(05)Joel Osteen’s Ignorance

Website: http://www.discernment.org/osteen.htm

(1)  Regarding Sacred Ministry

1.    On Preaching/Pastoring

King:  Why are you a preacher?

Osteen:…He tried to get me to minister, I didn’t have it in me…

But when my father died, I just knew — I don’t know how to

explain it, it sounds kind of odd, but I just knew down in here

I was supposed to step up to the plate and pastor the church. 

And it was odd because I had never preached before.

            I do not doubt that one can have a second calling in life

and become a pastor after having a career in some other field. 

However, most men who are engaged in pastoral ministry will

almost universally tell you that they always “knew” serving

as a pastor was what God had for them.  In his Charisma

interview Joel told the readers that he never wanted to

be a pastor/preacher.  In fact, when his father told him to

preach his first message on a Sunday evening, Joel refused at first,

then eventually got up and told some stories and found out he

liked it and off he went.

2.    Regarding Seminary

King: You didn’t go to seminary?

Osteen: No sir, I didn’t.

King: They can just make you a minister?

Osteen: You can, you can.

King: That’s kind of an easy way in.

Osteen: Yeah, but I think it happens more than you think. 

But I didn’t go to seminary.  I have a lot of great friends that

did.  But I didn’t.  But I did study 17 years under my dad.

Sadly, Joel is correct when he says “it happens more than

you think,” regarding people leading congregations without

any formal education or training whatsoever.  Almost every

independent charismatic congregation’s pulpit is

filled with a man or woman who has little or no

accredited biblical education.

The extent of Joel’s education consists of what he was able to

glean from his father’s heretical Word-of- Faith cultic

teachings and those of the other Word-of-Faith heretics

John Osteen had as regular guests in the pulpit at Lakewood

Church.  Joel has little or no concept of Church History;

Systematic Theology; Hermeneutics; Expository

Preaching; the Greek and Hebrew languages; Pastoral

Counseling, etc…I refer back to his interview in Charisma

when he stated that he does not teach theology because the

people are really not interested in it!  He is the epitome of

the blind leading the blind What little he knows comes

from a polluted stream of charismatic extremism,

theosophy, and positive thinking.  What is sad is that the

people who come to hear him do not demand more than

pleasant platitudes.  The mob welcomes his feel-good message

since it in no way points out their shortcomings

before a holy God.


(2) Law & Gospel

Regarding Theology

King: … But when the people call you cotton candy

theology.  Someone said you’re very good but there

is no spiritual nourishment.  I don’t know what that


Osteen: I think, I hear it meaning a lot of different things. 

One I think a lot of it is that I’m not condemning people.

I could have told Larry King what people (like me and others)

mean by that statement.  We mean that Joel offers people

no genuine spiritual “meat” but only gives them spiritual

Twinkies.  Yes, Joel is engaging; he smiles a lot and is upbeat. 

Those are good characteristics to have as a public speaker;

however they have absolutely nothing to do with the truth of

God’s Word.

Joel equates the criticism he receives regarding the abysmal

lack of theological content in his message from other ministers

to the fact that he is not “condemning people.”  This means

that Joel does not present the law of God to the people

in his messagesThe law magnifies God’s perfection,

shows forth His righteous standard, and convicts us all

of our lack of ability in and of ourselves to fulfill His

requirements.  This is called the second use of the Law in

Evangelical theology “God’s law exposes the reality of human

sinfulness. In Latin that was ‘usus theologicus,’ the law’s role

in “driving us to Christ.”

In Joel’s mind he is taking the moral high ground by not

 “condemning” people.  The reality is just the opposite.  He is

failing to carry out his sacred trust as a pastor by not showing

them their desperately sinful condition by presenting the

fullness of God’s Word to them.  He is doing a grave disservice

to the 30,000 people who listen to him at Lakewood and untold

multitudes that hear him on television or read his best selling



(3)  Joel Is A Confused Semi-Pelagian

King: Don’t you ever doubt?

Osteen: No I don’t — I wouldn’t say that I do.  I guess I do

and don’t think about it too much.

I’m not trying to be too nit-picky but Joel throughout the

interview is constantly contradicting himself.  King asks if he

ever has doubts regarding spiritual matters.  Joel immediately

say “no I don’t” then he contradicts himself in his next sentence

by saying that he guesses he does have doubts at times but that

he does not think about it too much.

In the real world it is perfectly normal to have some doubts and

questions regarding God’s plan at times.  These doubts and

questions are part of our fallen nature and they should drive us

deeper into God’s Word to seek answers for them.  But in the

fantasy world of the Word of Faith cult we (and Joel) were

taught to, in Hagin (A Word-of-Faith Leader)’s words to

“doubt your doubts.”  Doubt to the cultist is a sign of a

lack of faith versus a lack of understanding and any

doubt will cut off the blessings of God in their minds.

King: Well, 9/11

Osteen: Well, yeah.

King: Didn’t you say what? Why?

Osteen: You do.  You definitely do.

King: And how do you answer?

Osteen: To me it comes back and God’s given us all our own

free will.  And it’s a shame but people choose…

King: The people in the building didn’t have free will.

Osteen: But the thing is, people can choose to do evil with

that will.  And that’s unfortunate.  But you know, of course

you always doubt, I mean, you have to override it.

Since 9/11 Larry King has asked this type of question to

every preacher he has had on his show.  King’s real issue is

that of the problem of the existence of evil and why do

people sin.  The answer is:  Due to Adam and Eve’s sin all

humanity exists in a fallen condition.  We are by nature

sinners who love the darkness and hate the light.  In the

language of the Reformers, we are totally depraved.

Due to Joel’s lack of a biblical education he does not understand

that mankind does not have “free will” in the way he

conceives of it.  Man is not totally free in his choices

(to believe humanity is totally free is to follow the heresy of

Pelagius).  After the fall his will is bound to sin (read all of

Romans Chapter 7).  A great book to read on this subject is

Dr. Martin Luther’s The Bondage of the Will Joel fails

to understand that man is indeed free to choose evil,

but he is not equally free to choose to do God’s will

apart from the enabling grace of God given through

Christ Jesus.  Note that Joel slips up and admits (again)

that “you always doubt,” but he quickly recovered by saying

 “I mean, you have to override it.”


(4) On Moral Issues

King: How about issues that the Church has feelings about?

Abortion?  Same-sex marriages?

Osteen: Yeah.  You know what, Larry? I don’t go there. I just…

King: You have thoughts, though.

Osteen: I have thoughts.  I just, you know, I don’t think that a

same-sex marriage is the way God intended it to be.  I don’t think

abortion is the best.  I think there are other, you know, a better

way to live your life.  But I’m not going to condemn those people

I tell them all the time our church is open to everybody.

Even though the Bible speaks very plainly about these two issues

and condemns them as sinful Mr. Osteen simply does not go

there when he addresses his congregation and the multitudes on


I agree with Osteen that our role as pastors and Christians is not

to condemn people who are homosexuals or women

who have had abortions.  We are however to make them

acutely aware of what God position is on these issues and

the pardon He offers by grace alone in His Son.

King: You don’t call them sinners?

Osteen: I don’t.

King: Is that a word you don’t use?

Osteen: I don’t use it.  I never thought about it.  But I probably

don’t…So I don’t go down the road of condemning.

Jesus called people sinners and taught a great deal about sin. 

He used the word and concept quite a bit (as do all the biblical

writers).  Calling someone a “sinner” is not condemning

them necessarily it is a statement of fact.  We are all

sinners in need of the free grace of God in Christ Jesus.  To

neglect to tell the lost of their condition before God is to

send them happily on their way to hell.  One caller did

challenge Joel regarding salvation by asking if Joel believed

that Jesus Christ was the only way to the father. 

Osteen replied “Yes, I would agree with her.” (I’ve combined

Osteen’s comments regarding salvation).

King: So then a Jew is not going to heaven?

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.

King: What if you’re Jewish or Muslim, you don’t

accept at all?

Osteen: You know, I’m very careful about saying who would

and wouldn’t go to heaven, I don’t know…

King: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? 

They’re wrong, aren’t they?

Osteen: Well, I don’t know if I believe they’re wrong

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.

I hope from these statements you can see the dire need for a

sound seminary education.  Here Osteen is on a global television

show and he either cannot, because he does not know;

or will not give a clear message regarding salvation in

Christ and in Him alone.

Joel cannot have it both ways.  Either Jesus Christ is

the way the truth and the life and no man comes to the

Father but by Him or He isn’t the only way.  This is a very

confused young man with no convictions concerning the unique

claims that Christ made concerning Himself.  All Joel had to do

was quote for Mr. King the following text and let the chips fall

where they may.

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have

eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only

begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not

perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into

the world to condemn the world; but that the world through

him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not

condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already,

because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten

Son of God. John 3:15-18

But I know they love God.”  Oh really, then I guess the Holy

Spirit was wrong when He had Paul cite Isa. 41:6 in his letter to

the Romans:

[As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

There is none that understandeth, there is none that

seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are

together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good,

no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their

tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their

lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet

are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their

ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no

fear of God before their eyes](Romans 3:10-18).

Love God, the natural unconverted man is at enmity

with the God of the Bible, which Joel should know and not

be ashamed to state clearly.  Joel sounds very much like a man

who is actually ashamed of the Gospel.  When he could be

speaking words of life to untold millions of viewers, he balks and

refuses to stand up for the truth for the sake of the

approval of fallen men.  What a shame indeed.


(5)   Giving

King: I love to give.

Osteen: I know.

King: Giving is selfish.  You get a great reward.

Osteen: I know, you really do.  That’s what life is all about. 

We were not made to be ingrown.  I believe, maybe I’m off.

King does give to many charitable works and stated in the

interview that according to the Talmud giving is the greatest thing. 

King admits that he gives out of a selfish motivation,

in giving he receives a great reward.  Osteen agrees that

giving is selfish!  The Word-of-Faith cult teaches that

giving is a tool to gain more.  The more you give the

more you get.

Yes, Joel you are “off” if your motivation in giving is to get more,

than you give more and get more until you are the richest man

on the planet.  Biblical giving is not selfish.  There are

blessings in giving true enough.  I will go as far as to say

God does indeed reward our giving, but not in the

manner the prosperity pimps teach.  Joel did correctly

state a little earlier in the interview that giving is the “whole

spirit of Christianity.”  Please keep in mind that

Mr. Osteen is a multi-millionaire and that Lakewood

Church receives millions of dollars a year in offerings. 

Osteen would agree that we “live to give” and with

his millions of dollars personally and

congregationally the next comments strike me as

particularly troubling:

Fontana, California. Hello: Caller: Yes — Joel?

Osteen: Yes.

Caller: I have a question for you. We’re a small

congregational church here and we’d like to come and see

you next month, but you charge to get in and we’re a very

poor congregation.  Why do you charge to get in to

your appearances?

Osteen: YesThe only reason we charge – I hated to charge. 

The only we charge

King: Do you charge at the church?

Osteen: No, no, never. Never.

King: When you travel?

Osteen: Yes.  The only reason we did it is because when

we went to New York Madison Square Garden they wouldn’t

let us do an event without doing a ticketed event

because of the crowds.  We sold it out two nights and we

turned so many people away in Anaheim and Atlanta, it was

just a shame to do that.

When I was viewing the interview I had the exact same

question.  Osteen’s response was very feeble and

dishonest.  Billy Graham has held crusades at Madison

Square Garden and never charged an admission,

how come they “made” Joel charge one? 

All that Osteen had to do was simply pay the rental

fee for the Garden and give away the tickets until

the venue was filled.  Even Benny Hinn, as money

grubbing as he is has never charged for a miracle crusade! 

What is more after people pay the fee to listen to Joel he has

a multitude of tables set up inside of each venue selling

his books, tapes, and CD’s.  So Joel is not only guaranteed

a dollar amount per seat, he makes additional money

 from the sales of his materials on top of it. 

Joel: Hey, you know, you need to write the church, because

we’ll make a way that anybody can get in to those events. 

 I don’t like charging.

King: What do you charge?

Osteen: $10.00.

I am glad to hear that if one writes Lakewood Church Joel has

promised to make a way for anybody to get in.  I plan to write

them because he is coming to Detroit and I will not pay a cent

to hear him or anyone preachMy question is if Joel

does not like charging, then why does he do it? 

Who is running the ship?  It is not a question of money,

he has enough money personally to bankroll the events

and charge nothing at all.  I am also curious to know

where the proceeds go.  Does the profit go to Osteen

personally?  Does it go to Lakewood Church?

The arena at Madison Square Garden seats 19,522 people,

at $10.00 person that equals $195,220 per evening. 

Multiply this by two sold-out evenings you have $390,440,

plus add in additional merchandise revenue.  So in two

evenings Osteen took in around half a million dollars. 

When he comes to the Palace of Auburn Hills, Mi.

we have a seating capacity of 22,076, assuming he sells

out this venue (minus the cost of my ticket) he will make

a little over a quarter of a millions dollars.  He has 20 events

scheduled for 2005.  At a minimum Osteen will take in

somewhere in the neighborhood of ten million dollars

in appearances alone.  When you add this amount to his

undoubtedly large salary as senior pastor at Lakewood, plus

the income from his best selling books along with the

accompanying “journal” you can understand why Joel is always

smiling…smiling all the way to the bank.

I would like to believe Joel is sincere and as down to earth

as he attempts to be on television.  Yet I am beginning to have

my doubts about his sincerity as I begin to do the math

and see the marketing.  I have always been concerned

over his lack of a sound biblical message, but now I am

beginning to believe he is just another charismatic star,

getting as much money out of sign-seeking people

as fast as he can before the next superstar eclipses him. 


(6)  Joel Repents???

 Shortly after his television interview Osteen’s office was

inundated with letters of concern and no doubt some anger

over his lack of clarity regarding salvation through

Jesus Christ alone.  Due to the tremendous amount of

negative responses Joel did put a short statement on his web site

apologizing to his fans regarding what he said.  Here are some

excerpts of his “mia culpa”.

[It was never my desire or intention to leave any doubt as to

what I believe and Whom I serve. I believe with all my heart

that it is only through Christ that we have hope in eternal life.

I regret and sincerely apologize that I was unclear on the very

thing in which I have dedicated my life. Jesus declared in

John 14; I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to

the Father but by me. I believe that Jesus Christ alone is the

only way to salvation. However, it wasn’t until I had the

opportunity to review the transcript of the interview

that I realize I had not clearly stated that having a

personal relationship with Jesus is the only way to

heaven. It’s about the individual’s choice to follow Him.

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks

 (see Matt. 12:34).  Actually Joel was very clear in what he said

on Larry King Live, he stated that Jesus was the way for

him personally, but people in other religions loved God

too which clearly implied that Jesus was not the only

way.  Anyone with half sense knew exactly what Joel said which

is why he got so much mail.

God has given me a platform to present the Gospel to a very

diverse audience. In my desire not to alienate the people

that Jesus came to save, I did not clearly communicate

the convictions that I hold so precious.

Joel still does not “get it.”  Preaching Christ crucified is a

stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles

(read 1 Cor. 1:23).  To those being saved we are an aroma of life

and to others the stench of death (read 2 Cor. 2:15,16) and

if we are faithful to the Gospel message we will suffer

persecution, it is inescapable.

Jesus did not worry about alienating people.  After

telling the crowd following Him one day that His flesh was food

and His blood drink and if they ate His flesh and drank His blood

they would have eternal life.  The crowd was upset at His words

and Jesus said to them “Doth this offend you?” (John 6:60). 

The end result of His teaching was that those following Him

left Him (John 6:66) and Jesus facing the twelve says

“will ye also go away?”  “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord,

to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life”

(John 6:68).

Jesus spoke the truth in love and then He lets the “chips” fall

where they may.  Osteen needs to take a lesson from

our Master and quit trying to please everyone because

the result always ends in compromising the truth. 

I will try to believe the best concerning his apology and I do

sincerely hope he does use this as a learning experience

as he stated in the close of his letter.


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