Do not listen to Joel Osteen

I urge you to consider these days are dark with herds of savage wolves creeping in with destructive heresies. They prowl and pounce on the unsuspecting, and for the purpose of shredding God's people. Joel Osteen is one of those. "Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting'..." (Romans 16:17-18). This post is my urge to you. Let's begin:

From Chris Rosebrough's Letter of Marque:

In the late second century, Irenaeus of Lyons, wrote his classic apologetic tome Against Heresies to check, expose and combat the gnostic heresy of the Valentian sect. It is significant to note that the same scripture twisting tactics of the gnostic heretics are still being employed by today's heretics. Said Irenaeus, heretics:
"... adapt the good words of revelation to their own wicked inventions. And it is not only from the writings of the evangelists and the apostles that they endeavour to derive proofs for their opinions by means of perverse interpretations and deceitful expositions: they deal in the same way with the law and the prophets, which contain many parables and allegories that can frequently be drawn into various senses, according to the kind of exegesis to which they are subjected. And others of them, with great craftiness, adapted such parts of Scripture to their own figments, lead away captive from the truth those who do not retain a steadfast faith in one God, the Father Almighty, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God."
The persons perpetrating deceitful expositions are still around. They were then, and they are still doing it now. Joel Osteen is one. The Albany NY Times Union reports below on a recent event. I can't call it a revival and I can't call it a crusade and I can't call it a sermon. Osteen holds events:

12,000 relate to Osteen's pep talk
"For more than two hours, Pastor Joel Osteen wrapped 12,000 people in a warm embrace at the Times Union Center with his massively successful brand of feel-good "prosperity theology." Backed by a rock band and a heavily produced show that was more Broadway than tent revival, his message traded fire and brimstone for the equivalent of a corporate motivational speech. He was all praise and no damnation."

Osteen consistently demurs in preaching sin. He boasts that his cavernous Lakewood arena does not "have a churchy feel" and he deliberately declines to put crosses there so as not to cause an offense that would hinder someone from coming. (source).

"On the December 23, 2007, edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday brought up Osteen's lack of Scripture reference in his sermons, as well as his hesitancy to discuss sin as an integral part of life. Osteen responded: "And I am ultimately trying to do that, but I'm trying to teach people how to live their everyday lives, and so I do focus on it, probably not as much as some people would like." Osteen says that he chooses to focus on the goodness of God rather than sin." (source)

 Of focusing on only one part of the Gospel to the exclusion of others, Paul said,

"For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." (Acts 20:27).

Here is an explanation of that verse from Albert Barnes, 1798-1870, and an explanation as to why some preachers fail to preach the whole counsel of God. Though Barnes wrote this 160 years ago, it applies to Osteen today in a most uncanny way-

Barnes notes
"have not shunned - I have not kept back; I have not been deterred by fear, by the desire of popularity, by the fact that the doctrines of the gospel are unpalatable to people, from declaring them fully. The proper meaning of the word translated here, "I have not shunned", is "to disguise any important truth; to withdraw it from public view; to decline publishing it from fear, or an apprehension of the consequences." Paul means that he had not disguised any truth; he had not withdrawn or kept it from open view, by any apprehension of the effect which it might have on their minds."

"Truth may be disguised or kept back:

(1) By avoiding the subject altogether from timidity, or from an apprehension of giving offence if it is openly proclaimed; or,

(2) By giving it too little prominency, so that it shall be lost in the multitude of other truths; or,

(3) By presenting it amidst a web of metaphysical speculations, and entangling it with other subjects; or,

(4) By making use of other terms than the Bible does, for the purpose of involving it in a mist, so that it cannot be understood.

People may resort to this course:

(1) Because the truth itself is unpalatable;

(2) Because they may apprehend the loss of reputation or support;

(3) Because they may not love the truth them selves, and choose to conceal its prominent and offensive points;

(4) Because they may be afraid of the rich, the great, and the frivolous, and apprehend that they shall excite their indignation; and,

(5) By a love of metaphysical philosophy, and a constant effort to bring everything to the test of their own reason. People often preach a philosophical explanation of a doctrine instead of the doctrine itself They deserve the credit of ingenuity, but not that of being open and bold proclaimers of the truth of God.

Osteen fits all of the above. Most importantly, by Osteen's own admission, fails to preach the entire counsel of God. Let's look at some self-described approaches to preaching that Osteen himself has stated, and compare them to scripture:

In Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, Osteen wrote, “Our words are vital in bringing our dreams to pass. It’s not enough to simply see it by faith or in your imagination. You have to begin speaking words of faith over your life. Your words have enormous creative power. The moment you speak something out, you give birth to it.”

Isaiah would differ with that approach. He said of his mouth, "Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."

Osteen's Web site says -"The Power of Words-“Your words affect your future. Speaking God's Word over your life can help you to live the life of victory that God has in store for you.”

Isaiah says, "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things." (Isaiah 59:2-3)

In Diana Keough’s interview from, she asked about Osteen's then New York Times #1 bestseller Your Best Life Now. Osteen stated: “The main reason I decided to write it was to help people enjoy their life and to realize God has a good plan. I wanted people to see that you can be happy today --- that you can bloom where you're planted and enjoy your life right now.”

Solomon had some things to say about accumulating wealth and pleasure and happiness based on ephemeral earthly things of now, instead of pursuing the eternal:

"I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me."

"I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 2:4-11)

Osteen said each day “you should declare good things. Just look in the mirror and say ‘I am strong, I am healthy, I’m rising to new levels, I’m excited about my future.’ ” (Joel Osteen, Discover the Champion in You, TBN, June 7, 2004).

"The image of the Lord had been replaced by a mirror.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges


  1. The reason why this guy has an audience is because he gives them the "kind" of savoir they want. One that "works" for them and meets their "needs". They do not want a Savior that asks them to accept responsibility for their own sin and then do their own work to turn away from it.

  2. I'm not sure what Jeff means in his comment. Surely he is not advocating "works salvation", where we do good deeds and the good deeds outweigh the bad (sin) on the day of judgement? Or a Savior who demands that we humans pay for our own sin, rather than He taking them on Himself at the cross? I think the above comment needs a bit of explanation so as not to confuse non-Believers who might read it.

  3. Jeff can explain if he comes back here. What I took from His comment is that Osteen offers a way to escape the personal responsibility of sin by choosing to listen to a preacher that does not preach it, and minimizes its impact and importance. The 'work' of personal responsibility is to recognize one is a sinner before a Holy God and ask Him to forgive them.

    Nobody likes to be told they are not a good person, they do not deserve a good life now and that our personal sins are causing the destruction of the world and of our own souls. So Osteen chooses not to preach that fact and the people flock to him, saying to themselves, 'Hey, this works for me!'

    This is a fulfillment of the verse in 2 Tim 4:3, "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." where, rather than listen to some painful truths, they choose a guy who smooths over the ugliness of sin and are pleased with the permission he gives to follow their own ungodly desires (Jude 1:18).

  4. i would like to know what you believe...think we all know we will be judged one day ..and that wont be coming from a person!!! but from the living god!!! so leave joel osteen alone

    1. Anonymous, You are quite right, we will all be judged one day. The unsaved by their works in disobedience (Rev 20:13, punishment), and the saved to their works in obedience (2 Cor 5:10, rewards).

      One of the things Jesus is monitoring and has opinions about is our response to Him, to doctrine, and to false apostles/teachers. Even though the church at Ephesus was loveless, nevertheless He commended them "that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; ".

      In fact, every NT book except Philemon has warnings or admonitions about discerning and making decisions about false doctrine and corrupting teachers. Paul urged all Christians to contend for the faith.

      So, what do I believe? I believe the New Testament when we are instructed in these things. I believe it is important to point to corrupting influences and I believe John when he says-

      "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works." 2 John 1:7-11

      I hope this answers your uestion and offers some biblical information on how important it is to "Guard the deposit given to us" 1 Tim 6:20

  5. Joel Osteen needs to get his heart right with God and then you'll see a difference in his message. His message should be "the cross and Christ crucified" because without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. A "feel good message" will not get you into Heaven. Only a message anointed by the Holy Spirit that will convict sin will do that. What will Joel say one day when one of his many members comes up to him and asks "Why didn't you tell the truth about sin?".

  6. Just as we are all responsible for our own soul, so are we responsible for our own religious education. I don't know anyone who takes their religious information from only one source. I also know people who like to like Joel Osteen, none of them are ignorant to the realities of damnation. Some people like comedies, some like dramas, but its not all they watch. Everyone has different tastes, even with sermons. If Joel Osteen is helping people take their first step toward Christ then he is an asset. Give people alittle credit, they'll find out about the other side of the coin.

    1. Paul warned about each and every false teacher and some of those are recorded by name. So did John. They didn't say, 'Well, it's OK to listen to Hymenaeus but be sure to listen to Polycarp, as well. They said, test the doctrines men are preaching against the word, dispense with the false and avoid those bringing a different Gospel.

      Comedy, drama, you make the word of God and His doctrines sound like pick and choose, personal preference smorgasbord.

      Nope, sorry. It isn't. Though there are such things as "starter homes", typically described as a small, often broken down home for a starting out couple in need of lots of work to make it habitable, there is no such thing as a "starter preacher", who preaches broken down doctrines that are good enough for starter Christians.

      Either Osteen preaches rightly or he doesn't. He is no asset who fails to adhere to the word of God and hides half His message from the sheep. That's like saying it's OK for the sheep to go into the woods knowing about wolves, but the shepherd forgot to tell them to watch out for lions. No, in fact, half a message is often worse than no message. Remember, satan came with half a message "you surely won't die" (YET) and look where it got us.

  7. Joel Osteen is a Heretic.

  8. This preacher is FULL of lies and false doctrines, He is afraid of the Truth and refuses to share The Bible_Truth for fear of losing his financial status from his congregation! His fear of the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST is that he will be reminded of what it is to walk in Christ shoes! No joel doesnt want the dusty robes of pure righteousness! He wants the glitter of money to lift him up! How come joel refused the weary travelers who had nowhere to lay their head during the hurricane? His words of fame comes from the same slithery tongue that spoke to Eve at Eden! joel is nothing more than a puppet led by satan to steal the people from the True Gosple of Jesus Christ, and to kill that which suppose to make the people have life and to destroy their confidence in Bible Truth which is the Testament of Jesu Christ! The Holy Spirit gives life to ALL who receives The Bible IN FULL as their inspiration, for what does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul in prosperity! joel is AFRAID to face his congregation with Full Bible Truth, God says woe is man who thinks they have need of nothing! joel is only preparing his followers for an everlasting eternal demise! satan too will be awaiting at the countdwn of hellsfire, I wonder what will he say when Jesus says to him in that terrible day I never knew you, prepare for hell fire because you never preached it!


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