Leave Joel Osteen Alone, RIGHT NOW! I mean it!

He's a human!

OK, sorry for the Chris Crocker reference, but it sure seems like everyone is piling on Joel Osteen. OK, I take that back. I'm not sorry for the Chris Crocker reference. That video was hilarious!

Anyway, back to my point. Everywhere I turn people are bashing poor Joel. Mark Driscoll practically did a whole sermon on him. I say stick to preaching about Jesus and quit maligning others. The media LOVES it when we argue amongst each other. Thanks Mark.

First, I think the people who accuse Joel of spreading a health and wealth prosperity gospel are really not listening closely. You have to read a LOT into what he says if you want to throw him into the same pot with the word of faith types like Kenneth Copeland and others. His positive message is VERY mild and not full of a bunch of empty "sow a seed and reap a hundredfold" promises. In fact, he never solicits money on television. Let me say that again. He never solicits money on television.

Second, why does every preacher have to be a deal closer? Joel has a sinner's prayer at the end of every broadcast, but why should he have to? To combat accusations that his messages aren't strong enough? Again I say, "So What?" His teachings are not false. They are not wrong. But for some people they are incomplete. Some would say he is not preaching the whole truth. Well I disagree with the assumption that an incomplete gospel is a false gospel. Is there a shortage of preachers in America willing to teach that Jesus is the only way and that you must accept him as Lord in order to get to heaven? Joel is part of a kingdom of priests. He does not stand alone. His message is heard in concert with thousands of other preachers and pastors every week all over this country. God is not sitting by helplessly watching people go to hell because Joel Osteen taught them a watered down message. That is absurd.

Larry King tried to get him to say that people of other faiths are going to hell. Joel was not willing to say that, and of course the critics piled on. Some people LOVE to say who they think is going to hell. It's a sport. Erwin McManus has said that some Christians see hell as a "value added". It's as if it makes them feel good to point fingers and condemn other people to hell. Hey, that's what being a Christian is all about, right? Avoiding hell?? (No.) I agree with Erwin. I HATE that there has to be a hell. I wish there wasn't a hell. So why would I categorically condemn a billion people to burn there in eternity on national television? Like that would make one bit of difference? Come on. All it would do is appease Christian fundamentalists and further alienate Muslims. Good call Joel.

Let me be clear. I am not saying that the gospel is unimportant. I'm just saying leave Joel Osteen alone. He is teaching 47,000 people a week how to live more like Christ. He values orthopraxy over orthodoxy. What do you think God values more?

12 comments:

Kyle said...

I listen to a lot of Osteen and he certainly preaches prosperity. Propsperity gospel has nothing to do with asking for donations on tv. It is simply, believe in this message and you'll have health, wealth and happiness. That is word for word what Joel preaches, there's plenty of video available online with him saying the exact same thing.

Joel said in the Larry King interview that he wouldn't say Christ was the only way to heaven. That has a name, it's called heresy. If he's teaching others to be like Christ, then you'd have to say Christ says He is the only way, he is the stumbling block. Joel doesn't name Jesus in his messages, just a God in heaven. You can't teach people to be like Christ without preaching what Christ preached and how he lived. Mark Driscoll said it straight up, it's not truth. We have to be unwaivering in theology, but open in technique. Joel is a humble good guy, but he's not preaching truth.

Ken said...

Joel Osteen has never said word for word "believe in this message and you'll have health, wealth, and happiness".

The Bible is full of God's promises for health, wealth, and prosperity. It is also full of God calling us to suffering, sacrifice, and poverty. There is nothing wrong with preaching that God is our provider. He is. There is nothing wrong with preaching that health and wealth comes from God. It does.

I have a whole blog post you should read about suffering vs. prosperity. As a generalization, relatively wealthy suburban churches usually preach suffering and relatively poor urban churches usually preach prosperity. Our own social status probably influences which Jesus we think it is more appropriate to teach. Which is why it seems to be mostly middle class (and higher) pastors who complain about Joel Osteen.

Yes, Christ is the only way to heaven, but does that automatically mean all Muslims are going to hell? Or do you mean that what YOU believe about Christ is the only way to heaven? Are you saying that the correctness and completeness of our understanding of Christ is a prerequisite to salvation? Do you believe Catholics are going to hell? Mormons? Jehovah's Witnesses? Seventh Day Adventists? Hindus? Buddhists? Jews? Is Joel Osteen going to hell? He mentions Jesus all the time, and he makes his own beliefs clear. He just stops short of categorically condemning entire races and cultures. Is that what you suggest he do?

Kyle said...

(I disagree with your statement Joel has never said that...I can point you to some you tube videos or you can search for yourself, but onto more important things...)Muslims do not believe Jesus is the son of God. I'm not condemning anyone hell, they(Muslims) are condemning themselves. There's really no mystery there, pretty crystal clear in scripture. I might ask you where you find biblical support that a Muslim(which is a religion, not a culture) can goto heaven while denying Christ? You are combining culture with spiritual conviction in your line of questioning. We aren't called to convert cultures, we're called to spread the gospel of christ to all nations *through* their culture. I'm sure I didn't imply anything different in my comment, but that's a frequent argument to take truth out of balance. And why do you place responsibility of condemnation on me or anyone else who communicates what Christ says in scripture? I didn't say Joel needs to condemn people to hell, but he has a responsibility to clarify and preach that Jesus is the only way to heaven, not Budda, not Muhammed, otherwise he's just holding people's hands and patting them on their back on the way to destruction. You can't abrogate that responsibility as a pastor.

Ken said...

I agree with almost all your comments. But again, I am not worried that people are going to hell because of Joel Osteen. He believes that Jesus is the only way. And he calls people to accept Christ after every message. So where is the problem? All I can see is that it sounds like you wanted him to tell Larry King on international television that Muslims are going to hell. I see no benefit in that.

And again, we do not know who is going to hell. Christian churches are full of people going to hell. When asked if Christians are the only ones going to heaven, Erwin McManus once stated "Have you seen Christians? We're in real trouble!"

Believing Jesus is the son of God is not a litmus test for salvation as you suggest. Many will say "Lord, Lord". The point is does one "know" Christ. To say that muslims do not know Christ is a gross generalization and mischaracterization. They certainly do know Christ and regard Him highly. Their understanding of him is different. If our salvation depends on the accuracy of our christology, then we are on a slippery slope of legalism.

Kyle said...

Yes and "knowing" Christ is to follow, to love, to be obedient. I didn't say Muslims don't know of Christ, they know of him and they view him as a heretic, not God, they don't obey, love or follow Christ(they don't deny that). So by your own paraphrasing of scripture, God would say, "I don't know you". To regard highly is not to worship as God. I'm not generalizing, ask any Muslim who Christ is and they say he was a teacher but not God, they believe followers of christ are polytheists and they do not believe in the trinity at all. They openly deny Christ as savior. This isn't legalism, we're not debating any definition of words here.

I'll stop pestering your blog. I enjoy reading as many different types of blogs as I can, see where we line up and where we disagree, but I don't want to be an annoyance. This is obviously a point of disagreement. God bless ya.

Ken said...

Hey, I love the pestering!

But essentially I think we are off track here. The secondary point of my post was that Joel Osteen did the right thing by not falling into Larry King's trap of looking like a judgmental bigot and announcing the condemnation to hell of a billion people he has never even met.

The primary point of my post is that Christian leaders should leave Joel Osteen alone. He believes Jesus is the only way. He calls people to accept Jesus at the end of every broadcast. I think that is enough.

Waiting for the Rapture said...

Wow, controversial! I personally choose not to listen to Joel after hearing a few of his sermons. I do disagree with his unwillingness to proclaim Christ as the only way. It goes against the 10 commandments itself. I believe we have gotten so far away from the basic message, only one way to heaven, we are sinners, that sin separates, Jesus paid our punishment we believe in him and he and he alone saves us. I also agree Pastor that many will call "Lord Lord" and He will say I never knew you...

Many can teach how to live a good life...make good choices etc. Action causes consequence...that consequence is negative or positive. We can hear that anywhere. Christians are to look different. Doesn't mean we all have to fall on our swords and live with nothing and flog ourselves. But our message had better look different.

He is a charismatic fantastic speaker. He does speak of Jesus.

Many do.

Doesn't mean it's preaching in line with the word of God. I find THAT to be scarier than those who openly profess a different Jesus, a different message. It is those that take the very Word, the very name of Jesus, and just make it a little different, a little easier,make it more hmm, tasty....Jesus warns against that. He warns his believers to be weary and cautious of such things.

Connie

Dino said...

Christians who are able to discern "Thank God" & pray for others who are being led astray... even though am an avid listener of Paul washer's preaching yet i truly believe its not intentional with joel osteen however inexperience & fame is taking its toll on the young preacher... Pls pray that the Lord works with him and brings him back on track ...

Above all brethren we must realize that we should come to jesus for jesus not for money & for best life now. People can have the best life what they think is best life even without realizing the need for Jesus & go straight to Hell after death... Jesus laid the emphasis on repentance & turning away from sins so that by accepting his sacrifice we can inherit eternal life... but now Preachers are more concerned about the worldly life which totally underrates the sacrifice on the cross.
As followers of christ Our power is in intercessory prayer... Remember Lord Almighty spared israel cos Moses interceded for them. SALVATION IS OF THE LORD. Our Lord says to Moses "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion"
All we can do is to pray for them so that the lord might have mercy on their souls... God Be with Us

Ken said...

Great stuff.

R4C said...

Great Discussion (okay only a few months late joining in). I was drawn to Joel and excited about his message and then began hearing the controversy. I, too, thought people were just not listening to his message and seeing all the references to scripture and the altar call at the end I didn't understand why. Although I did think he was a little too perky and life just doesn't remain that way. But what really raised the red flags for me was when he would not commit, quote scripture, or even make a stand one way or the other when asked about who was going to heaven. The bible is clear: Not everybody is going to heaven. I really did believe that it was just up to God and no one could do anything about it, and yes I believe the Holy Spirit must open ones heart to receive Jesus, but do you really have to receive Jesus, believe in His work on the cross, to be saved and go to heaven or has Jesus work on the cross just automatically saved everyone? I think I found the answer in Romans 10:9-10 and Acts 16:31. Not everyone is going to heaven unless they personally put their faith in Jesus' work on the cross.
I do pray that Joel will make a stronger stand for that-- he has been given such a tremondous position of influence and lots of folks will miss out if they don't get this right. You might have "Your Best Life Now" but you could pay later.

Anonymous said...

I have not heard a single person ask the most obvious question of all.

"What about those who've never heard of Jesus?" All the fundamental Christians were quick to jump all over Ken and Joel Osteen, but I have to wonder... Have any of you met anyone who has never EVEN HEARD of Jesus? Like nothing at all. No cross. No blood. No manger. No Jesus.

I have. I was a missionary to China.

In fact, as of 2005, only (approx) one-third of the entire world's population considered themselves to be "Christian". That one third INCLUDED the Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Protestants... and a bunch of other denominations. There are 4.2 Millions Jainists, for example. Most people have never even HEARD of Jainism, let alone know what the principle beliefs are.

Here's the reality. None of you have ever met Jesus Christ of Nazareth as described in the Bible. None. The only way you know ANYTHING about him, is through ancient texts handed down for over 2000 years.

Wait, let's clarify what I mean by "ancient texts". Well, are you Jewish? or Roman Catholic? Or Eastern Orthodox? I mean, which cannon should we use? No one seems to be able to even agree on which texts belong IN the Bible. Old testament? Old + New Testaments? Old + New Testaments + Apocrypha? Old + New Testaments + Book of Mormon? The Koran talks about Jesus. Who's to say that we shouldn't go with THAT interpretation of who Jesus is? Why isn't everyone Mormon, considering that Joseph Smith actually MET Jesus and found gold plates with a NEWER new testament written on it talking about Jesus. Seriously, why aren't you Mormon?

Actually, here’s a better question. How do you guys decide who has written divinely-inspired, infallible text?

L. Ron Hubbard?
Siddartha Gautama?
Charles Taze Russell?
Paul of Tarsus?
Jonathan (Me)?
Joseph Smith?
Moses?
Simon Peter?
Jesus Christ? (Seriously, please don't pick this one, because I'm afraid you would be so dense that light would bend around you).. wait... Jesus never wrote anything HIMSELF for us to learn from later? We don't get an autobiography? God, that sure would have helped... but anyway...

Fundamentalists "know" because the text itself says it's divinely inspired. To make my point, I'm going to include this line in my own writing here.

Every word in this post is from God. Don't add to it or take away, you'll end up burning in hell.

Please visit 2 Timothy 3:16.

So, what happens to those who have never EVEN HEARD the name JESUS? After all, in John 14:6, it says that Jesus said "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Clearly, anyone who does not acknowledge Jesus Christ as their personal lord and savior will be in hell... meaning that if you've never heard of him, you can't possibly acknowledge him.

Or, maybe, the texts we have are meant to be learned from and used to seek Truth.. and we should "test and hold onto the good." There are many wise things in these texts.. but there are also many things that are completely insane or completely wrong. Fundamentalists... seriously, step back and look at things from a larger perspective. Do you really think that God is SO SMALL, that he can fit into a couple thousand pages of ancient writings?

I can tell you that there are things that I believe about God. There are things that I can share with others about God, that I believe will be just as true in their lives as it is in mine. Usually, that's when something starts to become a fact. Scientifically, if you can repeat a procedure and get predictable results, you can say that that the hypothesis is true. I think it's time for a lot of religious people to start doing this with their religions.

God is bigger than you think.

- Jonathan

Anonymous said...

I have not heard a single person ask the most obvious question of all.

"What about those who've never heard of Jesus?" All the fundamental Christians were quick to jump all over Ken and Joel Osteen, but I have to wonder... Have any of you met anyone who has never EVEN HEARD of Jesus? Like nothing at all. No cross. No blood. No manger. No Jesus.

I have. I was a missionary to China.

In fact, as of 2005, only (approx) one-third of the entire world's population considered themselves to be "Christian". That one third INCLUDED the Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Protestants... and a bunch of other denominations. There are 4.2 Millions Jainists, for example. Most people have never even HEARD of Jainism, let alone know what the principle beliefs are.

Here's the reality. None of you have ever met Jesus Christ of Nazareth as described in the Bible. None. The only way you know ANYTHING about him, is through ancient texts handed down for over 2000 years.

Wait, let's clarify what I mean by "ancient texts". Well, are you Jewish? or Roman Catholic? Or Eastern Orthodox? I mean, which cannon should we use? No one seems to be able to even agree on which texts belong IN the Bible. Old testament? Old + New Testaments? Old + New Testaments + Apocrypha? Old + New Testaments + Book of Mormon? The Koran talks about Jesus. Who's to say that we shouldn't go with THAT interpretation of who Jesus is? Why isn't everyone Mormon, considering that Joseph Smith actually MET Jesus and found gold plates with a NEWER new testament written on it talking about Jesus. Seriously, why aren't you Mormon?

Actually, here’s a better question. How do you guys decide who has written divinely-inspired, infallible text?

L. Ron Hubbard?
Siddartha Gautama?
Charles Taze Russell?
Paul of Tarsus?
Jonathan (Me)?
Joseph Smith?
Moses?
Simon Peter?
Jesus Christ? (Seriously, please don't pick this one, because I'm afraid you would be so dense that light would bend around you).. wait... Jesus never wrote anything HIMSELF for us to learn from later? We don't get an autobiography? God, that sure would have helped... but anyway...

Or, maybe, the texts we have are meant to be learned from and used to seek Truth.. and we should "test and hold onto the good." There are many wise things in these texts.. but there are also many things that are completely insane or completely wrong. Fundamentalists... seriously, step back and look at things from a larger perspective. Do you really think that God is SO SMALL, that he can fit into a couple thousand pages of ancient writings?

I can tell you that there are things that I believe about God. There are things that I can share with others about God, that I believe will be just as true in their lives as it is in mine. Usually, that's when something starts to become a fact. Scientifically, if you can repeat a procedure and get predictable results, you can say that that the hypothesis is true. I think it's time for a lot of religious people to start doing this with their religions.

God is bigger than you think.

- Jonathan