And it Leads to Destruction
Before I begin, I want to explain where I am coming from. I am a pursuer of a Christ-like life, and believe Jesus is the true Son of God who died to pay the punishment for my (and everyone else’s) sins. I do not hate Joel Osteen, or believe he is the devil (which I’ve heard). I think it’s childish to draw little red horns on top of his photograph (which I’ve seen). I do not think he is doing what he is doing to get rich or become famous. I believe he thinks he is helping people, which is fine but to label what he teaches as “Christianity” is pure blasphemy. I have watched many of his sermons, interviews, but have not read his book (though I’ve read summaries). I do not have a problem with him not attending seminary, though I think it would have been better for him after how he warps the Bible. I am praying for the day when Mr. Osteen realizes what he preaches is not the complete Christian gospel, and shares that truth with his audience because, hey, he has the biggest church in America.
(Throughout the article I will not write out any Bible verses, but refer to them by book, chapter and verse. The point of this is to get people to open a Bible before trying to argue their points.)
Basically, Joel Osteen preaches what some have dubbed the, “prosperity gospel.” It basically emphasizes that if you follow God good things will happen to you, such as being successful Financially and career-wise. Osteen once preached, “because of the price He (Jesus) paid, we have a right to total victoryâ€¦not partial victory, to where we have a good family, we have good health, but we constantly struggle in our finances. That’s not total victory.” Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus died so we can have a family, be healthy, and financially stable! On the contrary, Jesus’ death was so that we, sinners, may have life after the one in this world ends! We should not live this life for our own desires and securities, but in complete and utter sacrifice to God that puts our health and finances, things of ourselves, in danger! (2 Corinthians 5:14-15) Many people in this country want to learn about a God that only hopes we are happy, they don’t want to hear the God that condemns (the God Jesus talked about!). The way Joel Osteen describes God sounds more like he is talking about Santa Claus, think happy thoughts, be good, and he’ll reward you with worldly things. (1 John 2:15) Another Osteen sermon quote: “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.” Where does it say this in the Christian Bible? (Revelation 3:17) Paul, the post-Christ world’s first great evangelist lived in poverty and with some type of physical ailment. He, as well as many other disciples of Jesus, sacrificed their lives in hope that the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ may be heard! They endured physical abuse, stoning, and poverty. Look at the way Jesus himself lived! Nothing Osteen teaches about the life God has for us matches up with ANYTHING of how our Savior lived!
Joel Osteen leaves out one of the most important parts of the Christian gospel: that everyone is a SINNER and deserves HELL. (Romans 3:23) The problem with this is that if Christian pastors do not explain the depth of sin, we cannot truly understand God’s love for us. The most amazing thing about God’s love is that He loves us no matter how messed up in sin we are. Did Jesus talk about hell and sin? Of course. (Mark 9:43-47) The topic of sin is NECESSARY, not to scare people, but warn them. Why should Christians share the gospel and warn others? Because we love them and care for them. Leaving out a huge portion of the Christian gospel cannot be considered loving our brothers and sisters in this world. Osteen says he doesn’t talk about people being sinners because he doesn’t want to condemn them. Uhh, who gave Osteen the power to condemn? God has already condemned humanity (John 3:18), and preaching the ENTIRE gospel is a way out of the condemnation we already have!
Here is what Osteen said when asked if the Christian life is hard: “I don’t think it’s that hard. To me it’s fun. We have joy and happiness. Our family — I don’t feel like that at all. I’m not trying to follow a set of rules and stuff. I’m just living my life.”
I’m sorry, but if being a Christian is “easy”, for you, then somewhere down the line you have totally missed the point of Christianity. Are there any Christians in the Bible that professes living a Christ-like life is easy? However, I can see how Osteen sees Christianity as an easy thing to live, since his idea of Christianity is so warped. Christianity is all fun and happiness. If you’re good and always happy, God will reward you with a healthy family, long life, and financial stability. This is why I say Joel Osteen’s church (and theology) has a wide door (Matthew 7:13-14). Osteen has taken the wide, easy, road of Christianity, and many are entering, not because they cannot believe a God would love them for being a terrible people, but because they want to be better people. Jesus did not die so we could use our lives to work for what we want, but so that we could live and DIE giving God glory, no matter the circumstances of our health, families, or prosperity/poverty. Becoming a true Christian would change our dreams, our wants, and our hopes. Hear these words, friends: an easy Christianity is no Christianity at all. A Christian walk through the wide gate is what Joel Osteen is teaching.
To follow Osteen, and say things like, “Joel Osteen saved my life” are fine, but don’t go labeling it in any way as Christianity. I do not credit the saving of my life to any man but Jesus Christ. Sometimes I wonder if any true follower of Osteen studies the Bible for himself or herself, because if they did, they would see his teachings as un-Biblical, and his points lacking scriptural backing. In fact, it’s easier to find verses in the Bible that REFUTE Osteen’s points.
I will admit Joel Osteen has done some pretty impressive things with his church and his points have changed many people’s views on their self-esteem. My problem with this is that his self-help theology belongs next to Dr. Phil and not in the Christian church. To call him a “Christian” preacher is to insult and ignore the teachings of Jesus the man Christians should be listening to more.
This article is only part one of a series. I have a lot more on the issue of Osteen’s non-Christian theology, but I wanted to get this out there to show scripturally based points that oppose Osteen’s “prosperity gospel”.