Question: Why is Joel Osteen considered a false teacher?

Answer: Greetings friend. Although it is always with fear and trepidation that I comment on high profile persons in the Christian culture, I shall respond to your concerns about Joel Osteen. Many in the evangelical community consider Osteen to be a false teacher because he ignores the Gospel, shows lack of biblical discernment and has a skewed view of Jesus Christ. He also propagates aberrant doctrines. However, let us proceed humbly and with caution. None of us can truly know the heart of another person.

A true Christian is a person who has responded in faith to the salvific work of Jesus Christ — one in whom the Holy Spirit, therefore, resides. So, how do we test this in other people? Sometimes I wish it were as clear as having marks on our foreheads, but the reality is that we must test every minister’s teachings against the Scripture and form our opinions from there. If Joel Osteen understands the Gospel of saving grace through Jesus Christ, he gives it low priority, and that (in my opinion) is the tell. Those of us who have been pulled back from the brink of hell tend to keep the core Gospel elements as our underlying message, and since Osteen makes the Gospel such a low priority, I’m not sure that he has ever been converted. Perhaps he does not speak the words of life because he cannot speak the words of life.

Osteen must give the Gospel a low priority because he is a leading proponent of two aberrant doctrines, which, because of how they work, undermine God’s sovereignty and the Gospel itself: The self-esteem gospel and the Word of Faith theology. Since neither of these doctrines reflects the teachings of Jesus Christ, I must hold their adherents as spiritually suspect — no matter how large their following.

Osteen pastors the 40,000+ member Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. He has also authored two bestselling books, Your Best Life Now: Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential (Faith Words, 2004), and Become a Better You: Seven Keys to Improving Your Life Everyday (Free Press, 2007). Osteen is congruent in that lives what he preaches. He is very successful...but what is he successful in? Sadly, not in preaching the Gospel.

Bob Hunter reviewed Osteen’s second book for the Christian Research Institute, and he found many problems, but the issue below is foundational to some of his specific doctrinal anomalies.

Preaching the Whole Word of God. Joel Osteen has said that digging deep into the Scriptures and preaching about sin is “not my main calling.” He has a congregation of more than forty thousand people, in addition to millions who watch him weekly on television rather than attending a regular church. He is, in effect, their pastor. If he isn’t going to faithfully preach the gospel to them, then who will? The same applies to his readers. Except for two brief paragraphs at the end of the book, there is no presentation of the gospel to those who are lost. This is undoubtedly the saddest part of his “gospel-light” message. — reviewed by Bob Hunter.

Osteen’s books answer the question, what must I do to become a better me? The Bible answers the question, what must I do to be saved? (Acts 16:30). In light of the latter, the former loses all importance.

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26, ESV)

Herein lies the problem. There is nothing wrong with prospering per se—many true believers enjoy this world’s riches. But Jesus uses the concept of worldly gain as an antipole to the thing of real value, the salvation of the human soul. Osteen reverses this emphasis, and anyone who reverses Jesus’ emphasis on the relationship of one's possessions to the human soul shows the spirit of anti-Christ in his teaching (1 John 2:18).

One might legitimately ask, what’s the problem with a little positive verbiage among God’s people? Is Osteen really hurting anybody? Absolutely. He wears the mantle of God — influencing millions! But he preaches positive thinking and self-help instead of the Gospel. My friend, the Gospel is the opposite of positive thinking and self-help. The Gospel says, I’m a wreck! Help me God! The true Gospel is edgy — it divides — and I count it as unlikely in a church that attracts 40,000 people, that there would be even a whiff of the true Gospel. True salvation displays humans that are wrecked by sin. It requires a suffering Savior, the essential unworthiness of the believer... and the emptying of self. These are not in Osteen’s showcase.

To assess for yourself whether or not Osteen represents the biblical Jesus Christ in his preaching or if he interprets the Scriptures correctly, just read his books or listen to his preaching. If you are a true Christian, you’ll soon discern that he uses god-flavored language to propagate an ungodly concept. The Word of Faith theology and/or the prosperity gospel tells us that God wants us rich! That’s a lie. God does not want us rich — he wants us holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16). Riches are neither here nor there.

Word of Faith purports that faith is a force and that words are the containers of the force, therefore, words create reality. So, saying good things can make good things happen and saying bad things can make bad things happen. Now, I don’t know about you, but my God is not subject to an algorithm — and that’s what we have here, a flowchart telling us how to make God jump through hoops. Any mature Christian understands that hardship and woe are as much God’s tools as are joy, mercy and grace. A congruent Word of Faith proponent cannot, at the end of the day, believe in a sovereign God — and that’s the only kind of God revealed in the Bible. My question is (as always), are they reading it? If the prosperity people are indeed reading their bibles, they are missing a fundamental truth.

Let’s go out on a limb and say that true Christianity is about Jesus Christ or it is about nothing at all (1 Cor. 2:2). With that in mind, take a look a Jesus’ portfolio...because counting his assets is easy. Up until his crucifixion, Jesus owned the clothes on his back. (Then he lost even those!) (Matt. 27:35). He had no bank account (Matt. 17:27), he owned no house (Matt. 8:20), and he died naked on the cross, so mark this well: When Jesus died, he had zero assets. Now, how does one parlay the example of the absolute poverty of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 8:9) into the idea that God wants us rich? With help from below, I’m afraid. The world cares only for itself, the flesh wants its ears tickled, and the devil will help out in any way he can.

The greatest problem with Osteen is this; unconverted people (as well as believers who are not well grounded in the Bible) might confuse his success in the prosperity movement with success in actual Christianity. Fortunately, this confusion is curable. Every person who names the name of Jesus Christ should embark on a prayerful and careful study of the Scripture. This not only cures confusion, it prevents future outbreaks.

To learn more about Osteen and his ilk, visit these links.

See also the Christian Research Institute's materials from their advertisement below:




+1 #19 Linda 2017-01-03 16:47
To the one who mentioned catholocism...w hen we say it's not a true religion, we are not saying we are against Catholics. God loves everyone, and as a Christian, so do I. It's because I was raised in that false religion that I feel strongly people should be warned about it. Just as I would warn an atheist, a Buddhist, a Mormon or Scientologist. The devil wants those telling the truth to look like haters, instead of the truth tellers that we intend to be. There is ONE gospel and ONE Savior, Jesus Christ. There are not many roads to heaven, as Joel Osteen has insinuated more than once. Remember what the Bible says about people with "itching ears" gathering to hear preachers say what they want to hear. It's actually not an act of love to not tell people the truth when spoken in love and concern.As Christians it is precisely our responsibility to warn others as they head towards destruction. If he's not called to set people straight then why is he preaching in the first place?
+1 #18 Linda 2017-01-03 15:51
I heard a sermon today that got me wondering once more if Joel Is teen is real or not. It literally turned my stomach as I heard him say repeatedly that we are all in this journey together (he was referring to everyone in the world.) Yes, I agree we should love everyone unconditionally , but he was saying basically that we are all going to end up the same place no matter where we are now. He even made a comment that doctrine does not matter. Doctrine actually matters immensely since what we believe will make a difference between heaven and hell for eternity. His favorite thing to say is its not his place to "set people straight" If that's true, then why is he preaching to thousands of members and millions of TV watchers? It's actually not his place to NOT preach the gospel! What I see is he is enjoying the admiration of millions while he refuses to really love people by telling them the truth. I also think people need encouragement and see nothing wrong with giving hope to everyone, but not if the message excludes the gospel of Jesus Christ, especially when you have a platform with the potential to reach millions. Go ahead, Mr Osteen; continue to think "we'll be surprised by who gets to heaven" It's people who don't believe Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven who will be surprised when they don't go to heaven Jesus said the road to life is narrow. Few will find it, and part of the reason for that could be preached who preach spiritual pablum instead of biblical truth. If you really love people you will tell them the truth, in love; the Muslim, the athiest, the person who practices false doctrine, will not be saved unless they repent and turn to Jesus as Lord and Savior. It does matter what you and I believe. It would be like me walking by a house that's on fire and continuing on without alerting the occupants about the danger, because it's "not my place" or I don't want to offend anyone. Real love tells people when that are in danger
Flor Cedillo
-2 #17 Flor Cedillo 2016-10-22 03:53
I love attending Lakewood Church. Joel Osteen is absolutely AWESOME ! One of a KIND! I love watching online as well during the week. If I go to church or watching online my day starts off to a great start. I feel so much closer to GOD our heavenly father I feel his presence every time I visit Lakewood Church . The love & energy is felt. I remember I never wanted to go to any kind of Church. I just never liked how the preacher's preached. It was negative. I don't see God my heavenly father being negative. So, when a friend of my invited me to Lakewood Church . .... I felt so close to my heavenly father that while singing to him. I cried, out of joy. Houston and anyone who watches online is very blessed to be able to experience the word of God.
Leslie C
0 #16 Leslie C 2016-09-03 10:36
You're right in saying that judgement is with the Lord, but we're also called to judge whether someone is a false teacher or not. We have scripture to guide us in that decision. I, and many like me, don't "judge" Joel Osteen but in our judgement, as required by God, we do not feel that he is preaching the gospel fully and correctly as he should be doing. Has he led many to Christ or has he led them to something else? THAT is for God to decide but according to His guidance in His word, I feel very uncomfortable with this mans ministry.
Yvonne Kelley
0 #15 Yvonne Kelley 2016-08-31 15:02
Stanly Khoo--how can he bring people to Jesus if he has to apologize for using His name in a sermon? Also, to any other readers, ... see if you can find the old interview with Larry King where he refuses belief in the Trinity.... then tell me he's not a false preacher.
-2 #14 abey 2016-08-30 15:05
For the likes of Osteen's make Christ to be sitting cross legged chanting 'Love & Fresh Air". They have made another Christ already. Biblical Prophecies are never wrong even the great "falling away".
When the devil deceived the woman at Eden, God who sees the end from the beginning, for her sake unto man kind put two wedges between the woman & the serpent 1) The Enmity 2)Put her desire unto the man from whom she was made, even for the express purpose of reproduction. Contrary to these two through the order of the Beast unto the 666 comes the belief in "Evolution" as god thereby creating a vaccaum inside one's heart in place of god & filling the void with oneself as god, for said satan "Ye be as god's" which but denies in the existance of God & by this denial comes Sodom against reproduction. These two "Evolution as god & Sodom(against reproduction) are exemplified in the Prophecy of Daniel "He will not regard the god of his fathers but a strange god- a god of forces", to this the present American Pharaoh,who is not The anti-christ but one of them, in the order of the 666 that have been coming over the years in various forms & rules unto its fulfillment , each having common characteristics of Enforcing "Evolution" (as god) & inducting "Sodom" & its agendas against the family order against reproduction to the Prophecy of Daniel" He will have no regard for the desire of women' which God given desire of a woman is to bring forth children.
Now to the first part the said Pharaoh carries a certain charm of a hindu warrior monkey god , to cut short, in his own estate(Privatel y)believes that man evolved form the monkeys,reveali ng "Evolution" to be his god. 'Evolution & Sodom' come against "Faith & Reproduction, the Antithesis of what is called Life.
Unfortunately Apostates like Osteen pretend that Prophecy does not exist.
Stanley Khoo
0 #13 Stanley Khoo 2016-08-30 08:56
Huh! May I remind you all, JUDGE
MENT is with the Lord! Please la, don't pretend to play God! Joel Osteen have brought more people to Jesus than any of you have finish reading the bible. Do not let your Sin of jealousy blind your eyes, for the Will of our Father is on earth as it is in heaven!
Paul Champagne
+4 #12 Paul Champagne 2016-08-29 22:03
I read where he is saying that Paul and other Apostles were Wrong in their teachings. Osteen is Pandering to as many different Alternate Lifestyles as possible by telling them that they don't Have to change. By doing so, he increases his followers and hie Bank Account. If the New Testament is wrong, then, wouldn't the old Testament be wrong as well? it's either All wrong or All right. You don't get to pick and choose.
Zachary Wilhelm
-2 #11 Zachary Wilhelm 2016-08-29 21:03
Ouch! While Osteen may deliberately omit sin in his language during sermons, might he also be promoting the language of Christ in his mercy and grace? Most people I know understand they are sinful; however, that is not to say such language is to be neglected! Most pre imminently, God and Christ are examples of forgiveness and love. Am I not correct in understanding that salvation is understood as one in need of a savior, and the provision of Jesus as that savior? I've heard sermons of the likes of Osteen, though I admit I do not watch him regularly. Food for thought?
-2 #10 the 2016-03-22 10:51
Good post. I will be dealing with some of these issues as well..

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