joel osteenMove over Robert Schuller, the latest mega-preacher to emerge in what I will call “motivational Christianity” has reached superstar status. 

I’ve been asked to tune down my criticisms of Joel Osteen in my blogs elsewhere the last couple years by some folks I am pretty fond of, and even some I’m close with.  I’ve been asked to tune in and listen to the latest pep talk of Joels’ by someone I love to death. I’ve been told Joel isn’t all that bad of a guy (which I don’t doubt nor am I accusing him of being by the way) . Just yesterday I was told by another good friend that Osteen… “Has a way of making me feel so much better about myself.” Well, I’m sure everyone means well (am I allowed to say it’s Jesus we should be feeling good about and him we should be trusting in and looking to instead of ourselves?).

If you’ve watched Osteen on the tube, you’ll agree that he’s engaging, polished, and has a million dollar smile . The first time I caught him 6 years ago I was laid up and pretty ill with what seemed to be an incurable disease, so his message of getting better by utilizing mind over matter and that God really wanted to give back to me for all of the good things I had done for him in years previous if I would only believe—was tempting (at the time, I came pretty close to cutting the book of Job entirely out my bible and in addition, taking a black marker and lining out all of the verses on suffering, sacrifice, and persecution on account of the gospel which Paul not only wrote about but experienced firsthand).

Osteen can be quite motivational I will agree, sort of our own “Christian” version of Tony Robbins (who instead uses and quotes the bible regularly). I’m not accusing Osteen here or elsewhere of being a bad guy (I’m sure he’s the wonderful guy everyone says he is). And being positive and upbeat isn’t a sin after all. So, my problem with Osteen isn’t with Osteen. My problem with Osteen is Osteen’s gospel. The reality is this; you can be the nicest guy in your state (even one as big as Texas), but that doesn’t make you faithful to the gospel message (Joel Osteen was a gospel preacher last I checked).

Paul wrote to the believers at Corinth, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough (2 Corinthians 11:3-4, ESV).”

Of late, Osteen’s gospel is as popular throughout the ranks of mainstream evangelicalism as “Guitar Hero” has been across the globe. But just because something is widely accepted we shouldn’t assume it is untainted. One can drink the Kool-Aid and think it’s just that while its laced with cyanide. So, as unpopular as it may sound, the gospel Osteen promotes isn’t the gospel we find in the pages of scripture. Rather, its a twisted and warped version that must be examined and ultimately exposed for what it is. There is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and there are a plethora of other gospels which are not.  Osteen’s gospel falls into the later.  

If you have ever wondered if Jesus promoted self-help as a way to get ahead as a Christian and score brownie points with God, this article may be of interest to you.  Michael S. Horton (Ph. D) outlines in the following article the dangers associated with Osteen’s teaching…

Joel Osteen and the Glory Story: A Case Study