(05)Joel Osteen’s Ignorance(abridged version)
The following is an abridged version of an article entitled
(1) Regarding Sacred Ministry
1. On Preaching/Pastoring
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
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
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
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 messages. The 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 books.
(3) Joel Is A Confused Semi-Pelagian
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
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
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
(4) On Moral Issues
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 television.
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.
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).
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.
“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
[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.
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:
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.
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 preach. My 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
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.