On judging Joel Osteen

On judging Joel Osteen

Illustration by Henry Charles Seppings-Wright, Vanity Fair. Wikimedia Commons.

It turns out that criticizing Joel Osteen ruffles feathers. Perhaps this shouldn’t surprise. His congregation is more than forty-thousand strong, his sermons air worldwide, and his book sales are stratospheric. He’s got more than a few fans available to take offense at someone holding his feet to the fire.

In response to my piece Friday, “The insufferable Joel Osteen,” several people said that I was “judging” Osteen, which is a considerable no-no. I was told I should be ashamed and that I should apologize.

But not so fast.

Is saying that a man is wrong “judging” him? “Judge not, that you be not judged,” said Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7.1). But was the Lord saying that we should suspend our critical faculties? Was he saying that we should not correct others, an action that necessitates judging whether something is right or wrong? I don’t see how that’s possible since Paul directly tells Timothy to “[R]eprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4.2). It’s safe to say that Christ and his foremost apostle are singing from the same hymnal. Perhaps this all a bit more nuanced than not voicing a negative opinion about what another Christian says.

Importantly, I was not judging Osteen in the sense of identifying and condemning him for his sins, let alone calling his salvation into question. I was identifying an egregious theological error (equating Mormonism and Christian belief) and saying that he was not fit for his current job, points that are at least arguable if not self-evident. Since Paul clearly tells us that a minister of the gospel needs to have his doctrinal ducks in a row, this error seems like a big deal.

“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke [there's that word again] those who contradict it” (Tit. 1.9).

Osteen flunks the test. He said that Mormons believe the same “core” teachings that Christians do. By any reading of their doctrinal statements or history, they clearly do not. Mormons follow another faith altogether at best or are at worst a new spin on the ancient heresy of Arianism (teaching that Jesus is a created being, something that Mormons confess). For Osteen to get this wrong is to be either negligent or ignorant — neither of which are okay for a man in his position.

Rebuking Osteen for making such an error is hardly an error unto itself. Is he not responsible for his pronouncements, accountable for what he says? Equating Mormonism and orthodox Christianity is wrong and reproachful. He deserves to have people call him on it.

If this were any other area of life, you can be sure we’d apply a different standard. Had Osteen, for example, suggested that taxes be increased (or lowered), that Occupy Wall Street protesters are justified (or not), or that Steve Jobs was the greatest (or most overrated) innovator of the last century, hackles and howls would rise from one quarter or another — and no one would suggest it was wrong to criticize him for his utterances, let alone say that the critic was in sin.

Yet we are to believe that if his statements are religious, then they are untouchable? That can’t be right. Given the gravity of theological or doctrinal statements, shouldn’t they be more seriously, critically, heavily scrutinized? Of course. As John says in his first letter, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4.1). Is testing judging? In a sense, but apparently not in the sense Jesus forbids because John here commands it. So we test the spirits. And what do we do with spirits that don’t pass the test? We call them out and reject them.

Directly following his directions to rebuke and reprove, Paul tells Timothy this: “[T]he time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4.3-4).

At the risk of incurring further wrath, let me say what is increasingly obvious to me: Osteen sounds conspicuously like one of these teachers. When I hear Joel Osteen, I don’t hear the gospel. I hear American materialism and shallow self-actualization dressed up like the gospel. I could be wrong, and God forgive me if I am, but that’s how I see it.

At the very least he is ill-equipped to serve and speak as he does. And saying as much is not shameful, nor does it deserve an apology.


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53 Responses to On judging Joel Osteen

  1. Joel, you have asked (and answered) one question: does Osteen preach the gospel of Christ or does he not? That is an altogether appropriate question to ask about a person whose congregation is 40,000 strong and whose preaching is televised worldwide.

  2. Tom Hoffman says:

    On this very point, the Apostle James says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” Neither does he apologize for the judgment or the strictness, but rather suggests that this is as it should be.

    • Tom, that’s a very humbling verse, one I think about as a blogger.

    • M. Cole says:

      You make a good point. Did you see the Lakewood Church live webcast on Oct. 30? Joel Osteen had a guest speaker that day. It was the Singaporean preacher Joseph Prince.

      Joseph Prince said to Joel Osteen, “You need to teach your people, Bro!” You can see the comment and context on Youtube at about 6 minutes and 15 seconds through the video:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSLx3-MYEHY
      (retrieved Nov 5, 2011)

      • my says:

        @ M. Cole :the video has been removed. @ Joel : Amen to you Bro. Joel ! This is a great thread. Never compromise God’s word. Grace be with you!

  3. Ally Garner says:

    Joel, it’s not that you criticized Joel Osteen. It’s *the way* you did it that was so unsettling. I was appalled frankly. You repeatedly insulted him and wrote with such condescension and derision of a man you’ve never met and know very little about personally. You came off as a petulant, arrogant child. And there’s just no cause for that behavior from someone who claims to be a Christ follower. No one is immune to criticism, including Joel Osteen, but you can and should do it in a more appropriate manner. You do owe him an apology and I hope you’re man enough, honest enough, and humble enough to give it.

    • Ally, thank you, but we’ll have to disagree on this point. I don’t think there was anything wrong with my tone or method. As I told another commenter, a stern word is not necessarily a bad word. I think that’s true for a flippant and sarcastic word, too. You can’t hold me to a higher standard than the Bible itself. Read Elijah’s mockery of the prophets of Baal. Paul, for another example, calls people empty-talkers, deceivers, liars, and more (Titus 1.10-13). In Galatians 3 he calls the church members there stupid (or foolish, depending on translation) and in Galatians 5 he flat-out says that he wishes that his opponents (who were professed Christians, mind you) would castrate themselves. I only suggested that Osteen get a job at Hallmark.

      • It is increasingly common for people to take issue with “the way” something is said. Usually, it’s just a dodge to avoid the content. If I can write off the messenger, I can evade the message.
        For my part, I appreciated both the message and the tone of the original post. “Insufferable” seems a charitable assessment for someone who has so thoroughly enfeebled his audience with his happy-happy message.

    • Don at Lakewood says:

      Ally, consider this: In 2005, Sam Moore, who was then the president of Thomas Nelson and the man who hired Mike Hyatt, who in turn, hired Joel Miller, approached Joel Osteen in the lobby of a Southern California hotel and told Osteen that he would love to have him as one of T.N.’s authors. Ultimately, Osteen did not sign on with T.N. but instead with another publisher.
      Millions of sold books later wde could ask, is Joel Miller motivated by sour grapes and vindictiveness? If Osteen had signed with T.N. would Joel Miller have had the guts to post the offensive photo of Osteen that he did? T.N. has other authors who Joel Miller disagrees with and could easily smear in the same fashion, but he doesn’t. Ask yourself why?

  4. Forrest Long says:

    Joel Osteen needed to be called into account for such a statement about the Mormons and you were right to do so. He is a man who is held in high regard by many professing Christians and although we may not agree with his style of Christianity or his ‘feel good’ message, to make the statement he did about Mormons shows either his ignorance of their doctrine or his disregard for historic Christian doctrine. You don’t owe an apology for anything from what I can see.

  5. Joel, I think that you are on to something here- what would Lewis or Chesterton think of Osteen? If the Gospel is about a 10% increase in happiness, I want out. From my reading of the Gospels and the Tradition of the Church, being a Christian is about much more- a life transformed.

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Shon says:

    Joel – This was a nice follow up to your first post. Thanks for taking the time to go deeper with this topic. And again, I appreciate how you’re handling the comments. I agree, I don’t think you owe an apology. I think Osteen owes an apology to the millions that are getting puffed up with fluff by his books and broadcasts. I remember when his first book came out – 7 steps to whatever – and in an interview he was asked if only Christians would benefit from the book. Osteen said no – that nonbelievers could greatly benefit from it. Being a Christian wasn’t required to have “Your best life now.” And this seems to fit his entire philosophy – it’s a gospel of “positive attitude.” Being a Christian doesn’t matter, but having the right attitude does.

  7. Matt Brown says:

    Good stuff Joel

  8. Doc B says:

    If you have ever written on Osteen and were not criticized, you haven’t done your job as a writer nor as a critical thinker.

  9. Dino Rizzo says:

    Again you write about a man of God u know zero about . I am shocked that Thomas Nelson would have these thoughts to say about a pastor that helped plant our church and had poured out Jesus to so many homeless & single moms & widows that we serve . This whole dialogue speaks of your organizations jealousy for pastor Joels success , still shocked your authority would let u do such a thing. Won’t let u say things like that keep my mouth shut , dead wrong at so many levels

  10. Bobby says:

    Its not the topic of doctrinal issues that is the concern, its the demeaning hurtful way you have written about a leader.

    The scriptures are to be used to mentor, train and instruct, not to tear down. You want to educate or inform your audience that understandable and your right, but Jesus said the greatest is LOVE. Our responsibilities as leaders is to “filter” our opinions through love and the TRUTH will stand on its own. But you had NO filter. (not Christ like)

    And honestly, don’t flatter yourself..you would be blowing dust off your blog had it not been for the influential leader you work for ..Michael Hyatt

    enjoy your 15 mins!!

  11. Kevin Gerald says:

    1)Joel Osteen is clearly a fully committed follower of Jesus and has led more people to Jesus in one night than you will in your lifetime. He’s on record as saying many times that Jesus is the way to salvation.
    2)You didn’t call Joel into ministry-God did.
    3)Who made you the pastor patrol? If Joel needs correction there’s certainly people much more qualified and skillful than you.
    4)The pic, the tone, your hate, your distortion of truth about him are in huge violation of many scriptures.
    5)Joel teaches a lot like Jesus who said “let not your heart be troubled” ‘Fear not” “Cheer up” “Have faith in God” ‘Speak to the Mountain” ‘You are the light of the world”…And you sound like the Pharisees who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel….who criticized Jesus saying he was unfit for ministry because he was eating with sinners and not making his disciples wash their hands.
    If Thomas Nelson is a Christian publisher it needs to hire people with more honor, ethics, principle and good judgment. Your “sucker punch” style of attack is unfair and untrue.

  12. Camille says:

    No matter how angry his followers are…Joel’s that is..you spoke what is true. Bravo! no matter how angry or rude or beside they point they are…You knew they would write and you wrote anyway.

  13. michael saxton says:

    You are comparing Mormonism to the wrong heresy it shoud be the gnostics and not Arianism because the Jehovah Witnesses are the closest to arianism today.

    • Mormons’ belief in a multiplicity of gods definitely hearkens back to the gnostics and their dizzying array of Aeons, but I was primarily thinking of the Arian trope, “There was a time when the son of God was not.” For Mormons that applies as well.

      • Dan says:

        No, it does not exactly apply to Mormons. Jesus is eternal. You remind me of my father who knows enough about using his PC to be dangerous. You do know some things about Momonism, but not enough of the nuances to know that your statement isn’t 100% correct.

      • Dan, I never suggested that I know everything about Mormonism, but I know enough to know that it cannot in any legitimate sense be called Christian.

      • WRBurton says:

        As one who was weaned on Walter Martin’s “Kingdom of the Cults” when I was a new believer, I became pretty engrossed in learning all I could about Mormonism. No question in my mind that it’s origins were occultic and fraudulent. That said, they have changed their own scriptures and doctrines so much over the last 170 years in an attempt to mainstream, that many modern Mormon’s probably don’t even know what they were in the beginning. God does not judge us in groups. He judges us as individuals. If an individual, even if they are part of a sect we would consider a cult, professes to believe in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for their sins and rose from the grave, the Bible clearly states that they are saved. While I would be the first to encourage them to come out to fellowship with like believers, I would be the LAST to judge their profession as insincere or inadequate.

  14. supersimbo says:

    gosh!

    thanks for these posts…

    I said this and the abuse/criticism was just delightful…
    http://www.supersimbo.com/2011/10/joel-osteen-some-set-of-teeth/

    the worst of it was private on twitter but boys oh, people don’t like when you call up this clown!

  15. Andrew Beltz says:

    Don’t know anything about Joel Osteen? As if he hasn’t been broadcasting his teachings all over the known world in his books and television programs. “By their fruit you will recognize them,” and I recognize Mr. Osteen by his admission that he really didn’t know the distinctions between Biblically orthodox Christians and Mormons. Bravo, Joel. Keep it up. Osteen’s 40,000 are lapping up theoligical milk at the feet of an ear-tickling preacher.

  16. Robin says:

    Do you not think that this vein of conversation that personally attacks Joel Osteen breaks the very heart of God? I know it does mine. I do not disagree with your assessment of Mormonism. I do however greatly disagree with your method by using Joel Osteen as your target.

    I realize that this is your personal blog and you may or may not realize that it reflects on your employer…your employer that publishes Christian books. We could question your motives for posting this blog…Could it be controversy? Possible book sales? Publicity? One can only guess as to what is in your heart and what your intent is. Much like you and Mr. Mohler can only assume, guess and judge and put in to print what you believe Joel Osteen is all about simply because he is not ministering in the manner you deem acceptable.

    Do you even know this man? Have you read any of his books or his daily devotionals? You already said that you have not read his book, so then how is it possible that you can make an assessment with only a portion of the information? And then, you really only have your own opinion on the content.

    Joel Osteen speaks life and he pulls the elements of hope, love and the promises of God out of the Word and highlights it for all to see. His gift is clearly to encourage people. To let them know how fearfully and wonderfully made they are. He speaks to the greatness that God has put into every person. He let’s people know that God has a plan and a purpose for each and every person. He brings hope through the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that ANYBODY can understand. Perhaps, because he can break it down to where the unsaved, un churched, lost, broken, hurting world understands that there is HOPE…perhaps this is what is throwing you off. People are getting saved. The fruit is plain for all to see.

    I for one am stunned that you would publicly attempt to harm a man of God. I think you should consider what God has to say about this.

    • 1 Thessalonians 2:4 NLT
    For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.
    • Philippians 1:18 NLT
    But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.

    • I think it breaks the heart of God when his ministers do not know enough or care enough to stand for the truth of the gospel. I think it breaks the heart of God when his ministers misrepresent the claims of the gospel. Joel Osteen does both.

      • Joy says:

        Agree 100%

        I think what is sad is how ministers (Perceived as the “highest calling” according to scripture)
        And then to not take a stand because trying to be politically correct? Very sad indeed.

      • Ashlee says:

        Wow! I Wish that you would have also included all that Joel Osteen does for his church, community, and the world before making such bold statements about his inability to pastor at a church.

        Did you know ….
        *that his church gives thousands of dollars to mission work every year?
        *that his church has leadership programs for kids where they are taught the word of God, memorize scripture, and learn how to serve in the church with a humble heart. They also raised over 13,000 last year for mission work in Kenya
        * the church does mission work in the community every month for single parents, the homeless, food banks, orphans
        * Joel’s brother (one of the pastors at Lakewood) for 6 months out of the year does medical missions in Africa
        * Joel’s mom prays for sick people in the hospital every month and has prayer services at the church once a month as well. One of which is for parents with special needs
        * there are awesome classes designed specifically for kids with special needs at all the services (this is definitely a ministry that can’t pay the church back)
        * there are Spanish speaking services at Lakewood, a much needed ministry that most English speaking churches would never even think about touching
        * there are New Beginning classes that Joel tells everyone about at the end of the service for people to attend to learn more about God, Jesus, and the Bible. After that 6 wk course is another 6 week course on the foundations of the Bible
        * there are several classes for married couples, people going through divorces, new parents, etc
        * there are Celebrate Recovery classes to help people who are struggling with addictions
        * every year the church offers free tax preparation to anyone who wants help
        * there is a Single parent ministry and every year there is a huge Christmas party for the kids where they leave with presents and their parents leave with hope.

        There are so many more ministries and ways Joel Osteen’s church reaches out to the world just like Jesus’ last commission to us. If you are thinking it would be difficult to find out this info, most of it is on Lakewood’s website so it’s not hard to investigate this.

        You said in one comment to basically not judge your blog on your comments about Joel Osteen, that if one read more they would see that you are much more irenicic. Well I would challenge you to investigate more on Joel Osteen and the fruit of what he does before you say he breaks the heart of God, make his face into the joker, and tell him to work for Hallmark!!!

        And on a side note I noticed that Dave Ramsey is one of your clients. He is a huge supporter of Joel Osteen. Dave has preached at Lakewood and Joel is a supporter of Dave’s new Great Debt Recovery Initiative. Joel did a promo for him that was on his website. Could this be a conflict of interest for you?

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  18. Jean says:

    Something I find interesting about the Osteen Packaging is the ever-present smile. I was doing research on an article I wrote about the power of smiling and came across an interesting little bit of science (or perhaps pseudo-science, but it’s interesting nonetheless). If you are feeling down and you fake a smile, say, at a passerby, endorphins will be released in your body as if you smiled for real and you will find you feel happier. The person you smiled at will also feel a surge of good-feelings, not only by seeing your smile but by smiling back. This is useful knowledge for those with good intentions as well as those with bad intentions. My son and husband saw Osteen on cable one Sunday afternoon and so, in the mood to watch a train-wreck, they turned up the volume. We had some other people over and everyone wandered to the set to see what fascinating insights Olsteen would have for us today. The man never stopped smiling; even when he talked about tragedy, that smile was there, toned down but there. Our family and friends are not fans of Osteen specifically because of his man-centered messages, but I looked around the room and saw that all the people in the room were SMILING a little while they listened to Osteen preach. People who do not agree with the man on a number of fronts and who heard him taking the most egregious doctrinal stances at that very moment were smiling. I realized that I, too, was smiling. The man makes people feel good by consistently telling his listeners that no matter what, God’s whole purpose in the world is to make all of us happy (regardless of what WE do), and Osteen cements this feel-good doctrine with his brilliant white smile. He’s no dummy: he appeals to Man’s basic arrogance, and smiles while he does it, thereby selling millions of books and conference tickets every year.

    • PhilipW says:

      That’s horrible – that he would smile so much!! That clearly make Osteen disqualified! Godly preachers must frown more, be angry, be more critical – that how you know you can trust them.

  19. p dare says:

    you totally just made my ‘attention grabbers’ section on my blog with this:

    “When I hear Joel Osteen, I don’t hear the gospel. I hear American materialism and shallow self-actualization dressed up like the gospel.”

    perfectly stated and we are not only allowed to warn others about this man, but we are commanded. thank you for your article.

  20. Johnny says:

    Joel, you’re right on as usual. Osteen has repeatedly said he is not a theologian, thereby demonstrating he is not fit for Christian ministry.

    He’s helped a lot of people. Great. So have the Mormons. That proves nothing but that he is a *charitable* man who is not fit to preach the Word.

    Someone said earlier that you should not criticize him, but should leave that to others more qualified. I would ask, who? His Bishop?

    Of course he’s a Christian. He’s a Christian in need of instruction from someone who knows the Bible, and in need of accountability to qualified elders.

  21. dino rizzo says:

    i still cant believe you have not apologized for what you have said and how you attacked pastor joel , i guess thomas nelson must be very hard on times for this type of pub.but given its current state of affairs this blog may not be up much longer , and your wrong wrong wrong for the things you have said , u wont get away with that down here.

  22. Very polite, well argued, to the point and spot on!!
    With reference to “When I hear Joel Osteen, I don’t hear the gospel. I hear American materialism and shallow self-actualization dressed up like the gospel. I could be wrong,…” I aver that you are not wrong in any aspect.
    Personally I never listen to the man – I reached your viewpoint withing seconds of hearing his voice for the first time.

  23. ads08545 says:

    This is not about Mr. Osteen, Joel.  This is about you.  Your behavior.  And the fact that you refuse to accept correction or honor any type of authority.  This is about your ego.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe Jesus wants any part of your parade.  And what’s sadder…I don’t believe you care.

    I see why the Word of God says for us to correct other believers in private.  Had you gone to Joel Osteen privately, you would not have made a circus of the Christian faith (according to some un-believers) and deterred those same un-believers from potentially opening their hearts to Christ because of your obvious contempt for another person.  Jesus would never have behaved this way Joel!  He would have seen that by publicly criticizing another believer (who leads people to Christ every day) it only detracts from the true message of Christ.  

    Okay. You disagree with Osteen.  That’s your right and you have made that fact very clear.  It’s what you DO with those next choices that matters. If you disagreed with Mr. Osteen, why not show yourself as a man of integrity and GO TO HIM as the Word instructs us to do (Matthew 18:15-17 “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense…).  Did you do this?  No.  And my question is WHY??  This doesn’t appear to be about right or wrong.  If it were, perhaps you would have had a real conversation with the other believer, made your opinion clear to him, prayed with him and perhaps agreed to disagree.  But that never happened.  Why are you so adamant?  Is it because it was Joel Osteen?  Had it been any other believer, would you have so publicly lashed him this way?  I believe not.  No.  You wouldn’t have made this such a personal attack – coloring Osteen’s hair and face.  (wow!  I’m amazed at the disrespect and desire to humiliate another human being).

    Why use your Christian-based platform to fire ammunition against another believer – whether you felt he was right or wrong.  Why show a picture of him with painted face, green hair and red lips?  If Bishop TD Jakes said something with which you disagreed, would you have painted a picture of him in black face?  (based on your behavior in this matter, I imagine you would try to justify and down-play that too).  How can you justify your behavior — not your STANCE.  Not your OPINION of what Osteen said.  But your BEHAVIOR?  Is this okay to teach our children?  When you stand face to face with Jesus, what will your excuse be for demeaning ANYONE when you could have GAINED souls and promoted the kingdom by taking a higher road.  Your behavior was belittling and disgusting … and I wish for you a more honorable “correction” than you have given to Joel Osteen.

    • We’re going to have to disagree on this obviously. As I said in the comment string on the original article, I have no obligation scriptural or otherwise to speak privately to Osteen. He spoke publicly and I answered publicly. He didn’t sin against me so Matthew 18 doesn’t really apply; he spoke falsely but did not sin against me. And further Matthew 18 assumes that there is a final authority in the church to which we could appeal (that’s why there’s the threat of excommunication there), and that clearly doesn’t exist in this situation. His elders should pull him aside and correct him; that’s fitting, but they likely won’t as they evidently agree with him.

  24. PhilipW says:

    Maybe you could consider a different but valid perspective – http://tinyurl.com/dxeu9uw

  25. ads08545 says:

    Joel, again, youre missing the point. Youre so busy intellectualizing and defending that you have yet to acknowledge your ACTIONS. Did your behavior further the kingdom? In ANY situation, is okay to take take a man’s picture and paint him in white face, red lips, green hair – obviously mocking and belittling him. What in God’s plan did that accomplish? Is that INTEGRITY? Is that GODLY?

    • It accomplished showing Osteen for what he is, a clown. It’s fine for you to say I’m missing the point, but we obviously disagree, so you’re not going to get much mileage reiterating the point. God forgive me if I’ve done wrong here, but I don’t think I have.

  26. Steve Fielder says:

    Amen Joel. In truth, we need a lot more people to publicly call out false teachers like Joel Osteen. There will always be those who take offense when their “ear tickling” health and wealth espousers like Osteen get categorized for what they are, but they should not deter the legitimate church from making the truth about false teachers known. Osteen may very well be a Christian, but it is certainly not evident from his prosperity based teaching and preaching.

  27. Abby says:

    Wow. I am late to the game here…but still felt a need to say something. There is so much contention on this blog, and I can tell so many people have been hurt, offended, or juiced up about being right. I have a foot in both camps as I enjoy Joel Miller’s take on things, and I have been personally enriched by some Osteen’s teachings. I really believe that Osteen reaches people that the Orthdox faith would not be able to reach. Osteen may preach Christianity “light,” but he preaches messages of hope, healing, and possibility–messages that people sorely need. Perhaps he is incorrect in his assessment of mormonism. My guess is that like many Christians, he is burdened by the concept “narrow is the way.” It is painful for many Christians to believe in orthodox doctrine that condemns other religious dominations that are filled with loving, well-intended folk. If he has made a mistake as a leader of God and as a teacher of the scriptures…so be it. Then he erred. He is human. My preference would be to err on the side of acceptance and hope that more people “squeak by” (even Mormons) than to condemn them for not believing the “right” things according to Christian doctrine. As professors of Christian faith we can be too comfortable deciding who’s “in” and who’s “out.”

  28. April says:

    I believe the Lord is grieved. Whether you have differences with Joel Osteen or not, there’s simply no place in the body of Christ for such bitter, vitriolic rhetoric. Our Lord is returning for a glorious church, not a church rife with division and hatred for others. When Jesus returns, will He find faith on the earth – or infighting amongst the church? Lord Jesus, forgive us and make us one.

    • April, I’m sorry you found my words offensive, but I wouldn’t characterize them as bitter or vitriolic. Osteen is a pastor, a Christian pastor, and therefore responsible to lead his flock in the truth of the gospel. For Osteen to publicly say (and again recently I should add) that there are no substantial differences between Christianity and Mormonism is inexcusable for a man in his position. It’s a betrayal of his position. If there is a rift with other Christians, Osteen is creating the distance. Writers like me are just noticing and describing it.

      That said, forgive me. I have no intention to offend. If I were writing the above piece today or the piece that that sparked it, I would likely do it differently. I’m sure the whole mess grieves Christ immeasurably.

  29. Thom says:

    I realize I’m chiming in a bit late here, but…I believe Mr. Miller is absolutely correct. Just because a mass of people have determined to follow Joel Osteen does not make him the greatest, most honest (and I mean the word to be taken as both a noun and adjective) person on the pulpit. People have a normal propensity to follow someone who has obtained a media spotlight. Silly, but unfortunately true.
    At any rate, people should remember that history has a nasty proclivity to repeat itself. And usually when it does the same signs were right there preceding the new event and were once again ignored by most. So look back on Ted Haggert and don’t forget that he too “always” smiled. He too said many things that contradicted the Word (watch “Constantine’s Sword” for some small insight). He too had thousands of people following his every word. He too had many devote ‘protectors’ of his character. Yet, his true character certainly surprised them, didn’t it!? And let’s not forget Jim Bakker or Terry Hornbuckle or the ‘oh so many’ others (http://www.gcmwatch.com/4873/“preachers-gone-wild-immorality-on-the-pulpit).
    Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t follow. I am saying that since we ‘will’ follow we must be vigilant, astute, and always open-minded for the contradictions, inconsistencies, and adverse-attributes that Mr. Miller is alluding to. In other words: we should never follow blindly.
    For instance; I watch Joseph Prince ‘religiously’ because I believe he’s the most perceptive and adducible minister out there. But this doesn’t mean that I’m not being alert for the concerns mentioned above or the argument that Mr. Miller poses. Knowing that I’m just one in a sea of sheep who could be led astray, I’m not going to put my guard down for another person. After all, it was always another person who takes misguided sheep over the cliff. I.E. Jim Jones, David Koresh, etc., etc.,
    Be ever faithful to God and His Word. Be watchful of man.

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