Sunday, March 20, 2016

In Defense of Joel Osteen

One of the most well-known and controversial ministers today is Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. Pastor Joel oversees the largest congregation in the United States plus reaches millions through television, satellite radio, and has written several best-selling books. Some Christians criticize Osteen’s motivational messages because they think he needs to preach more about repentance. Others disapprove of Joel’s lack of theological training. Then again, some of the early apostles were considered “unlearned and ignorant men.” (Acts 4:13)

Eight years ago in Washington, DC, I attended one of Joel Osteen’s outreach events called “A Night of Hope.” Joel ministered that night on detoxifying our thought life. The service concluded with an invitation for salvation that was much longer than what Joel does on TV. That gave me a greater respect for him.

A Facebook friend once posted the above photo of Joel Osteen’s first book “Your Best Life Now” side-by-side with a parody featuring another minister named Paul Washer who preaches very confrontational sermons. Certainly, I agree heaven will be a better place for believers. However, it’s not a sin to enjoy life on earth as long as the kingdom of God is our top priority (Matthew 6:33).

I also agree there’s a place for “fire and brimstone” preaching (see Jude 23) but not everyone will respond to messages like that. Romans 2:4 says it’s the goodness of God that leads one to repentance. Non-believers need to hear about a God who can deliver them from their drug addictions, health issues, financial problems, and other bondages. I got saved 25 years ago not because someone told me I was a rotten sinner but that God loves me and wants me to have a fulfilling life on earth as well as eternal life in heaven.  

Here’s a challenge for all the critics who accuse Joel Osteen of being a false teacher: Take a minute to log onto Lakewood Church’s website and review the page “What We Believe.” I couldn’t find anything contrary to Scripture. Since my Facebook friend thinks Osteen’s messages lack biblical content, I exhorted him to do better himself. My friend responded by sharing a YouTube video in which Joel supposedly “denies Jesus.” Joel has stated that Jesus is the only way to God but there are many ways to get to Jesus.

One thing I would like to see is Joel Osteen demonstrate more boldness when challenged with questions by the secular media. Nevertheless, self-appointed watchdogs should stop bringing division within the Body of Christ and pray for Brother Joel. He is reaching multitudes that normally wouldn’t attend a church service. Just at Lakewood Church alone, Pastor Osteen ministers to over 40,000 people weekly. How many people do you reach for Christ each week?

“For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” - 1 Peter 2:15


  1. I'm sorry Todd, but I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one. Joel is a proven false prophet according to the scriptures--our FINAL authority on all matters, and we as believers have a GOD-given right to expose any false teaching and warn others of it, no matter how popular the teacher may be. This will cause some division--the division of the wheat from the tares. The true church will unite in these matters.

    If people don't respond to hard messages, "fire and brimstone" (a.k.a. truth), etc., it is between them and God--not the preacher, them and God. Jesus didn't always get a positive response from others during his earthly ministry, yet he kept on being about his Father's business, right up until his death at Calvary.

    You say Joel is reaching multitudes. With what? And for what purpose? If most of his "flock" are people who normally wouldn't attend a church service, why wouldn't he tell them what a real pastor would tell them? By real, I mean those who aren't seeking any type of praise--except from God, their main, and perhaps only source of accountability.

    If Joel--and others like him--repents and realizes that souls are at stake, and stops emulating the hell-bound Hollywood elite, I will consider listening to his messages in the future. Until then, I'm staying away, and will urge others, Christians and seekers alike, to do the same. I am far more interested in learning from a teacher, no matter their level of fame, who brings truth, not good feelings. If that makes me any more of a weirdo than I already am, then so be it.

    - P.S. Your post has a bit of a snarky tone to it, not typical of you but very much so for most of those who worship Osteen.

    1. You claim in your first paragraph “Joel is a proven false prophet” without citing any examples of false prophecies he may have made. To the best of my knowledge, Joel has never claimed to be a prophet.

      In response to your questioning Osteen being a “real pastor”, I recommend reading this article written by someone who personally knows Joel and Victoria...

    2. I didn't read anything snarky in Todd's post.
      I liked it.