they don’t watch his show or read his book. They have better things to do with their lives and ministries. Honestly, so do I. When people I disciple ask me about him I say, “Don’t waste your time,” and that’s as far as we go.

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