Skip to comments.On judging Joel Osteen (Is it judgmental to call Osteen 'insufferable'?)
Posted on 10/31/2011 10:27:17 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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.
I won’t call his salvation into question, just whether or not he is really preaching the gospel, or just what his “flock” wants to hear.
another “Christian” envious of the osteen family success.
Great posting. Well said.
I'm sure he's got a lot of overhead to take care of, and if his congregation starts to thin out, he and his beautiful wife will be broke.
Osteen is a modern day prophet. The kind that hung around the court of the Northern king and told him how great he was, how with the Lord he was.
Agreed. We have no idea if this man is being rescued by Christ, or not. What we can tell is that he teaches an insipid, unbiblical spirituality that has little resemblance to the message delivered by Paul. This may explain why 40K go hear Osteen and most towns arrested/stoned Paul.
Joel is not teaching the gospel or the Bible. He is teaching humanism. Not sure exactly what spirits are influencing him, but the message is not pure. “Insufferable” characterizes him as far as I am concerned.
A success not unlike that of the Borgia family?
Osteen is the Werner Erhard of post-modern Christianity.
RE: Osteen is the Werner Erhard of post-modern Christianity.
For those who don’t know him:
Werner Hans Erhard (born John Paul Rosenberg, 5 September 1935) is an author of transformational models and applications for individuals, groups, and organizations.
He is currently writing about integrity, performance and leadership and has lectured at (among others) Harvard, Yale, USC, the University of Rochester and Rotterdam School of Management.
I have no problem with Joel Osteen. I see him more as a motivational speaker than anything else. The people I have a problem with are frauds like Rod Parsley. His broadcasts aren’t sermons - they’re infomercials. According to Parsley, God wants to bless me, but can’t do it until my check clears first.
“Joel is not teaching the gospel or the Bible.”
I wonder if Joel Osteen ever read Ephesians, in particular Ephesians 2:8-9 and Ephesians 3:28.
Jesus said that we should not judge what any person’s final fate will be. But He also said, according to Paul, that when a fellow Christian starts spreading obvious errors, the first thing you shoul do is quietly correct him. And then publicly correct him or even throw him out of the Church if he refuses to amend his errors.
To say that Mormons are Christians like everyone else simply is not true. It contradicts several Mormon teachings, including most importantly the teaching that Jesus is only another human being. No divinity for Jesus, no Trinity for God.
That is not to say that Mormons do not have a right to believe what they like, but rather to say that it is NOT Christian according to the normal sense of the word.
Radical Islam, for one, has produced nothing but poverty and violence for its followers.
Rev. Wright and Obama, his chief protegee, has produced a dangerous form of racism and anti-Americanism.
The Calvinist extremists produced mass executions of Catholics and the Salem witch trials.
The Catholics who couldn't separate their religion and political power produced the reign of bloody Mary in England and the Spanish inquisition.
Their character shaped by the Calvinist persecutions, they later gave us the armies who beat back the Muslim hordes at the gates of Vienna and the Muslim navies off the coast of Lepanto.
The Catholics who gave us Pope John Paul II played a major role in bringing down the iron curtain.
Mormons have given us the most conservative voting religious demographic in America.
Osteen, at the very least, has given us a number of self-improvement best sellers including one which one of his readers successfully used to convince a murderer to give up peacefully.
Meanwhile, those who scream the loudest about cults, have done nothing but divide the faith communities with their Taliban brand of Christianity to such an extent that most mainline Protestant denominations have gone the way of the ELCA in supporting liberal political causes such as gay marriage and colonization of America with third world people with third world values contrary to the principles of freedom and responsibility on which this nation was founded.
Success at what?
No, they won’t be broke. They have probably stashed plenty away because even they know you can carry on a scam only so long. Even Jimmy Swaggart and James Bakker came back from the dead lands though maybe a little singed but still, they are back.
The Osteens are a business model in the Houston area for several congregations and I’ll be switched if I can figure out what the draw is. Mostly entertainment I think. Osteen learned from his daddy really well and took it to a much higher level. The Shook brothers have done so well I think the are about to franchise. The Woodlands, Texas is a profitable area full of do-gooders or wannabes.
I guess one can justify just about anything in the name of God, it has all been tried one time or another.
Every tub has to sit on its own bottom and everybody is going to have to answer for what they have done some time or another whether it is to the law or a Higher Power.
We have the power of discernment and are obligated to use it. If that is judgement, I be the judge.
That's how I see it, too.
Exactly. It’s amazing how these folks can get away with saying that God wants us to be prosperous, when Christ himself had “no place to lay his head.” Guess he just wasn’t spiritual enough, huh?
Green-eyed jealousy dressed in regal robes of self-righteousness.
SOME PEOPLE can’t stand to see someone actually LIVING out the promises of the Word.
John 10:10b I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Psa 68:19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.
Pro 10:22 The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.
Whenever I “hear” someone like this bad-mouthing a Christian for being prosperous and happy, I always conclude that the accusing person is NOT a tither, or if they ever did tithe, they did it grudgingly and not out of love and gratitude to God.
2nd Corinthians 9:6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
2nd Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
But the bottom line is: If you can’t stand to watch or listen to a happy prosperous Christian, DON’T WATCH IT!
This person would REALLY have had problems with Abraham, and Lot, and Isaac and Job, and R.G. LeTourneau and Stanley Tam, et al. The patriarchs, in today’s dollars, would make Joel look like a pauper.....except for his Joy in the Lord.