The Belfast Odyssey arena currently has this advert on its ‘What’s on’ page – An Evening with Joel Osteen is a chance for you to be encouraged by one of America’s leading pastors. You will be able to celebrate God’s goodness through worship and praise music…, you’ll learn more about Joel’s ministry and family, and Joel will have an inspirational message from God’s Word. At the end of the event, Joel will proclaim a special blessing over everyone in attendance… You don’t have to be a Christian or a member of any particular church. The only requirement is a ticket. [Cost £11.50].
So, who is Joel Osteen? We find these brief biographical details in a Dial-The-Truth Ministries report that I will make further reference to several times in this article –
The latest “star” among the Christian world is Joel Osteen, pastor of nondenominational Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. Osteen claims the nation’s largest congregation with over 30,000 members. Lakewood recently purchased the colossal Compaq Center, formerly home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets. After a whopping $95 million in renovations, the Compaq Center now houses Osteen’s empire called Lakewood Church. Osteen continually sells out huge arenas (at $10 a ticket) across the country…Osteen’s book of human-potential, self-esteem, “feel good,” self-help-guide titled, Your Best Life Now: Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, ranks number one on the prestigious “New York Times” best-seller list. Wxyz.com writes of Osteen’s enormous popularity, “In the world of religion, he’s achieved the status of a rock star. . .” Clearly, Mr. Osteen wears the coveted crown prince of the Christian kingdom…” Osteen’s message is described as “. . . simple self-help message that congregants say is both uplifting and accessible. . .” Osteen proudly wears the title of “the smiling preacher.” His theology has been described as “cotton candy” theology – tastes good – but no substance.
Obviously the compiler of this report is not too impressed with Mr Osteen’s ‘preaching’. Does he elaborate on his concerns? Well, in his report we read this –
The Lord Jesus Christ says in Matthew 15:19, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” What comes out the mouth – is in the heart. And what came out of the heart and mouth of Joel Osteen during the June 20, 2005 interview with Larry King literally sent shivers down my spiritual spine. As a Bible Believing researcher, I have researched many topics, many cultural issues and many false prophets—but what I heard repeatedly from the mouth of Joel Osteen on Larry King clearly ranks as the most disturbing words publicly coming out of a mainstream, accepted preacher. Bar none! Before we view Osteen’s troubling statements, let me also add: we are not frivolously “sowing discord among brethren. . .” (Proverbs 6:19); we are not blindly, “. . . straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel.” (Matthew 23:14); nor is any personal malice or contempt against Mr. Osteen intended. As Bible Believers, we can disagree on certain doctrinal issues, but never the redemptive work and person of the Lord Jesus Christ. God forbid! God help us to never cease from exposing serious doctrinal errors, and make no mistake about it – several of Joel Osteen’s statements on Larry King Live were serious. Very serious.
So what did Joel Osteen say during his interview with Larry King to cause this researcher to describe his comments as being ‘the most disturbing words publicly coming out of a mainstream, accepted preacher. Bar none?’ A few brief extracts from this report and from another also compiled by a faithful ‘watchman’ may serve to sufficiently alert people not to even consider paying £11.50 to hear ‘an inspirational message’ and to receive a ‘special blessing’.
Returning to the Dial-The–Truth Ministries report and Joel Osteen’s June 2005 interview on the ‘Larry King live’ programme we read –
After Larry King opened the phone lines, a concerned Christian asks Joel to clarify a previous statement…Osteen could easily clear this up.
CALLER: Hello, Larry. You’re the best, and thank you, Joe — Joel — for your positive messages and your book. I’m wondering, though, why you sidestepped Larry’s earlier question about how we get to heaven? The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus is the way, the truth and the light and the only way to the father is through him. That’s not really a message of condemnation but of truth.
OSTEEN: Yes, I would agree with her. I believe that…
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. And I just I think it’s wrong when you go around saying, you’re saying you’re not going, you’re not going, you’re not going, because it’s not exactly my way. I’m just…
KING: But you believe your way.
OSTEEN: I believe my way. I believe my way with all my heart.
KING: But for someone who doesn’t share it, is wrong, isn’t he?
OSTEEN: Well, yes. Well, I don’t know if I look at it like that. I would present my way, but I’m just going to let God be the judge of that. I don’t know. KING: So you make no judgment on anyone? OSTEEN: No. But I…
Larry really tosses Joel a softball. How about a God-defying atheist? Again, Osteen will not confess that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way of salvation.
KING: What about atheists?
OSTEEN: You know what, I’m going to let someone — I’m going to let God be the judge of who goes to heaven and hell. I just — again, I present the truth, and I say it every week. You know, I believe it’s a relationship with Jesus. But you know what? I’m not going to go around telling everybody else if they don’t want to believe that that’s going to be their choice. God’s got to look at your own heart…and only God knows that.
In the wake of these comments and the criticism they received from faithful Christian commentators Joel Osteen posted the following ‘apology’ to his website –
Many of you have called, written or e-mailed regarding my recent appearance on Larry King Live. I appreciate your comments and value your words of correction and encouragement.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. 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. I will use this as a learning experience and believe that God will ultimately use it for my good and His glory. I am comforted by the fact that He sees my heart and knows my intentions. I am so thankful that I have friends, like you, who are willing to share their concerns with me.Thank you again to those who have written. I hope that you accept my deepest apology and see it in your heart to extend to me grace and forgiveness.
As always, I covet your prayers and I am believing for God’s best in your life,
In response to this ‘apology’ the Dial-The–Truth Ministries report continues –
I find it ironic and demeaning that Osteen “was unclear on the very thing in which I have dedicated my life.” He was not UNCLEAR. He was crystal clear. He consistently and clearly rejected that the Lord Jesus Christ was the ONLY way of salvation! We’re not talking about a “babe in Christ”. We are talking about the pastor of the largest church in the nation! Here he is, as an ambassador for the Lord Jesus, on a very popular television show, and [he] refuses to acknowledge the very thing [to which] he supposedly has “dedicated his life”? Something’s seriously wrong with this picture…Many other statements from Osteen during the Larry King interview were blatantly in opposition to the Word of God
[like failing to name homosexual practice as ‘sin’ as you will read shortly]
We learn more about Joel Osteen’s style and approach to preaching from this exchange –
KING: But you’re not fire and brimstone, right…not…hell and damnation?
OSTEEN: No. That’s not me. It’s never been me. I’ve always been an encourager at heart. And when I took over from my father he came from the Southern Baptist background and back 40, 50 years ago there was a lot more of that. But, you know, I just — I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe — maybe it was for a time. But I don’t have it in my heart to condemn people. I’m there to encourage them. I see myself more as a coach, as a motivator to help them experience the life God has for us.
Friend, the greatest “fire and brimstone” preacher that ever lived was the Lord Jesus! He preached about hell more than any other subject. If you don’t believe in proclaiming “fire and brimstone”, as Osteen openly confesses, you do not believe the Bible! It’s that simple…
I mentioned earlier Joel Osteen’s unwillingness to identify homosexual practice for what it is in the sight of the Holy God of Heaven. These are the relevant exchanges –
In the interview, Larry King tossed Osteen another “soft-ball,” asking Osteen about the wicked and vile sins of abortion and homosexuality. Even lost people take a stand on these blatant “sins.”
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 for everybody.
Again, Larry appears surprised at Osteen’s waffling. Larry allows Osteen to clarify his confusing position. And again Osteen blatantly contradicts the words of the Lord Jesus Christ.
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. But most people already know what they’re doing wrong. When I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change. There can be a difference in your life. So I don’t go down the road of condemning.
Whilst here on earth the Lord Jesus told His faithful followers “In the world ye shall have tribulation” [John 16:33] and Paul wrote to Timothy “and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” [2 Timothy 3:12]. Is that how Joel Osteen envisages the faithful Christian life. The Dial-The-Truth report continues as follows –
The following conversation during King’s interview displays how far Osteen and the Bible differ.
KING: Is it hard to lead a Christian life?
OSTEEN: I don’t think it’s that hard. To me it’s fun. We have joy and happiness. Our family — I don’t feel like that at all. I’m not trying to follow a set of rules and stuff. I’m just living my life.
KING: But you have rules, don’t you?
OSTEEN: We do have rules. But the main rule to me is to honour God with your life. To live a life of integrity. Not be selfish. You know, help others. But that’s really the essence of the Christian faith.
As far as Joel Osteen is concerned it’s not ‘hard’ to be a Christian and in fact ‘it’s fun’. Recently I wrote a report on the brutal slaying of 3 Christians in Turkey – the article is called ‘Faithful unto death’. In it I quoted some sections from Pastor John MacArthur’s latest book ‘The TRUTH War’. Bearing in mind Joel Osteen’s ‘it’s fun’ comment let me repeat what Pastor MacArthur wrote –
‘Much of the visible church nowadays seems to think Christians are supposed to be at play [having ‘fun’?] rather than at war…Contemporary Christians are determined to get the world to like them…the thought of even identifying someone else’s teaching as false (much less “contending earnestly” for the faith) is a distasteful and dangerously counter cultural suggestion…Does anyone really imagine that many of the entertainment-hungry churchgoers who pack today’s megachurches would be willing to give their lives for the TRUTH?’
The Dial-The-Truth Ministries report concludes their assessment of Joel Osteen with these words that merit inclusion under the Lord’s warning of ‘Take Heed’ [Matthew 24:4] –
Stay away from Joel Osteen and his no condemnation, self-esteem, false-gospel. Warn others.
The full Dial-The-Truth Ministries report can be viewed on http://www.av1611.org/osteen.html
I mentioned that I would quote also from another report on Joel Osteen and Pastor David Cloud compiled this and his report neatly sums up all that has ‘gone before’. Pastor Cloud wrote –
HOW TO BE A POPULAR PREACHER TODAY
(Friday Church News Notes, December 8, 2006)
Joel Osteen, pastor of America’s largest church, is a living example of how to be a popular preacher in this apostate age. The key is to preach a positive message that doesn’t deal plainly with sin, repentance, and judgment. About 38,000 people attend his Sunday services in Houston, and his sermons are broadcast in more than 200 markets in the United States as well as on major networks in Canada, Europe, Australia, Asia, and the Middle East. He fills massive arenas throughout America, and his 2004 book Your Best Life Now has sold 4 million copies. Recently he was in Tampa, Florida, and theSt. Petersburg Times ran a front-page report on the meetings entitled ‘God’s Cheerleader.’ There is no way that a major secular newspaper in America today would run such an affirmative report on a preacher who is faithful to the Word of God.
Notice how Osteen’s message is described: ‘Osteen’s easy-going, all-inclusive gospel has made him a spiritual rock star. He’s unrelentingly positive, more Norman Vincent Peale than Pat Robertson. His deliberately non-judgemental sermons … have made him into a best-selling author who is even popular among agnostics and atheists. Osteen’s positive messages–recent sermon topics include ‘Having Confidence in Yourself’ and ‘Stop Listening to the Accusing Voices’–have helped make him a religious everyman. He touts a loving God. There is no condemnation. No talk of judgment or damnation’ (‘God’s Cheerleader,’ St. Petersburg Times, Nov. 26, 2006, p. 10A).
Osteen is no doubt sincere in what he is doing, but he is sincerely and terribly wrong. The Lord Jesus Christ was a fire and brimstone preacher, and every God-ordained preacher is commanded to preach the Word with ‘reproof, rebuke, and exhortation’ (2 Timothy 4:2). The Scriptures warn that ‘many will turn away their ears from the truth in the last days and after their own lusts will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears’ (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Sadly, that is exactly what America’s favourite pastor is doing. He is scratching the itching ears of those who have rejected the plain teaching of the Bible and desire, instead, a new type of Christianity, one with a smiley face, one that allows them to live pretty much as they please, to follow their own lusts, and still feel that they are right with God. Significantly, Osteen’s nickname is the ‘smiling preacher.’
Pastor David Cloud’s report can be viewed on
Earlier in the report I highlighted some comments by Joel Osteen in red – they were –
‘when I took over from my father he came from the Southern Baptist background and back 40, 50 years ago’
Joel Osteen’s father was John Osteen who pastored the church that Joel now pastors. Joel’s comments may mistakenly lead people to think that for all his pastoral life that his father was a typical ‘Southern Baptist’ pastor. That is not the case. I have in my ‘library’ a number of booklets authored by John Osteen.
One of those (1981) booklets is entitled ‘Four Principles In Receiving From God.’ On the back cover we read this –
‘John Osteen has served as pastor, evangelist, author and teacher for some five decades. Ordained as a Southern Baptist he received the baptism in the Holy ghost in 1958, an experience which revolutionised his ministry into a worldwide outreach for Jesus Christ…taking the message of God’s love, healing and power to people of all nations. Today John Osteen pastors Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas…John Osteen holds a Bachelor’s Degree from John Brown University, a Master’s Degree from Northern Baptist Seminary, a Doctor of Letters from Indiana Christian University and a Doctor of Divinity from Oral Roberts University.
Oral Roberts was of course identified with the unscriptural ‘Word-Faith’ Movement championed by amongst others the late Kenneth Hagin Snr. So what does John Osteen reveal and teach in his ‘Four Principles In Receiving From God’ booklet? Herewith are some extracts from it –
‘Are you in need of a miracle today?…you can receive by following four basic principles from God’s Word…  FIND A BIBLE VERSE ON WHICH TO FIRMLY BASE YOUR FAITH…If you are praying for physical health, God says “I have made you healthy and whole”. As it is written, “With is stripes we are healed” [Isaiah 53:5] [Cecil – This verse does not deal with “physical health” but with healing from the spiritual consequences of “transgressions” and “iniquities” that are mentioned in the verse]…Whatever you need, this is your blank check “As it is written I have made you __________”. Just fill in the blank with whatever it is you need. If what you need is written in the Bible, you can receive it…You say, “I want to pay off all my bills”. God says “I have made you free of all debt. I have made you prosperous…God makes alive dead bodies, dead limbs, dead minds, dead pocketbooks, dead emotions…He can make your pocketbook that has died a natural death rise up and wave green hands [dollar bills?] saying “I’m alive”… WHEN YOU ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED, BE SPECIFIC…Do not just ask for general, overall blessings of God. Be specific!…Do you want God to bless your pocketbook?…You must be specific…If you say, “Oh God, bless me financially,” that’s no prayer. Ask for the specific amount of money you need. You must know exactly what you really want… YOU MUST HAVE A BURNING DESIRE FOR THE THING YOU ASK OF GOD…On one occasion our church was believing God for two cows for an upcoming convention…I had my verse to stand on, Psalm 50:10…So I claimed that scripture and asked God specifically for two cows…As time passed without any apparent results in my spirit I really gave up my desire…God gave me a dream…I noticed that two snakes had swallowed something and had huge bulges. I began to examine one of the snakes and discovered there was a cow inside it. I looked at the other snake and there was a cow inside it too. God said to me, “You let the devil eat your two cows…If I’d held on to my confession and resisted the devil all the way, I would have gotten those two cows…if you continue to believe God for those one or two specific things that burn within you, then they will be constantly unfolding to you. You will continually experience God’s blessing and provision  SEE YOURSELF AS ALREADY HAVING THE THINGS YOU’VE ASKED OF GOD [occult visualisation] AND CONFESS THAT YOU HAVE THEM…You have to see yourself with those things for which you have prayed…You have to believe on the inside that they are yours already…You have to receive on the inside before you can receive on the outside…You see you must get what you desire inside your heart and in your mind before you will ever receive it from God. You must see yourself with it!…You have to VISUALISE God’s promises to you…You must see yourself with whatever you want from God…What is it you definitely, specifically want? WRITE IT DOWN. Then find a scripture in God’s Word that promises you that thing. And then receive it as a VISION on the inside. VISUALISE everything as though it were already that way…Now the second part of this principle is to call things that are not as though they are…you have to start speaking and talking as though what you see in your vision is an actual reality…You must start calling and talking as though what you see in your vision is ALREADY SO!…Whatever you need to receive from God begin to see yourself with it in your possession right now…Then talk like it is already so…You can have anything you want’.
This then is the type of preaching young Joel would have sat under for most if not all of his life – a far cry from traditional ‘Southern Baptist’ preaching and teaching. I examined this matter of ‘guaranteed physical healing’ in an article I wrote some years ago called ‘Joyce Meyer and Healing’ and that article can be viewed on –
Pastor Ken Silva of ‘Apprising Ministries’ [one of our website links] has posted the following link to a YouTube excerpt from a sermon preached by Joel Osteen that encapsulates virtually all that this article is seeking to warn people to ‘Take Heed’ of. The link on Ken Silva’s website is –
Please pray that the people of Northern Ireland will exercise Biblical discernment when deciding whether or not to attend this meeting at the Belfast Odyssey and pray also that God would truly enlighten Joel Osteen to the truth of what it really means to be a Christian
Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 20 May 2007