Before I begin this examination of Pastor Joel Osteen, let me lay some ground work for this "critique."
Today's Christians have been spiritually malnourished with a steady and unrelenting diet of "judge not, that ye be not judged," tolerant, inclusive "junk food" doctrine to the point that they are completely void of any sort of spiritual discernment. May I remind you that in Matthew 7, where the popular "judge not, that you be judged" mantra occurs, this chapter contains the harshest warning in the Bible exposing false prophets and exercising personal discernment. The Lord Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23 provides the most enlightening and frightening warning found in all the Scriptures. Many (not a few) people that openly call Jesus "Lord, Lord..." and many that "prophesy in thy name" and "cast out devils" and in the name of Jesus Christ perform "many wonderful (not hateful, but nice, sweet) works" - Jesus will utter "I NEVER knew you." They were never saved. If they were ever saved - Jesus could not say, I NEVER knew you. Despite their "many wonderful works" in the name of Jesus, despite calling Him "Lord, Lord" - Jesus Christ will cast them into an eternal lake of fire, calling them "ye that work iniquity."
Matthew 7 (and there are many other scriptures) is an earth-shattering wake-up call for prayerful Bible discernment. If we, as Christians, do not shine the exposing light of the Word of God upon preachers, Christians or anyone and everyone, how can we possibly obey the clear admonition of our Lord and Savior in Matthew 7:15? How can we "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves," if we do not "judge" who are the "false prophets"? How in the world can we even KNOW who are these "false prophets?" They appear as "sheep" or saved people, but they are "ravening wolves." There is only one way - the unchangeable, perfect Word of God. There is a serious and very deadly Christian belief perverting Christians that says, "I can't judge them, I don't know their heart." The Lord Jesus Christ says in Matthew 15:19, "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man." What comes out the mouth, is in the heart.
Joel Osteen is pastor of a nondenominational church called Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. Osteen claims the nation's largest congregation with over 30,000 members. Lakewood is leasing the colossal Compaq Center, formerly home of NBA's Houston Rockets. After a whopping $95,000,000 million dollars in revovations, the Compaq Center now houses Osteen's empire called Lakewood Church. Osteen continually sells out houge arenas (at $10 a ticket) across the country (on ebay, I discovered from someone else's research, that those tickets list for over $100 dollars - can someone say, "cha-ching"?). The New York Times (July 18, 2005) reported Lakewood's 2004 revenue's at $55,000,000 million dollars. Osteen's book of human-potential, self-esteem, "feel good," self-help-guide titled, Your Best Life Now: Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, ranked number one on the prestigious "New York Times" best-seller list.
It is interesting to note that Joel Osteen paid the city of Houston $95,000,000 dollars to remodel the Compaq Center and an additional $14,000,000 dollars to lease the building for 30 years. That means that his church doesn't even own the building! There is another interesting thing to consider though - and this is based on fact: there is not a SINGLE cross in the whole building! Want to know why? Joel Osteen says that he wants to remove all "stumbling blocks" from the way of people coming to his church and being comfortable. Are you kidding me?! Since when did Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross become a STUMBLING BLOCK for faith?
Ok, so what if Joel Osteen was named the "Most Influential Christian in America" in 2006 by the Church Report and was one of Barbara Walter's "10 Most Fascinating People of 2006"? So what if he hasn't had any major sex scandals, drug scandals or molestation scandals like the other magachurch pastors (Pat Robertson, Al Sharpton, Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggert Jim Bakker, ect.)? That's not the problem. What the real question is what he doesn't do!
In his sermons, Joel Osteen does not talk about God. Joel Osteen, instead, talks about almost everything except God. He has a television ministry, a massive church, $43,000,000 million dollars a year in tithes and another $36,000,000 a year in mailed donations, but he won't talk about God! Instead, he talks about more pleasant topics, such as donating money to him and positive thinking. Sure, he has written two books, the second of which sold 3 million copies, but his books don't really talk about God either. It's just a lot of his bland and boring advice on how to live a happy life that has been thought of by other people first.
What does Joel Osteen say when people ask him about why he does not discuss God or Jesus Christ or sin or what you need to go to Heaven? "That's not my gift." One person wrote, "What are you doing being a....megachurch pastor then, bonehead!?" But what sort of response do you think he would get as a reaction to that pitiful excuse for an answer? If you are going to try to operate a religious scam, at least make it religious!!
Joel Osteen didn't even build his megachurch. Instead the business was handed down to him by his father. When Joel Osteen became the head pastor of his church, he had only preached ONE sermon in his entire life - and that was the week before. Joel Osteen does not have any training in the Bible (seminary, degrees, etc.), which is probably why he doesn't want to talk about it much [the Bible].
Many Christians have been defending Joel Osteen and support him in his beliefs, behavior and preaching methods. But guess what? That only shows their lack of spiritual discernment! I am not frivously "sowing discord among brethren" (Proverbs 6:19), nor am I blindly "straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel" (Matthew 23:14). I do not have any personal malice or contempt against Joel Osteen, personally.
It's just that what came out of his mouth during the June 20, 2005 interview with Larry King that caused my jaw to hit the floor and crash through to the basement! As a Bible-believing researcher, I have researched many topics and many false prophets - but what I heard repeatedly from the mouth of Joel Osteen on Larry King clearly ranks as the most disturbing words publicly coming out of a mainstream, accepted preacher!
I believe, as Bible believers, we can disagree on certain doctrinal issues, but never the redemptive work and person of the Lord Jesus Christ. God forbid! God help us to never cease from exposing serious doctrinal errors, and make no mistake about it - several of Joel Osteen's statements on Larry King Live were serious. Very serious...!
Look at the video, above, and then read some of these disturbing statements - the last of these are on the video:
Larry King: "What if you're Jewish or Muslim, you don't accept Christ at all?"
Joel Osteen: "You know, I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know..."
- At this point, even Larry King appears supprised by Osteen's answer. Then Larry tosses Osteen a "soft-ball" to explain his previous answer. And again Osteen openly denies that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way of salvation.
Larry King: "If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They're wrong, aren't they?"
Joel 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 will 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."
- Are you kidding me?! Again, Osteen denies the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice, he praises the pagan, false-religion of India as "I know they love God." This is unbelievable!
- After that pitiful exchange, Larry King opened the phone lines and a concerned Christian lady asks Joel to clarify his statement. Again, Osteen could easily have cleared this up. (Now this exchange is on the video).
Caller: "Hello, Larry, You're the best, and thank you, Joel - Joel - for your positive messages and your book. I'm wondering though, why you side-stepped Larry's earlier question about how we get to heaven? The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus is the way, the truth and the light and the only way to the father is through Him. That's not really a message of condemnation, but of truth."
Joel Osteen: "Yes, I would agree with her. I believe that..."
Larry King: "So then a Jew is not going to heaven?"
Joel Osteen: "No. Here's my thing, Larry, is I can't judge somebody's heart. You know? Only God can look at somebody's heart, and so - I don't know. To me, it's not my business to say, you know, this one is or this one isn't. I just say, here's what the Bible teaches and I'm going to put my faith in Christ. And I just - I think it's wrong when you go around saying, you're saying you're not going, you're not going, you're not going, because it's not exactly my way. I'm just..."
Larry King: "But you believe your way."
Joel Osteen: "I believe my way. I believe my way with all my heart."
Larry King: "But for someone who doesn't share it is wrong, isn't he?"
Joel Osteen: "Well, yes. Well, I don't know if I look at it like that. I would present my way, but I'm just going to let God be the judge of that. I don't know.
Larry King: "So you make no judgment on anyone?"
Joel Osteen: "No, but I..."
- And here Larry King really tosses Joes a soft-ball. How about a God-defying atheist? And again, Osteen will not confess that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way of salvation.
Larry King: "What about atheists?"
Joel Osteen: "You know what, I'm going to let someone - I'm going to let God be the judge of who goes to heaven and hell. I just - again, I present the truth, and I say it every week. You know, I believe it's a relationship with Jesus. But you know what? I'm not going to go around telling everybody else if they don't want to believe that that's going to be their choice. God's got to look at your own heart. God's got to look at your heart, and only God knows that."
Enough already. Listen people, the Bible is clear! There is one, and only one way out of an eternal hell and that is the blood of he Lord Jesus Christ. Not simply "a relationship with Jesus Christ." C'mon, man! Judas Iscariot had a "relationship" with Jesus Christ, walking and talking with the Lord, and even "kissing" the Lord (Luke 22:47), but Judas went to hell (Acts 1:25). Revelation 2:15 reads, "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood."
What can wash away my sins - Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
The teaching professed by Osteen that "...God's got to look at your heart..." for salvation is wrong. It is grossly wrong. It is deadly wrong. God has already "looked at your heart." In Jeremiah 17:9, the Lord says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Proverbs 28:26, says, "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool." The Lord Jesus says, in Matthew 15, "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." C'mon, man!
Apparently the Bible isn't clear on the subject of "same sex" marriage. During an interview in Massachussetts, Joel Osteen had this to say:
- "I don't think it's God's best. I never feel like homosexuality is God's best."
- "I don't feel like that's my thrust...you know, some of the issues that divide us, and I'm here to let people know that God is for them and He's on their side."
That's pitiful. Someone should nail the New Testament to Joel's forehead, the way Martin Luther nailed his theses to the church door. Mabe he thinks that what he is saying is consistent with the New Testament. You know, the part in Romans 1:28 that says:
- "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind..."
I am sorry but I have no respect for someone who keeps ducking and dodging and making it seem as if you are judging someone's heart if you stand on Jesus as the only way...