(05)Joel Osteen’s Ignorance(abridged version)

The following is an abridged version of an article entitled

[Osteen’s Ignorance].

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

Osteen’s Ignorance

(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

Regarding Theology

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 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

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

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.

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 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 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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