Not to long ago a video popped up on YouTube featuring Joel Osteen and his wife, at their beyond-mega-church in Texas. Now this couple is something which I have avoided like plague, but every so often I get infected anyway.
In this video, Victoria Osteen says that we should obey God…for ourselves, and not for God. Obeying God because He says is, for her, ‘one way of looking at it.’
I read Joel Osteen years ago when his book, Your Best Life Now, came out. Being the curious sort, I decided to give his book a fair shake. What came out of the book after I’d shaken it was something I’d hardly expected. I was hoping for a good book of pastoral counseling with some discussion of Scripture as a foundation. What I found was a series of chapters on how God wants us to have good self-esteem.
Now I’m not against the idea of self-esteem, but like all such value-judgments I have to ask, on what grounds do people claim it? As far as I can tell, for the Osteens, you should feel good about who you are because God wants you to be who you are. That may sound illogical, that’s because it is. The God of Scripture is not a God who desires all of us to stay as we are, but to make us a new creation in Christ.
After reading Your Best Life Now, I reached the conclusion that Joel Osteen is a dangerous man. He is a prime example of the pop-Christian nice guy. The nice guy is inoffensive and smiling, he has no spine to stand for truth, neither has he the awareness that he is not truly good, but merely nice. A good man, a good pastor, will speak the Truth he is called to speak, unafraid to preach the Gospel, to teach good doctrine and to use the word sin when discussing human depravity. None of this is found in Osteen, in televised interviews he declines to speak of sin. Without sin, what need is there for the Cross?
If we good and fine without God, what glory is there in the Cross, what promise is found in the Resurrection? Without a fallen man, the Gospel is meaningless, for the Gospel is the Word of God preached to a race of mortals who are dead in trespasses and sins. Without the courage to preach what is truth, or even to say why the truth must be spoken, can we trust teachers like Osteen? His type is now prominent in the world of American milk-sop Christianity, a faith so weak as to be hardly worthy of the word. Let us pray that men like Osteen are brought to their senses by the words of Paul, that teachers will be judged more harshly than the rest of us.