Joel Osteen, Gosh . . .

Joel Osteen, Gosh . . . December 17, 2014

Not a shock: megachurch celebrity tv star preacher Joel Osteen doesn’t know the Bible, reports the clever and energetic Tristyn Bloom of The Daily Caller. (The story’s several weeks old but I just saw it so pass it on for those of you who hadn’t.)

In a Monday post to his verified Facebook page, Joel Osteen ministries, read: “God said in Numbers 11:23, ‘Moses, is there any limit to My power?’ He was saying, ‘Moses, you saw Me part the Red Sea, stop the sun for Joshua, keep three Hebrew teenagers safe in a fiery furnace, don’t you realize that I can bring water without rain?’ There’s no limit to God’s power.”

As of Friday afternoon, the post had over 317,000 likes and 52,000 shares.

One normally hesitates to criticize ministers from another tradition, but Joel Osteen perverts Christianity in a way that will keep people from Christ. He preaches a Christianity without a cross. As one commenter put it:

Joel Osteen is a motivational speaker who pretends to be Christian in order to make money. He and his wife live in a multimillion dollar mansion, and in return sell a gospel of false promises, bad theology, and gross consumerism. It is unsurprising that he fails to quote Scripture accurately, because adherence to Scripture has never been a priority of his.

What is truly unfortunate about him and his operation is that through their false teaching they mislead millions. I hope and pray for his repentance, before his final judgment and damnation.

I don’t know about “pretends.” I have no idea what Osteen thinks he’s doing. He does not speak as a Christian preacher but as a motivational speaker who exploits Christian language and Christianity’s continuing cultural authority to bring people (and their donations) in. There’s nothing like the message to the rich young ruler in his preaching, no take up your cross, not even a watch with me.

The Christian life is a constant struggle to move closer to Christ, against the flow of our natures. We’re swimming upstream. With God’s help, making progress, but only because He helps us keep pushing against the current. Osteen offers a pleasant ride on a warm spring day down a wide slow-moving river lying on a well-stocked raft. He presents this as if it were grace and not the easy choice of our fallen natures. “God wants you to do what you want to do” is not the Gospel.

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