I found an article in Money Week which made this troubling statement:
Joel Osteen is one man who won’t be worrying about the credit crunch. The 45-year-old preacher’s Lakewood Church in Houston is the largest, most financially successful church in America with average weekend attendances of 45,000. If anything, says Karl Greenfield on Portfolio.com, a recession will fill more pews. (emphasis mine) Source.
For those who are Biblically discerning, nothing would drive them to the seeker-sensitive, Word of Faith message that Joel Osteen preaches. But for those casual church goers who are biblically illiterate, there’s nothing keeping them from flocking to the nearest Word of Faith teacher in an attempt to survive a recession and stay afloat during financially hard times. So, even though other churches may suffer monetarily, Word of Faith churches will more than likely bust at the seems during a recession, which basically means they will be fleecing the desperate and needy, much like now. They will have no problem padding their bank accounts, despite the fact that during those times our Heavenly Father instructs us to care for the needy and poor, and not to oppress them.
Osteen preaches Word of Faith doctrine. Was it the favor of God that caused his church to grow, or a clever marketing strategy? According to Money Week, “But it has taken more than a gift for preaching to build his empire, says Greenfield. He (Joel Osteen) is a “master marketer” and talented CEO. Before he took over from his father in 1999, Lakewood had a membership of just 5,000 or so.”
Preaching a man-centered message, Osteen claims that God wants to see you happy, blessed, and healthy; but God’s Word never promised we would exclusively be any of those things. Scripture affirms that we are a peculiar people. It says that we would be hated, we would suffer, and some would be put to death. Another troubling aspect of Osteen’s message is that he doesn’t preach sin… he only tells people that God loves them. With a doctrine as sugar-sweet as this, people never have to fear the wrath of a jealous God, and they’ll never thoroughly understand the sacrafice our Savior made for us. Without preaching sin, there is no need to preach the Savior, or Him crucified. Without preaching the Savior and Him crucified, or the ramifications of sin, obedience to God’s Word is kicked to the curb along with the mandate to live a separated life of obedience to God the Father. As you can see, it all revolves around Jesus, and if Jesus, and His complete sacrafice and resurrection aren’t being taught, then people aren’t getting to know the Savior.
Perhaps the most troubling statement from this article is this quote:
Osteen makes no apologies for watering down the Bible. He admits that he sees himself more as a life coach than a preacher. He doesn’t quote the Bible at length, instead abstracting it into principles such as love and the importance of a positive attitude. In general, he is seen as pushing the ‘Prosperity Gospel‘ – if you give to God he will bless you physically, spiritually and materially. Source.
Paul said that when he departed, wolves would enter, not sparing the flock. The enticement of people such as Osteen is so subtle and sweet that no one would dare see them as wolves. Don’t get me wrong…I believe Osteen is a very nice man. I believe He’s sincere; but he’s sincerely wrong.
If you believe the prosperity message is not prevalent in this country, the next bit of information should put it in better perspective:
The idea has struck a chord in 21st-century America. A recent Time poll found that 61% of Christians surveyed said that they believe God wants people to be prosperous; 31% agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money. According to Dr Scott Thumma, author of Beyond Mega-Church Myths, an estimated 25% of mega-churches preach the Prosperity Gospel. Source.
And if it looks bad now, with no spiritual anchor, many more will flock to people like Osteen when times get hard and desperate. Not turning to the God of the Bible, they will put their hope in a leaky vessel, and will lose much more than their earthly possessions, but they may completely lose what little faith they did have, if any.
I’ll leave you with one last quote.
Osteen may make an “easy target”, with his talk-show-host grin and gelled hair, says Greenfield, but there’s no denying that he is getting his message out while “so many other pastors are preaching to empty pews”. Source.
For those who are contending against this heresy, please keep in mind what Jesus said to His disciples:
Mt 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.