October 24, 2020

The Osteen Review 90% of Evangelicals Won’t Write

Other Osteen posts here at IM: Osteen Redux, The Mystery of Joel Osteen, Outing Joel Osteen.

Newsweek reviews Victoria Osteen’s new book. Thank God for Newsweek’s willingness to say what 90% of evangelicals won’t say.

With that story, Victoria unconsciously articulates the problem so many outsiders have with Joel and, by extension, with her. Joel Osteen is one of the most popular pastors in the country, but both he and Victoria seem, from the outside at least, to be spiritual midgets. More than 40,000 people come to hear them preach each week in a sanctuary that used to be the home of the Houston Rockets. Millions more watch them on television. Joel’s books are best sellers, and Victoria’s new one, though arriving in stores this week, is already high on Amazon’s spiritual book list. But the theology driving all this success is thin. Over and over, in sermons, books and television interviews, the Osteens repeat their most firmly held beliefs. If you pray to Jesus, you’ll get what you want.

And people actually ask me why I’m a “post-evangelical.” What planet are you on?

Comments

  1. It amazes me that as the camera covers the “crowd” that just about everyone seems to be writing/taking notes as if…as if what: the voice of God was speaking? I admit freely that I don’t get it, but it sure sells.

  2. Unfortunately, the Newsweek comments will probably be perceived as unjust criticism by Osteen disciples and only provide additional fuel for the onward and upward couple. But, it needed to be said. It is sad that political correctness prevents the church from leveling legitimate criticism when it is needed, and with this couple, surely this needed to be said.
    Mike

  3. I’m impressed. I’ve been frustrated with Joel for some time, but I think it’s in most seminarians’ DNA to be so. I try not to be offended when my church members watch or reference him, but in so many ways, he represents an alternative Christianity to what I’m trying to teach. It’s just too bad most laypeople who are interested in Joel and Victoria won’t see this review. We’ll have to wait for them to figure it out on their own.

  4. While watching the movie “Portrait Of Dorian Gray”, the cynical character played by George Saunders says “Women treat men as we treat our gods: they worship us and then pester us for favors.”

    As I heard this I remember pestering God for a job. We need a good balance in knowing what God does for us.

  5. I’m on a planet where most of the evangelicals I know would say the very same thing: the Osteens are spiritual midgets, and the large numbers at Lakewood Church are not because there they feel no condemnation in Christ Jesus, but because the attendees can have spirituality without repentance, God’s favor without obedience, and testimonials of gushing fans rather than testimonies of transformed saints.

    I don’t really hang out with the other kind of evangelical. We’re too busy seeking and preaching to the lost to hang out with them in their country clubs.

  6. I don’t defend Joel Osteen, but I don’t criticize him too heavily either. He is bringing people into church that otherwise wouldn’t come into church. He is reaching a group that would otherwise probably not be reached. I wholeheartedly agree that some of the things he teaches are problematic and he seems more like a self-help guru than a pastor, but he has good intentions…

    I know that intentions aren’t everything, but they should count for something.

  7. Danny:

    With all due repect, Osteen is preaching a false gospel- a lie- representing it as the true Gospel, turning millions OFF of the truth (Name one Osteen disciple who is now a sound Christian who repudiates the prosperity lie) and is setting the table for a further humiliation of the Gospel in America. Millions will be in hell because of Osteen.

    He is the very definition of a wolf in Sheep’s clothing.

    Osteen is a disciple of Norman Vincent Peale. It’s in his interview with Harry Smith on CBS. That’s mind science. Not Christianity. He has no use for the cross and he hates the Gospel that puts the cross, repentance and discipleship at the center.

    peace

    MS

  8. Danny

    What is the point of getting people into church if there is no gospel. Just getting large numbers into a church is meaningless. We may as well show pride that some stadium, arena, movie theatre etc gets big crowds. It has nothing to do with Christianity.

  9. Indeed. The Osteens could remove all references to
    scripture and it wouldn’t change their message one bit.

    They sprinkle scripture verses on top like sugar in order to manipulate their audience.

  10. Here’s the Harry Smith interview with the NVP content:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/10/21/earlyshow/leisure/books/main961627.shtml

  11. Some people do leave the prosperity gospel behind. I embarrassed myself* in front of a friend’s father (whom I liked very much) saying something to that effect – “the prosperity gospel people never seem to make it out of that false teaching” – and he admitted that he’d come to believe in Jesus through the prosperity teachers. He wasn’t ashamed or proud of it; it was a stepping stone for him in his discipleship.

    *still embarrassed off that one.

  12. O.K guys…lighten up…be nice…judge not….get the log out of your own eyes…do good for evil…say only the things that edify, and so forth ::teddy bear hug::.

    I clearly see the point. But…God’s ways are not man’s way….and so forth. I benefit from the ‘kind’ tone of Joel’s television services when I rarely happen across one. I relate because I am ardently positive minded… think on the good-lovely-kind… see only the good… expect only the best, love the unlovable, and through faith….I see the present…as well as the end of all things ….in glorious LIFE over death.

    I DO SEE YOUR POINT and I do understand that when God said, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you. You can ask what you will and it shall be done for them of my Father,”……that He did not mean wood, stubble, and hay…or material things. But I do truly believe that God’s truth is so massive that He would likely use many, many personalities to reach the reachable lost. I think…God only can judge the success of a ministry. If a called minister reaches those God purposed him to reach…even though that number may be small……then before God…he is successful. Sometimes kindness reaches out where damnation sermons may not.

    Don’t rebuke me (ha)..love you all…love your comments.

  13. Danny,

    The first time I heard Osteen speak all I could think of was how much it sounded no different than sitting in a presentation by Jim Rohn, Mark Victor Hansen, Tony Robbins or Zig Ziglar.

    Jesus promised that our needs would be filled. He also promised that we would suffer in the life because we honor him.

    Osteen’s promise is that all are want’s will be filled if we honor God and if we suffer it’s because we are in some way not honoring him.

  14. Judge not?

    As a minister of the Gospel I am commanded by God to point out men like Osteen. His false Gospel can’t be ignored by a person who is a true shepherd. Read what Osteen says in his interviews.

    His “niceness” will put millions into eternal judgment.

    MS

  15. Sadly, I have to agree with iMonk, Carolyn. Jesus commands (and his commands are expounded especially by Paul and John) to remove the plank in our eye and the speck from our brothers’. In other words, we are provided with a moral standard, the Bible, which is “God-breathed, fit for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training” (2 Tim 3:16.) Notice that 2 of the 4 verbs there are ‘negative,’ ‘judgmental’ verbs. As pastors, it is burdensome to attempt to call to our sheep as under-shepherds, when the false shepherds are yelling so loudly for their attention.

  16. man, that Joel book cover is incredibly disturbing. I can’t quit looking at it.

  17. Just the fact that my atheistic/agnostic boss (who makes fun of Christian beliefs from time to time– in my presence, no less) says he’s heard Joel when flipping channels and says he’s pretty good and could listen to a preacher whose message sounds like that.

    That’s evidence enough for me to know that Joel has nothing significantly ‘Christian’ in content.

  18. When you say that the Osteens are one of the reasons you are “post-evangelical,” do you mean that they are supposedly evangelical? Or do you mean that evangelical reluctance to confront the Osteen doctrine is why you are post? Just curious.

  19. By the numbers and the rhetoric, the Osteens are evangelicalism. Largest congregation. Largest book sales. And the guy says he doesn’t want to mention sin or the cross because it’s “negative.”

    Post evangelicals reach back into broader, deeper, more ancient church to find what evangelicalism has abandoned, thrown out or neglected. We say “No” to what evangelicalism has become in order to say Yes to what evangelicalism might become.

  20. Last night, I watched the PBS series, “Secrets of the Dead”. Interestingly enough (in time for Reformation Sunday) the episode was entitled, “Battle for the Bible”, which focused on the development of the English bible before and during the reformation. It seemed to be a very fair and accurate presentation.

    One point of the show was that giving the bible to the people took away the “magic” powers of the clergy.

    What should alarm Christians is that Osteen is a departure from the scriptures that Wycliff, Tyndale, Cranmer, Huss, Luther, and others dedicated (and sacrificed) their lives to give to the people. To me, it is also a return to the days of clergy manipulating the masses with secrets and magic. The prosperty gospel is also a return to the selling of indulgences: give us money, and God will bless you (i.e. get you out of financial purgatory).

    Many happy returns on this Reformation Sunday. God help us all.

    I highly recommend this episode of “Secrets of the Dead”. They tend to run the same shows several times per year, so there should be other chances to see it.

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/previous_seasons/case_bible/index.html

  21. Amen. It’s law. It’s magic. It’s indulgences and it’s the perfect recipe for the unbeliever to believe that God wants to do nice things for him in the midst of his sin.

    It’s the non-Gospel every way you look at it. Screwtape is delighted- and stuffed full- courtesy of Mr. Osteen.

  22. I must hang around odd evangelicals – as I’ve never known one to like the guy. The “kindness” comes across as creepy to me.

  23. And the guy says he doesn’t want to mention sin or the cross because it’s “negative.

    Is that true? Did he really say that?

    I know the imonk doesn’t like Osteen and have a hard time figuring out why Osteen, in particular, always incurs the imonk’s deadliest wrath….as opposed to so many other probable subjects.

    Is that quote why?

  24. Setting the prosperity gospel aside for the moment(and all the inherent theological baggage that comes with it)…..

    For crying out loud, OSTEEN’S MINISTRY “LOGO” IS A GLOBE!!!! I find this incredible and disturbing. By boldly displaying the globe in favor of a cross is a clear message that Osteen is not only “in this world”, but is “OF THIS WORLD”. Be afraid, be very afraid.

    Kind of makes you wonder “What does he take us for?”

  25. Wow, iMonk, I never knew you had so much vituperation in you!

    I’m not a defender of Osteen, but to say “Millions will be in hell because of Osteen” is a bit much. People who go to hell will do so because of their own sin, and not “because” of Osteen.

    “He is the very definition of a wolf in Sheep’s clothing.”

    Be careful. You just don’t know that. It’s very dangerous to assume you know that a person is a false Christian teacher. Perhaps Osteen has what the Bible calls the gift of encouragement. It may be shallow, but it is not evil. I have occasionally listened to Osteen, and have heard him talk joyfully about the power of Christ’s death on the cross, and the victory of Christ through His resurrection. That does not sound like a wolf to me.

    “Osteen is a disciple of Norman Vincent Peale.”

    Here is what Billy Graham said about Peale:
    “I don’t know of anyone who had done more for the kingdom of God than Norman and Ruth Peale or have meant anymore in my life for the encouragement they have given me.” Was Graham wrong? Was he speaking of a false teacher?

    If you have a moment, it’s worth reading what Peter Berger wrote about the prosperity gospel here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122479455028963963.html

    I do not follow the prosperity gospel, and I would certainly not recommend it. But it’s not for me (or us) to say that God can’t use it in His own way. The name of Jesus is very powerful, and even if people come to Him for the wrong reasons, He can still save them.

  26. Treebeard:

    I normally don’t allow pro-Osteen comments of this type, because I have to fight the battle of the Prosperity cancer every day with students from Africa and the U.S., but others need to see the kind of attitude toward Osteen that I am pointing out in this post.

    Osteen’s message is anti-Gospel, anti-Cross and apostate. He’s a motivational speaker. Norman Vincent Peale, likewise, was a mind science guru and presented a false, damning Gospel.

    Osteen’s message, if believed, is not the Gospel of Jesus or the New Testament.

    You can tell the sheep to have a drink, and not to believe it’s poison. I’ll warn the sheep that Osteen is a wolf, a money-lover who despises the cross and who lies about the God of the Bible.

    Find me whatever you want. I don’t have to answer to you on this one. Your post is an illustration of why we need Newsweek to do our discernment for us.

    And is Peter Berger evaluating the Prosperity gospel Biblically? No, so whatever sociological points he wants to make, the Gospel for gain is a lie.

    MS

  27. It’s very dangerous to assume you know that a person is a false Christian teacher.

    Ummm…I think I read somewhere that you will know them by their fruits.

  28. >It’s very dangerous to assume you know that a person is a false Christian teacher.

    When you can get me absolved of my stated responsibilities as outlined in Jude, I/II Timothy, Rev 2-3 and the Gospels, I’ll cease. Why did Jesus believe the churches in Revelation should have known the false teachers in their midst? Why does Paul say he’s amazed the Galatians haven’t spotted the false Gospel? What do we do with all those passages on discernment that are specifically applied to false teachers?

  29. Weren’t we warned about tickled ears? The defense I have heard is that the gospel is covered in the small group classes. How does that help the TV crowd? Sunday school would have to spend a lot of time “unteaching” the blab it and grab it sermon.

  30. Yes, exactly. Give a Christless Gospel to the whole planet, including in your books, podcasts, etc and then reveal the big secret in a class at your church.

    What kind of person is EMBARASSED/ASHAMED to preach Christ? The kind Jesus will disown at the judgment. He said that, I didn’t. If you are ashamed of me and my words, etc. How much plainer can the Bible be?

  31. So was Billy Graham wrong about Norman Vincent Peale? Did Graham lack discernment in that case? (I say this as someone who knows and cares little about Peale.)

    I certainly don’t want to argue with you. I love your blog and have received tremendous help from it. It’s clear to me that the prosperity gospel is an issue you take very personally because you are on the front lines confronting it. My experience of it is minimal, and comes from observing it by watching the occasional TV show or by reading articles like the one from Newsweek. So I’ll acknowledge that you have paid a price in confronting Osteen’s teachings that I never have.

    But I would simply say that I have heard Osteen talk about the cross of Christ in his messages, and to me this means calling him a “false teacher” may be going too far. The verses that you and others mention from the New Testament about discernment etc. are mainly referring to law-keepers and Judaizers who denied the efficacy of the cross of Christ and who insisted that works or religious traditions were necessary to please God. I have never heard Osteen say such a thing. (Admittedly, I don’t watch him often.) At the very least, he invites viewers to pray the “sinner’s prayer” at the end of his programs. How does that send people to hell?

    You know much more about him than I do, so I’ll leave it at that. No hard feelings. May you continue fighting for the truth. Much grace be with you.

  32. Sorry, one more point. A commenter likened Osteen to Zig Ziglar. I know of someone who came to Christ through Ziglar. What’s wrong with that?

  33. The other day I was riding the bus and having a conversation with the bus driver. He knows I’m in seminary, and always asks me theological questions. He asked me if I knew about Lakewood Church and Joel Osteen. He told me he watches him sometimes on TV, and this is what he said he liked about Osteen:

    -He doesn’t talk about Jesus the Son of God
    -He doesn’t talk about dying for your sin or the cross
    -He doesn’t talk about Jesus is Lord, etc.

    If this is what attracts someone to a preacher, than how can they be anything but a false teacher?

    Sad and disturbing.

  34. urban otter says

    “I know the imonk doesn’t like Osteen and have a hard time figuring out why Osteen, in particular, always incurs the imonk’s deadliest wrath….as opposed to so many other probable subjects.”

    Maybe Osteen sets the iMonk off because he is a deceptively innocuous-looking smarmy liar. That’s my theory anyway.

    It surprises me that so many people can’t tell the difference between what Osteen teaches and what Christ teaches. From either a Catholic or historic Protestant understanding of the gospel, Osteen is selling spiritual death.

    There is no doubt that God can and does work in mysterious ways, even through false preachers, but this in no way excuses Osteen or his apologists.

    No, the alleged numbers of converts attributed to Osteen do not offset his false teaching. We do not get to countenance evil in the hopes that good might result.

  35. “O.K guys…lighten up…be nice…judge not….get the log out of your own eyes…do good for evil…say only the things that edify, and so forth ::teddy bear hug::.”

    I happen to be a very peaceful person, also one who tends to shy away from conflict. but this is one of the problems with christians today- since when does love say that everything is permissible?
    I’m sorry, but you aren’t really loving someone when you allow them to believe falsehoods, or wreck their life, or whatever else it is they may be doing that they shouldn’t be doing. people who refuse to ever rebuke anyone, even when they should be rebuked, they are not being loving- they are being indifferent.

    and to those who seemingly have no problem with what joel osteen is preaching- have you ever read the beatitudes? or perhaps the part about jesus not having anywhere to lay his head? or maybe that other one in Luke 9:23-26 (just in case you haven’t) And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the son of man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

    I wonder, has joel osteen ever stared into the eyes of street children in india as they hold their hands outstretched through the window of the car? ….I wonder how much reassurance he could give them, i wonder how much self-help advice he could throw into their laps. Has his heart felt even an inch of the agony they go through every day? ….no, he is too busy trying to achieve a happy life.

    Here’s some food for thought:
    “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.” Ezekiel 16:49 & 50

    aren’t we supposed to learn history so that we don’t make the same mistakes?

    and to those who say that God is using what he is doing-well, i have my doubts in many of those cases- but also,since when is that a justification of the right of what you are doing? does God not use whom He chooses and what He chooses? God can use unbelievers, He can even take bad that was done and use that for good- isn’t that part of the whole “being-God-thing” ? just because God can use what he is doing, does not make what he is doing right.
    and beyond that, umm…. if you take a look at the Bible, and the people it claims followed God, the prophets who truly spoke his word, they were never very popular. typically they were persecuted, outcast, etc…. many of them were killed. hmmm…Jesus himself. so excuse me if I am a little suspicious of how someone claiming to preach the truth in this country could possibly become so popular.

    The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord : “Stand in the gate of the Lord ‘s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord , all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the Lord .”Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.”Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord , the temple of the Lord , the temple of the Lord .'”For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another,”if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm,”then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.”Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.”Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,”and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–only to go on doing all these abominations?”Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the Lord . -jeremiah 7:1-11

    “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied.”But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.”Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord , and not a God afar off?”Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord . Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord .”I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!'”How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart,”who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal?”Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord .”Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord , and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord , who steal my words from one another.”Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord , who use their tongues and declare, ‘declares the Lord .'”Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the Lord , and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the Lord . -jeremiah 23:21-32

    please go read these in their context.
    : ) they make even more sense then. although they probably won’t give you the warm-fuzzies.

  36. >It’s very dangerous to assume you know that a person is a false Christian teacher.

    I rather think it’s more dangerous to not know that a person is a false teacher. Your idea doesn’t hold up to scripture.

  37. “Joel Osteen has to be doing what God wants – God is obviously blessing his ministry.”
    Doesn’t this prove how foolish our standard for success in ministry is? How many ministry evaluation meetings have we sat through where we decided if God was “blessing” the ministry or not based on numbers?

  38. Billy Graham has my respect and admiration as a preacher, especially for the majority of his ministry, but his statements on discernment and the Gospel became increasingly undependable in his later ministry years, to the point of denying exclusive salvation by Christ which was the point of his entire ministry! Graham is a good man, and has preached the truth to millions, but in interviews, etc he has often gone very soft on issues of the truth vs error. (And I am not a Graham basher.)

    I’d like the name and number of any Osteen Sermon broadcast where the center of the message was Christ’s atonement for guilty sinners. The clip on the Driscoll You tube is all I’ve heard and I’ve listen to the guy at least 100x. He always tags a Jesus prayer on the end of his messages, but his messages aren’t about Jesus.

    Osteen doesn’t believe Jesus lived the best life or that the sermon on the mount describes the best life. His best life is a wealthy American life with health, big bucks, big cars, big houses, etc.

    People who wonder why I would call Osteen out need to explain to me why I wouldn’t call him out? Why are NEWSWEEK and CBS (see the Horton clip) calling him out?!?!

    You people that don’t fear the Prosperity cancer need to see what it is doing to your brothers and sisters in Africa. Shame on you for justifying in any way what is destroying millions of people and furthering Islam.

  39. iMonk, and those who have commented, I appreciate your views. Again, I’m not a defender of Osteen although it probably sounds like I am.
    But I’ll tell you what bothers me. This blog has often talked about how judgmental, narrow, and sectarian Christians can be. There have been recent posts (for example, Miracle on 34th Street) that suggest the Body of Christ is very large, and we should recognize that God can use other Christian leaders, other groups, other denominations, etc. It seems to me that there is a danger of deciding that one group (Osteen’s) is out of consideration. How is this different than those who say anyone who is not a Baptist isn’t really saved, or anyone who uses a Bible different than the KJV is using pseudo-Scripture?
    The Lord said that there would be wheat and tares growing in His kingdom. Maybe Osteen is genuinely a tare. But the Lord also said to let them grow together until the final harvest, and then things would be made clear. They look too much alike, and to uproot all the tares will inevitably kill some wheat as well.
    At the Judgment Seat of Christ, every idle word will be judged. I think that includes saying anyone is a false teacher, if God thinks otherwise. I’m not saying God does in Osteen’s case, I’m just saying that people on this blog may be a little too quick to stand in the place of the Lord in judging Osteen’s ministry.

  40. A true believer getting upset about someone telling the truth re: Osteen is rather troubling. It hints, at the least, of a serious discernment problem and, at the most, something much more serious.

    Thank you, Michael (iMonk), for being willing to speak the truth.

    Osteen is truly a cancer in the professing church (notice I did not say in the true church), as are Copeland, Meyer, Hagee, Hagin, Dollar, Price, Franklin, Hickey, Stone…and the list goes on.

    Osteen’s “talk” (doctrine) will continue to spread like gangrene until those who know better become willing to truly stand up and call him out for who/what he really is, or until those who listen to him are given ears to hear.

  41. Halleluiah and pass the repentance.

    Then again, another bite of an apple from Osteen’s tree would sure taste good – what can it possibly hurt? Surely we will not die.

  42. Jan Dillaha says

    Zig Ziglar is a Christian man who gives motivational messages and teaches business ethics. He does not pastor a church or pretend to call men to repent as a part of his speaking engagements. If people are saved because a Ziglar message I am sure he would rejoice, but I doubt that he writes his messages with that as an intention.

    Osteen is a man who didn’t want to pastor. His messages do not point to the cross, salvation or repentance. Osteen, in his infamous interview with Larry King, was not able to say that Christ’s work on the cross was the exclusive way for man to be reconciled to God. Osteen has repeatedly stated that talking about sin is a negative message. Osteen runs a social club that we allow him to call church. This is the fault of the Christian church, not Mr Osteen. Mr Osteen’s intentions are for people to feel good having heard him. He has been very clear about that.

    As for Mr Graham, he is a fallen man just like the rest of us. He has made his mistakes. We should not care what Mr Graham or Mr Osteen thinks of Norman Vincent Peale, but what they think and say about Jesus Christ.

  43. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    No, the alleged numbers of converts attributed to Osteen do not offset his false teaching. We do not get to countenance evil in the hopes that good might result. — Urban Otter

    The same defense was used by Mike Warnke’s fanboys when Warnke was exposed as a fraud: “But Lots of $ouls were being $aved!” (Warnke actually used it on his detractors: “How many Souls have YOU Saved?”

    Ditto for Jim & Tammy, Swaggart, and all the “God’s Anointeds” who went down in scandal.

    It surprises me that so many people can’t tell the difference between what Osteen teaches and what Christ teaches. — Urban Otter

    Because Osteen, like any con man, promises Goodies for Free. Name it and claim it, blab it and grab it — “MONEY FOR NOTHING! MONEY FOR NOTHING! MONEY FOR NOTHING!” He should use a Pyramid instead of a globe as his badge.

  44. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    People who wonder why I would call Osteen out need to explain to me why I wouldn’t call him out? Why are NEWSWEEK and CBS (see the Horton clip) calling him out?!?! — IMonk

    Because they’re not insider Christians, and therefore “Touch Not Mine Anointed!” doesn’t hold water with them. Remember when Cornerstone exposed Warnke as a fraud and the backlash that followed?

    You people that don’t fear the Prosperity cancer need to see what it is doing to your brothers and sisters in Africa. Shame on you for justifying in any way what is destroying millions of people and furthering Islam. — IMonk

    IMonk, this calls for a dedicated post or or two (or even a short series), like you’ve done on Heaven and Wretched Urgency.

    Tell us in detail what you’ve been up against dealing with “The Prosperity Cancer”. (Especially because it looks like there’s some hard times ahead; what will happen to Osteenism when you name it and claim it and BE-LEEEEEVE and you still go under?)

    Give us front-line combat reports on “the battle of the Prosperity cancer every day with students from Africa and the U.S” you have to “fight every day”.

    Give us other front-line reports on “what it is doing to your brothers and sisters in Africa”. And how it furthers the triumph of Islam.

  45. dumbox,
    I saw that same PBS special and was inspired by the great sacrifices by men endeavoring to tell the masses of the gospel. I am humbled by their great courage and sacrifice.

    What are we truly willing to do if the potential penalty is horrible? Contrast that with this blog post.

  46. “Post evangelicals reach back into broader, deeper, more ancient church to find what evangelicalism has abandoned, thrown out or neglected.”

    Oh, IMonk, you are singing our song! Come home to Orthodoxy and recover those things that are missing in evangelicalism. GRIN.

    Mr. Osteen’s gospel bears little resemblance to the Gospel lived out by the martyrs and confessors of the early centuries of the Church. Where is the community, sharing among themselves to make sure that all were taken care of, as in Acts 2? Where is the concern for the widows found in Acts 6? Where is the taking care of the poor that so frustrated one of the pagan Roman Emperors?

    We often forget that monasticism rose, in part and only in part, as a reaction against the growing riches of Christians in the third century. Where are the John the Baptists and the monastics in Osteen’s gospel, who preach against a gospel of prosperity and call us back to self-discipline? St. Paul speaks of us training in our Christian life as an athlete trains for the crown. Where is that call to us in Mr. Osteen’s gospel?

    But, do not look at just the Osteens of the world. They only reflect a culture in the USA of self-fulfillment and pleasure. The preaching of self-discipline in the USA is all too often limited to just sexuality. It is a negative word in this culture whereas it should be a positive word that catches our commitment to grow in the Christian life.

    IMonk, you said you are post-evangelical. So am I. I am post-evangelical because salvation among evangelicals has become the simple instant gratification of “once saved always saved” without the concommitant Calvinist doctrine of the “perseverance of the saints.” Jean Calvin’s doctrine of the growth in sanctification that showed in the elect became debased into the insurance policy of eternal security.

    All Mr. Osteen has done is to take that insurance policy to the next step. If so little life commitment was required, in practice, to be saved (a once down the aisle was enough), then maybe a simple assent to the Christian God was sufficient. All that is necessary is to believe that God, “is and is the rewarder of those who seek him.”

    Luther sang, “were not the right man on our side, our battle would be losing.” Mr. Osteen has no battle, no perseverance of the saints, no serious life commitment to sanctification. You make a mistake, IMonk, in limiting your comments on the Prosperity Gospel only to forensic salvation. There is so much more wrong with it.

  47. IMONK: I think God has given you a desire to combat ‘prosperity’ gospel…where ever you find it. “Sell what you have and give it to the poor” is at the heart of the gospel because Christ attempts so often in scripture to teach us that ‘abundant life’ doesn’t include temporal things….which so often seems to be ALL that many Christians and non-Christians alike…can see. We were instructed to make no ‘graven image’ to describe, worship, or explain Christ. My deep desire is for somehow…someway…that people will ‘KNOW’ the death He died. So much emphasis is placed on the cross (one sits up front on most altar Communion tables) that I feel many believe His physical death to be our atonement. I am so sure that His spiritual death…the death…of His soul…is the one He died on our behalf…THE SECOND DEATH. Our souls were redeemed….not our earthly bodies. He said ‘the sting of death is sin’ because the ‘sting’ is total separation from anything clean, holy, pure, loving….GOD. The horrible sting that came on Him was a desolation so total and so horrible…because of our sins that He took on Himself…it could in no way be compared to physical death. He never spoke a word during the physical torture. The desolate ‘SCREAM’ came when the Father withdrew from Him totally….even the air became dark…and Jesus…our precious Redeemer died a sinner’s death. As it was happening.. he screamed, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME? And the LIFE went from Him!!! This HORROR is why ‘he sweated, as it were, drops of blood.’ He in no way feared physical death. He knew what He would do, where He would be…what He would encounter. But He did that FOR US!! Oh my..oh my! How I long to hear those realities coming forth from Christians but I’ve heard it only once in my lifetime. God bless you! Stand firm on the truth of the gospel and continue to stand firm on the desires for truth in your heart. God bless you and your ministry!

  48. On “the ends justifying the means” of post-Osteened disciples of Jesus:

    Many disciples emerge out of a variety of cults or quasi-Christian cults, in which they heard shreds of truth (“gleams of celestial beauty shining on jungles of filth and imbecility,” Lewis would say), but that doesn’t mean the cults and false teachings are to be ignored and excused!

    What sort of weird logic is that?

    Lots of people “find Jesus” in all kinds of places they shouldn’t be.

  49. Okay, dear brothers and sisters, please hear me out.

    There are people who are drawn to Osteen. Maybe they get 99% crap and 1% Christ. But isn’t that 1% precious? Are you sure you want to say that Osteen is sending people to hell?

    Fr. Ernesto suggested above that we should look to the monastics of the early church. But is that Biblical? Where in the Bible does it say we should withdraw from society and exclude the rest of the world, and live lives of poverty? An emphasis on prosperity is wrong, but an emphasis on poverty can also be wrong. Someone had to pay so that Christ could be buried in a rich man’s tomb.

    The Hindus think that poverty is sacred. Christians are not called to be Hindus and ascetics, any more than they are called to be living lives of luxury. I would say that someone calling for us to return to monastic life is giving an unbalanced word, but I would not say he is a “false teacher.”

  50. I am really astonished by particularly the Mark Driscoll clip in the more recent post on the subject. Osteen doesn’t claim to preach scripture, that others are more qualified than he is to do that, and that he just want to teach people how to live their lives. The implication is that scripture doesn’t tell us how to live.

    There are a lot of things to wrestle with.

    1. Don’t throw the law out. Even good Lutherans are taught that the law is a curb, ruler, and mirror to govern our lives. No, law doesn’t and can’t save us, but those who love God will keep his commandments, not by their our strength, but by the Holy Spirit working the new creation in our lives. The law tells us how to live our lives in the context of God and our neighbor. When Mrs. Osteen explains how to get what you want from your husband while still appearing submissive, she’s not even treating her husband as her neighbor, let alone obeying the spirit of the sixth commandment. Principles to live life which have no reference to the commandments will ultimately become self-serving.

    2. Special revelation cannot contradict scripture. I experienced a lot of this as a pentecostal. There is too much openness to the idea that someone can speak on the behalf of God and either not reference scripture or completely contradict it, simply because they bring a “new” revelation. They used to be called Montanists, which was heresy in St. Augustine’s day.

    3. Enough with the “natural” laws and principles, where even scripture somehow is derrived from natural laws set into motion by God. All a pastor has to do to neglect scripture is to call something a “natural” law, and therefore it transcends scripture itself. The power-of-positive-thinking is typically treated as a natural principle. A lot of psycho-heresy also is treated as natural law, because it taken from secular psychology, which again is treated outside of scripture, because it is a secular study. Trace it back to the separation of faith and reason.

    4. Subjective truth must submit to objective truth. Something isn’t true because it “feels” right. The credo, “If it feels good, do it” came from the 60’s, not Christianity.

    I think these are foundational issues which allow not just Osteen but many false teachers to flourish.