Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Joel Osteen on the Today Show

If, like me, you missed Katie Couric's interview with Joel Osteen this morning, you can view it here.

In addition to asking how he squares his lifestyle with what the Bible has to say about wealth, Katie queried Osteen about what the word "evangelical" means to him and why he has chosen to stay away from addressing controversial issues like abortion and homosexuality. Katie also read some comments from anonymous theologians critical of Osteen's ministry including one who charges him with using the Bible like a fortune cookie. Joel's response? People need to come to his church to see how lives are being changed. They deal with everyday, "rubber meets the road" kind of issues, not just "a lot of theology." I don't think Joel should sell himself short like that. He teaches a lot of theology. It's just bad.

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ernie the elf said...

Arrrgh, I watched it from your link. I do not want to sound mean, but for me it was the battle of creepy smiles and fake personas. They are cut from the same mold. Seeking popularity by a "winning" personality and little substance. If those are two successful people, I want to be a failure.

Thanks for calling his theology out, we put up with these frauds too much in the Christian world. It is interesting, if you watch it carefully, that he chokes on his words once. He did that also with Larry King. To his credit, I think that Joel knows that he is scamming and it really bothers him. That is just a guess, but it does give him hope for the future.
It is almost funny that biblical evangelicals put up with these type of people who end up crashing and burning like Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. The ultimate result is that Christ followers will be shamed by those who falsely represent us. Maybe there needs to be a board of true evangelicals which creates some kind of theological rating system and makes it known in some strong way. Maybe not.

KP said...


I hadn't thought about the similarity between Joel and Katie but now that you mention it, it makes sense to me. Both are well-trained in the art of portraying what the public wishes to see.

I did notice his choking in a similiar manner to his performance on the Larry King show. No doubt he learned from the flack he received for not clearly stating the gospel then, not to make the same mistake. It's obvious, however, that he is very uncomfortable addressing the exclusivity of Christianity or, for that matter, any controversial topic.

What struck me about his Today Show appearance is that Osteen considers humanity's problem as being fundamentally one of needing an encourager more than a redeemer from our wickedness and God's justice. In that sense, he reminds me very much of Robert Schuller. The reason questions about the content of the gospel catch him up short is because he is so unaccustomed to preaching the message of the cross.

I was thinking a lot today about his response to Couric's question about why he avoids controversial topics. He said that to address them would be a distracttion from what he believes he's called to do - encourage people. There are at least two problems with this. First, no pastor can choose to focus on only one element God has identified as a need of his people while neglecting others (e.g., admonition, correction, instruction, etc.) Second, biblical encouragement is not a Tony Robbins motivational talk but reminding believers of the gracious provisions that are ours in Christ in order to live godly lives.

I share your disgust and sadness that Osteen and others like him can fill a church his size many times over each week and author books made bestsellers by people professing to follow Christ and love his word. That this is the case is damning evidence that biblical discernment is sorely lacking and beyond that, many don't seem interested in cultivating it.

Annie said...

I came across a quote in OUR DAILY BREAD (13 May 2006) that sheds light on the many Anthony
Robbins guru-types in the pulpit. Unleash The Power Within, Tony's live seminar, doesn't seem far removed from what is peddled from
some pulpits.

Joe Stowell, former president of Moody Bible Institute, wrote in FOLLOWING CHRIST:

“Many of us live out our faith as though [Christ] exists to follow us. We come to believe that Christ exists to satisfy our demands. . . . This disguised form of self-serving religion sets Christ up as just one more commodity in life that will enhance and empower our dreams.”

joe hardee said...

I thought we are commisioned to preach the gospel to everyone

KP said...

Annie, that quote pretty much nails it. Thanks for posting it.

Joe, you're right. But I'm puzzled as to what I or anyone else said that evoked your comment.

No one has taken issue with Osteen's appearance on the Today Show. My concern is with his misrepresentation of the gospel especially given his broad audience.

Mitch said...

WOW! She nailed him to the wall with those Scriptures. Even more fascinating than that was his response: "If wealth is bad, then everyone in America is a sinner."

Rev. Scott Welch said...

Wow! Osteen could care less what the Bible says.

Austin Storm said...

Creeepy! How do you suppose he deals with pastoral issues like abortion and homosexuality?

Caddiechaplain said...

If you are never quoted because you don't say anything or something, then you are not guilty of having spoken. His "friends" maybe guilty but not him. The thing I like most about the dude is that he tells it like it ISN'T! He is the "Harry Houdini" of evangelicalism.

frosty said...

Now it seems easier for me to say that Joel and his wife always seem to have a certain look like they are planning something bad.
...Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Mathew 7:15.
I found this on another site.

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 honor 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.
The "essence of Osteen’s Christian faith" is to "help others." (And along the way make a few million$.)
In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, the apostle Paul gives us the "essence" of the Christian faith:
1 Corinthians 15:3-4
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Stay away from Joel Osteen and his no condemnation, self-esteem, false-gospel. Warn others. Stay away! There is too much at stake – your eternal soul.

BF said...

I've seen Lakewood's service via television and enjoy it. I know my bible well and I don't see the "false gospel" that you speak of. He teaches a personal relationship with Christ. His church may not be as "meaty" or "deep" if you will but I've visited "meaty" churches and have found them to be legalistic, which many of you sound here.

In regards to money there are many examples of people who God has blessed Old and New Testament. And I totally agree with Joel, you can be stingy with $100 bucks. According to Moses it is God who give the ability to produce wealth. Before you all think I'm a name it claim it guy, I'm not. I'm totally against preachers like Mike Murdock, Kenneth Copeland and the like in which I don't hear Osteen talk like them at all.

Oh yes I'm sure you can take a snipit of something he has said and crucify him with it, I suppose any of us who speak as much as he would say something stupid.

But one of the gifts of the Spirit is encouragement. I think he's enabled by the Spirit and encourages his flock well.

How many souls have you won to Christ? How many people are you impacting in a Godly way? Are you salt and light? It's true God does not want us to be "Luke Warm" but he also doesn't want us "heaping burdens onto people" as Jesus said the Pharisees did so well. Where is your fruit?