You know those moments on TV sitcoms when the parent walks in on their teenage child to see something awkward or even something that their child should not be doing? Or maybe they find out some gut-wrenching news that their son has been selling marijuana or their daughter has went wayward. Those moments always tend to make us cringe while watching. Some of us have even lived through it. Well this weekend I got to experience this, firsthand, from the parental perspective.
It was Sunday morning in the Johnson household and we were all getting ready for church. With my pajamas still on, I walked into my parents’ room. And there I saw. There it freakin’ was. My mother… as she was getting dressed for church…. was watching a Joel Osteen sermon on the television!!! OMGGG!!! I could hear his soothing, charming voice and see his masterful charisma onstage. Time seemed to slow down as my adrenaline began rapidly pumping. Needless to say, I subtly flipped out, turned the channel, and stared at my mother in awe.
Ok, all jokes aside….I really was worried and had all these emotions boiling up inside me. My mother and I had to pause from preparing for church – and instead had a deep 20 minute conversation about Joel Osteen’s type of ministry, the destructive repercussions of it, and why all of that is so monumentally important.
Joel Osteen’s type of ministry is a purposeful combination of a prosperity, self-help, heretical, wishy-washy, and positive-thinking legalistic teaching. He has said on national television that he takes certain scriptures and morphs them for his own style of teaching. Now I would not mind my mother watching him and learning what he teaches….that is, if her eternal soul did not depend on it. His teaching, as Colossians 2:4 puts it, will dilute her faith and deceive her away from knowing the true God of the scriptures. This is why there are numerous real pastors/believers/theologians/bloggers out there that constantly publicly callout Osteen. We are called to watch out for one another. Pastors are called to shepherd the flock and protect the sheep from the wolves; Matthew 7:15; 2 Peter 2. If there was a physical wolf around your loved ones, would you not attempt do something about it?
Now the question becomes, but “why is Joel Osteen’s ministry labeled as flawed?”
That question can be answered in a plethora of ways. I am not a theologian, but I can write a 200 page book that very thoroughly dissects why this is so…but this is only a blog AND I’m in the middle of watching Season 4 of One Tree Hill and I’ve got to get back to it eventually. For simplistic sake,
- Joel Osteen never teaches on the Gospel.
- He never mentions Christ dying for our sins.
- He never even says the word sin – unlike the Apostle Paul who mentions it all the time (And the Spirit who came for that exact proclaiming purpose; John 16:8).
- Osteen never preaches on the Cross.
- There is never a time when the listener is confronted with reproof, correction, or conviction (2 Tim. 3:16) which leads to holiness and everlasting joy in Christ.
The church and it’s orthodox teaching has been booming for 2000 years now, but the Prosperity Gospel has just began over the past 50 years. Aren’t elderly people always saying ‘their ain’t nothin’ new under the sun, unless it’s wrong.’ I heard another quote recently that said,
“The more people read their Bibles, the more that the attendance would decrease in prosperity and lukewarm churches”.
With all this said, my main concern is for the people that listen to the messages. In that moment with my mother, I was only angry with Joel Osteen for less than 5 minutes. On the other hand, I was and have been, ceaselessly worried and fearful for my brothers and sisters in Christ who are under his influence. The Bible does not simply describe the church as singular, individual locations: 1 Corinthians 1:2 describes the church as the entire city. Acts 9:31 describes it as the entire region of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. If you read the context, Ephesians 5:25 describes the church as ALL believers, EVERYWHERE, over ALL time. Unity Unity Unity. Therefore, our calling to guard our fellow believers and churchmen spreads much further than a church building. So calling out Joel Osteen’s ministry is not anywhere off-limits, biblically. This is especially true when his messages and books are reached all over the world in overwhelming numbers.
Lastly, some people may justify his preaching by claiming that at least people are somehow hearing “about” God. God works everything, including Osteen’s ministry, for a reason. Why yes, that is true. He is sovereign. But….hmmm…I think that after 9/11 occurred, thousands of people somehow found Christ all around the world. Amongst tragedy, their eyes and hearts were opened in many different ways and circumstances to start following Jesus. There are tragedies everyday that God uses to turn people’s hearts to himself. Newtown, Columbine, deadly natural disasters, etc…. but coincidentally, no one encourages more tragedies to occur. No one is willing to just sweep them under the rug because God is working through them. In the same way that we rebuke tragedies because they are foreign to our core being, we should rebuke false teaching because it is foreign to how God designed us to live and it belittles our Father. May I never risk my mother’s eternal soul by allowing her to be encircled by wolves. One’s soul is not something to play with. I pray that someone in Osteen’s church reads this. If so, I love you so much. Please be careful how you listen. And Joel, I have much love for you too. I pray for you.
P.S.: I attempted to research what the atheist community’s thoughts are on Joel Osteen, but I yielded nothing. Seems like they do not even have time to mock him, since he’s no threat to them. However, I did find an atheist Facebook group that thought he was awesome. It is a sad oddity when atheists do not even take their time out to hate on your ministry.
Is it right to call people or pastors out for falsity?? Yes, the Bible commands of it. Also, the Apostle Paul did it numerous times. These two reasons are both found in:
Acts 20:26-30; Colossians 2:8; 1 Timothy 1:19,20; 1 Timothy 4:6-16; 1 John 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:2; 2 Timothy 4:14; Titus 2:15; Proverbs 27:5; 3 John 1:9; Matthew 23: 27,28,33