Why pick on Joel Osteen?  We believe he is one of the most dangerous men of the prosperity gospel crowd.  He has achieved great success.  Barbara Walters called him one of the “10 most fascinating people of 2006”.  That same year he was chosen as the “Most Influential Christian of 2006” by the readers of Church Report Magazine.  Osteen is a media darling and is interviewed by the likes of Larry King and most other talk/news shows.

We have met Christians of orthodox evangelical churches who absolutely love Joel Osteen.  So, he has done an excellent job of conning the faithful.  But what is even more worrisome is that he is conning those outside of the faith.  Dee is very good friends with a Hindu cardiologist.  She has been sharing the faith of the Scriptures with him for years.  He told her that he already believes in the Christian faith as well as Hinduism.  Why?  Because he follows Joel Osteen!  He enjoys his speeches and attends his conferences whenever he is in the area.  His most damning comment is the following.  He said that Osteen expresses just about everything that Hindus believe.  This alone should send chills up and down the spines of faithful Christians.

Our question is this — is our Hindu friend correct?  We believe that to a large extent he is and will prove why all faithful Christians should reject Osteen and his spiritual nonsense.  Harsh?  We don’t think so.  When a false gospel is preached as truth, many people will be led away from the simplicity and beauty of the Gospel of Jesus.  And that fact alone should motivate us to speak out against false teaching.

Dee still remembers the first time she saw and heard Osteen preach.  He came off as smarmy, arrogant, and just a little too perfect.  He had a perfectly white smile, a very expensive suit, and he exuded self-assurance.  He seemed to be promising his perfect life to a group of people who are looking for guarantees of health, wealth, and love.  Yet, his message seems strangely unrelated to the stories of saints of the Scriptures.  Do things my way, he seemed to imply, and you, too, will have perfect teeth, impeccable outfits, wonderful families, and lots of moola!  Funny, who in Scripture had a perfect life?   Jesus, who was God in the flesh, certainly did not!   Yet, this is what this pretty boy is promising.

There are many biographies of Joel Osteen.  We found a pretty succinct one at an interesting site called “Who2?”.  All of the information in this biography tracks very well with a myriad of other sites. http://www.who2.com/joelosteen.html

Joel Osteen inherited Houston’s Lakewood Church and its television ministry in 1999 from his late father John Osteen.  Joel expanded both the church and the TV ministry, wrote a hugely popular book in 2004, and then took his smiling good looks and “live at your full potential” message on the road to sold-out sports arenas.  Osteen says God wants to show “incredible favor” to those who “start expecting God’s blessings, start anticipating promotion and supernatural increase” in all areas of life.  Osteen has neither a college nor a seminary degree.  He studied briefly at Oral Roberts University, then worked behind the scenes in Lakewood’s TV ministry until his father’s death in 1999.  He gave up his $200,000 church salary in 2005, after Your Best Life Now (Warner Faith) had become a New York Times best-seller.  In 2006, with 3 million hardcover copies of that book sold, he reportedly signed a multi-million-dollar deal with Free Press, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, for future work.  His critics range from fundamentalists who say he is soft on sin to evangelicals and liberals who say “prosperity preaching” is at odds with Jesus’ life and teachings.

Extra credit: According to the Houston Chronicle, Osteen was ordained a minister “by Lakewood’s six-member board” in a private 1992 ceremony… His ministry, not affiliated with any particular Christian denomination, remains a family affair.  As co-pastor, Joel’s wife, Victoria, appears with him at Sunday services in Houston’s 16,000-seat Compaq Center and on the road. Lakewood’s staff includes Osteen’s mother, brother, sister, and brother-in-law…  In 2006, Victoria was fined $3,000 by the Federal Aviation Administration for an alleged 2005 altercation with Continental Airlines flight attendants over a spill.”

There are several interesting facts.  As previously mentioned, Osteen has no college degree, reportedly dropping out of college after approximately 1 ½ years and went to work at his daddy’s church.  He also has no seminary training.  Osteen’s lack of academic training is readily apparent in many of his pronouncements, which we will be exploring.  When his father died Joel took over the pulpit, reportedly growing the church from 6,000 members to 30,000 members today. (equip.org)  As our dear readers know, TWW (The Wartburg Watch) believes such numbers to be highly suspect.  However, it is safe to say that his church is both large and has a lot of attendees on Sunday mornings.

There is no question that Osteen is a charismatic individual, but being popular and attracting money does not mean that God is on your side.   Historical figures such as Hitler and John Edwards (sorry folks, we’re from North Carolina and needed to get that in because he has become an embarrassment to our state) demonstrate this quite clearly.  Remember, Lucifer himself is quite attractive to some and is a master deceiver.  In fact, it is concerning to this blog that many “Christians” seem to use church size, along with lots of church money, to “prove” God’s favor.  The Son of Man favored His disciples and most went on to lead a life that some would characterize as difficult.  Many became martyrs and did not have bright white smiles.

Osteen has given up his church salary.  Big deal!  This guy is raking in the cash from his books and road shows.  His church provides him with a venue from which to develop his books and “speeches” (We just can’t bear the thought of calling them sermons).

Please note that his so-called “ordination” was an inside job.  In fact, his wife is a “pastor” as well.  TWW could not find any source that discussed her ordination.  She attended University of Houston and does not appear to have any theological training herself.  Our guess is the same group of six theologically challenged sycophants (whoops- we mean the six-member Lakewood church board) probably ordained her as well.

Osteen has hired his mother, brother, sister, and brother-in-law to work on the church staff.  Throw in his wife as a co-pastor and we have a very nice family affair masquerading as a New Testament church.  Pastors need to be held to a high level of accountability.  Even the law recognizes that wives cannot be forced to testify against ones’ spouse.  Why?  Because of the human quality of being willing to lie to protect one’s immediate family.  Also, how does someone go to a pastor and complain about the actions of Joel’s sister or mother for that matter?!!!

Approximately six months ago TWW did a post called “Frat Boys in the Pulpit”.  Here is the incredible link we included in that post.


It is very short and eye opening! In this clip, Ed Young, Jr. imitates Joel Osteen and Joel joins in for a “chuckle.”  TWW finds this video ill-advised and thinks the “boys” should be ashamed of themselves.  They joke around with the Bible, shamefully waving it about in the air, and dissolving into self assured giggles.  Perhaps this video spells out what the underlying problem is.  There appears to be an abysmal lack of understanding of the Word of God. It has been replace by “Joelspeak”.  In other words, if he says it, it must be true.  Perhaps people want to believe that we can have it all.  That this is really “our best life now.”  TWW prefers to believe, along with Scripture, that our best life, in terms of health and wealth, awaits us in eternity.  Our best life now is mixed up with living in a fallen world.  Yet our Lord uses all events for His perfect purposes.  This means that there will be pain and heartache in this world.  But, as our Lord reassures us, one day all will be made right.

Finally, we anticipate some who will say that Joel Osteen says some good things.  We agree.  He says “some” things well.  Yet, so does everybody, including the unsaved.  What is extremely concerning to us is how asinine Scriptural interpretation can be hidden within a veneer of “nice” things.

Tomorrow, we will look at some of Osteen’s views and pronouncements.


“JOELSPEAK” — PART 1 — 3 Comments

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    I want to start out by thanking you for your ministry and for championing discernment in our daily Christian walks.

    However, I have to disagree with your critique of the Youtube video featuring Ed Young Jr. and Joel Osteen. What I saw was a couple of pastors joking around (a little humility), ending with a good message that all pastors should hear (do not copy other pastors). While it was a little cheesy (and not that funny), I thought it was a good way to open a pastors conference (which is what it seemed to be).

    I was not seeing the mocking of the Word of God, rather the self-mocking of eccentricities and traits that some well-known pastors have, and other pastors try to emulate. Could you please expound on what you did not like?


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    Hi Derek
    Thanks for your comment. Perhaps I have an inside bead on this situation because I know Ed Young Jr. Young would copy anyone if he thought it would bring him notoriety. For example, he was not the first one to promote the “Let’s have sex for a week” sermon.He took this from other pastors who got newspaper mention for their topic.

    I was also present the day he presented a sermon that Bill Hybels had given but presented it as his own. I was standing in line when a former member of Hybels church said, ” Good sermon. I even liked it better the second time than the first time I heard it at Willowcreek”.

    Now, he is latching onto Osteen. Osteen has more members than Young-an emergency in Young’s book. He knows that Osteen is not preaching orthodox theology. Young is Southern Baptist. He should know better. However, before I left Dallas, Young was quoted as saying, in the Dallas Morning News, “Doctrine is not important. It just confuses people.” Real thoughtful, huh?

    Young has publicly whined when pastors have left and some of “his” flock followed him.Poor baby, 20,000 is not enough to sooth his ego.

    I respectfully disagree with you. These guys are hardly self-mocking. neither of them is mature enough to laugh at themselves.Osteen is playing at Christianity and Young hangs where the attention is. They act like Frat Boys in the Pulpit. Now that I am recuperating from my surgery, I will be working at getting our archives transferred into this new format and brushing things up. When that occurs in the next couple of seeks, just enter “Frat Boys in the Pulpit.” We have written extensively about these two in the past.

    Thank you for your input.

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    Thanks for the reply and your elaboration. I accept your comments because your “inside bead”. Personal knowledge of a pastor is crucial in judging their fruit. When someone like me (who is looking in- somewhat objectively) reads a post like that, it can seem like harsh criticism. However, I need to understand the personal experiences of the bloggers before passing judgment (unlike the many mean-spirited “Christians” who harassed FBC Jax Watchdog when he began blogging).

    Thanks for your ministry and the interesting articles.