(02)Joel Osteen as a Word-Faith Preacher
Joel Osteen is the author of [Your Best Life Now:
7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential] and [Become a
Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day].
The article about Joel Osteen is entitled [The Leaven of
The following is extracted from this article.
1.JOEL OSTEEN’S FAMILY BACKGROUND
When it comes to the LAKEWOOD CHARISMATIC
MEGA-CHURCH there are aspects of this ministry which must
be cited as worthy. To begin with the church was originally
started by JOHN OSTEEN, who was originally a Southern
Baptist pastor but after receiving the “baptism” in/with the
Holy Spirit he became enamored with the CHARISMATIC
renewal movement in its early stage and eventually became
associated with the WORD OF FAITH (WOF) cult.
However, I am under no illusions regarding the WORD-OF-
FAITH “leaven” which John propagated and is unfortunately
being further magnified through HIS SON JOEL OSTEEN
who took over as Pastor when his father died in 1999.
John was a big crusader for the error of POSITIVE
CONFESSION. This is a metaphysical belief that we can either
create or change our reality by the power of our words,
for example he stated the following:
When they say like they did to Smith Wigglesworth, “How are
you feeling today?” He said “Listen, I don’t ask my body
how it’s feeling; I tell it how to feel.” And your words
should not be to describe the situation; your words
should be given to change the situation. And so, read it,
meditate upon it, and speak it.
OSTEEN is on record as FULLY ENDORSING the WORD-OF–
FAITH errant concepts surrounding FINANCIAL
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.
In the above sermon we can see the HEALTH & WEALTH
“GOSPEL” summed up three sentences.
2. JOEL OSTEEN EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND
Since we know his training is not theological, what is it? He did
attend Oral Roberts University for two years, but his area of study
had to do with television production and marketing.
For seventeen (17) years Joel was behind the scenes handling
all the television and marketing of his father’s ministry.
Joel Osteen had the ability to get his father’s heavily WORD-OF–
FAITH influenced message out all over America and into 100
With his father sick in the hospital, John asks his son, Joel, to
preach for him that Sunday. Initially Joel balked at the idea
and said “no.” He then relented and here are Joel’s own words
concerning his preaching that day:
I just got up there and told stories. I was so glad when it was over,
I said, ‘I’ll never do this again in my life.
That was the beginning of his public ministry; he just got up and
told “stories.” Joel has been telling stories that have been tickling
the ears of the multitudes ever since.
Joel Osteen has absolutely no biblical training or
experience to be a pastor. To me we have a clear case of the
blind leading the blind (read Luke 6:39) with the end result being
masses of people falling into the ditch of spiritual ignorance,
abuse and/or extremism.
3. JOEL OSTEEN’S PREACHING STYLE
Osteen’s upbeat style is deliberate and authentic.
Of course Osteen’s “style” is upbeat, would you expect
negativity from a positive confession devotee? No!
Deliberate, absolutely, he really BELIEVES much of the
WORD-OF-FAITH nonsense his father taught him all his life.
Authentic? Without a doubt! What you see is what you get.
Joel Osteen is a man without any biblical education but an
admitted talent for marketing.
Descriptions of his style include ‘simple,’ ‘down-to-earth,’
‘practical,’ ‘relatable,’ ‘easy,’ ‘folksy,’ ‘humble.
“It’s 10 a.m. when he began his sermon. The theme is practical
as he gives example after example of the importance of
following God’s timing rather than one’s own. He keeps the tone
cheerful, optimistic. ‘God doesn’t want anybody walking out
of here today heavy-hearted and downcast,’ Osteen says.”
Joel Osteen is charismatic in his personality. He is not a bad
looking man, his delivery is as non-threatening as the positive
messages he delivers. Perhaps I am reading in to much yet when
I read “practical” it makes me think that he believes teaching
theology is somehow “impractical.” The example after
example simple means he tells a lot of stories and
anecdotes that somehow relate to the message in which he may
cite one or two proof texts to make his point.
It also concerns me when a pastor can make the statement that
God does not want anybody walking out of here “heavy-hearted.”
My Bible says “godly sorrow worketh repentance…”
(see 2 Cor. 7:10). At times God does want us to walk out
of a service “heavy-hearted” if we have been sinning
against His will. We should allow the Word (when properly
expounded) and the Spirit (when genuinely present) to break us,
to convict us of sinful attitudes and practices.
However if all you hear is “upbeat,” “cheerful,” and
“optimistic” messages there is little opportunity for the
Holy Spirit to work conviction in the hearts of the
“Let Us Entertain You, ” he says.
Entertained? Oh yes, it is not only Joel’s preaching style but the
music of Lakewood is an important ingredient in drawing large
hoards of people. The music at Lakewood is contemporary.
They have musical stars that appeal to Hispanic (Witt),
African-American (Houghton) and Caucasian members
(Ratcliff). The musical team writes many of their own songs
and nothing in the article is ever mentioned about hymns.
4. JOEL OSTEEN’S MARKETING TECHNIQUES
‘Make church relevant,’ he says.
To be a success in marketing you have to know where people itch
and scratch it. Or, you have to create a desire in them by
creating a hunger for something they currently do not
have nor formerly knew they needed. All commercials can be
condensed down to one of these two truths. So to become a
mega-church a pastor has to make church relevant.
‘Give them something to be able to take away,’ he says.
He has to give the people what they want, something that
soothes that spiritual itch. In order to be a “success”
(i.e. large masses of people and money) pastors must
preach unchallenging messages that uplift rather than
convict. He must pander to the lowest common denominator
and make sure that whatever is taught does not offend
anymore at anytime.
‘I find today people are not looking for theology,’ he says.
‘There’s a place for it, but in your everyday life you need
to know how to live.‘
Well that is obvious because if they were they would not find any
sound theology at Lakewood! Lest you think me a bit harsh let
me remind you that theology simply means
“the knowledge of God.”
In essence Osteen has said that people are really not interested
in learning about God. Somehow (undoubtedly due to his lack
of biblical education) he has made a disconnect between
knowing the God of the Bible via sound biblical theology
and “knowing how to live.”
Brothers and sisters, my wife and I can testify to you that the
more accurately you understand God within the
biblical context the better life you will live before Him.
God does not tell us to feed the sheep what they want to eat.
Jesus told Peter “feed My sheep,” (see John 21:16). Jesus said
“feed” the sheep not “entertain” them! We are to give them the
Word of God in its totality. Any pastor can fall into the trap
of becoming a people pleaser.
There are many biblical themes which are very “unpopular” and
even politically “incorrect” yet the faithful pastor/teacher will
expound on these topics as well so that the flock under his care
is receiving a balanced spiritual diet and is able to walk
in the full light of God’s Word and not in the shadows.
5. THE KEY TO JOEL OSTEEN’S SUCCESS
Osteen I believe is probably the first of many WORD-OF-FAITH
devotee’swho has melded the successful marketing
techniques of the seeker-sensitive mega-churches with their
positive confession health & wealth message.
The message that God wants to bless His children with
complete physical health, to give them great financial wealth
and to demand little of them regarding their spiritual life is a
highly appealing message. When you combine this with
well known Gospel singers, highly orchestrated praise
and worship teams in a decidedly non-church atmosphere
it will appeal to even a wider audience.
6. FINAL WARNING:
What saddens me the most is that one hears little, if any,
Law & Gospel proclaimed by Joel at Lakewood Church.
To quote something I remember hearing Hagin say: “how
do you poison a dog? You put the poison in with the
I do not want to press the analogy too far but the reality
is that 30,000 people are NOT being biblically fed a
balanced spiritual diet that will promote true growth
in their lives.
What you do hear is a synthesis of WORD-OF-FAITH
concepts wrapped up in a seeker-friendly environment by a
young man with a winsome smile.
After all, many posit, if Joel was not being used of the
Lord then why would God allow all these people to
come to Lakewood church?
Could it be a sign of GOD’S JUDGMENT on HIS PEOPLE
who have forsaken His ways? Often we think of God’s
judgment as some divine catastrophe, yet often, and just as
catastrophic, is when He simply allows people to have
own way. I believe the words of Jeremiah are applicable to
many in the Church today:
[Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid,
be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have
committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain
of living waters, [and] hewed them out cisterns,
broken cisterns, that can hold no water].