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?