I thought it was amazing how after just putting up a post on Jesus´ dealings with false teachings and teachers in Matthew 23, that I checked my email and found this post at Antagoniz Blog analyzing Joel Osteen´s “gospel” message. Very thought provoking especially when we consider the eternal destinies, i.e., hell or heaven, to those who hold to either the old covenant of works (i.e., the law, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get it together) or the new covenant of grace (the Savior suffering for the sins of lost humanity, the bloody cross, repentance from sin, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and salvation by grace through faith in His precious name alone). I´ve also always found it concerning that by this modern-American definition of Christianity, i.e., total victory (in worldly standards) in finance, relationship, health, etc. that every one of the Apostles (especially the Apostle Paul) and even Jesus Himself would have to logically be considered people of little faith and total failures! Paul never got married (1 Corinthians 7:8). He had trouble with Mark on a mission trip and this led to he and Barnabas arguing and parting ways (Acts 15:37-41) and, oh, and at one point he said that all of Asia had abandoned him (2 Timothy 1:15) (uh oh, relationship troubles!). Timothy had chronic stomach trouble (1 Timothy 5:23) and there is evidence that Paul had some sort of persistent “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7) that some theologians believe might have been a problem with his eyesight. Regardless of what it was, it was an area he apparently didn´t get “total victory” over. Also, Paul mentions friends who became sick even to the point of death (Phillipians 2:27). These men suffered, they were stoned, they were run out of cities, they were repeatedly imprisoned, and they rejected and spurned the accumulation of wealth and looked to the promise of something greater beyond the comforts of this present life (See the book of Acts, The Gospels and the rest of the New Testament). Is Joel Osteen preaching the Gospel or is this another gospel not presented in the pages of scripture? This is no light matter and we need to be Noble Bereans regardless of who the messenger is, 1 Thessalonians 5 verse 21 tells us to test all things so please prayerfully and Biblically consider…Paul S.
(certain items bolded for emphasis by me…)
Everywhere you turn nowadays, there’s Joel Osteen!
He’s on the cable news channels, pontificating about the political process, Mormonism and how “God is the judge of the heart.”
He’s on the bookshelves, smiling from the covers of Your Best Life Now and Become a Better You, promising new life and hope to the downtrodden.
He’s on TV, trumpeting his feel-good gospel of positive reinforcement to a watching world.
Osteen has legions of followers, but he has garnered a large group of critics too. Where is God in his message? What about sin? What about grace? What about Jesus?
Osteen answers his critics in the following way: I focus on the positive. Sin and punishment and all that isn’t my message. I want to help people and don’t want to beat them down all the time.
By answering his critics this way, Osteen has painted his critics as a bunch of denigrating, pulpit-pounding, sin-obsessed pastors. He wants to focus on “the positive.”
But does Osteen do this? I’m afraid not. I’ve listened to Joel Osteen’s messages. I believe he sincerely wants to help people who feel beaten down by life and who feel guilty for their failures and mistakes. The “positive” message he proclaims is this: Do better. Try harder. Believe you can succeed. In other words, you can change! Just do it! God will help you, of course, but you have to make it happen.
Though Osteen claims he has positive sermons, I believe he is proclaiming the most negative, unmerciful message possible! Like telling a clinically depressed person to “just snap out of it!,” Osteen is giving people burdened by sin, guilt and despair more reason to despair.
Do we really think that more willpower will solve our problems? What is this message but the Law on steroids? There is no gospel in Osteen’s message, regardless of his rare references to Jesus Christ. Osteen’s idea of “good news” is telling self-centered people to look for salvation in more narcissism! Osteen’s preaching is like giving sugar to a diabetic, telling people that the magic medicine will help them, when in fact, it is speeding up their death.
What galls me most about Joel Osteen is that he claims the evangelical label! What have we come to? Osteen’s acceptance of Mitt Romney as a brother in Christ because “he says he has a personal relationship with Jesus” is the same logic some evangelicals apply to Osteen. Nevermind that he implicitly denies the reason for Jesus’ death, the sin we need salvation from, and the only lasting solution that will bring life transformation. Joel says he has a relationship with Jesus. So that’s good enough for us?
Don’t be fooled by the smiling man on the book cover. Joel Osteen’s message is not positive at all.
For further study:
The State of the Pulpit-Joel Osteen (Commentary by Pastor Mark Driscoll)