says Pastor Joel Osteen of
Robert S. Liichow
(In its entirety from Discernment.org website no longer available)
(In its entirety from Discernment.org website no longer available)
want to begin this article by giving credit where credit is due.
When it comes to the
late John Osteen served the Lord Jesus Christ as pastor, evangelist, author,
and teacher for sixty years. Ordained as a Southern Baptist, he received the
baptism in the Holy Ghost in 1958, an experience which revolutionized his
ministry into a worldwide outreach…John Osteen began
thing is certain in a time of racial division, John Osteen opened wide the
doors of his church to all people, and all shades and classes of people
came. John, even though he had
rejected his Baptist theology (he did actually earn a Masters degree from
Northern Baptist Seminary), he never lost sight of the need for foreign
missions and his congregation supported and still supports a great deal of
foreign mission work. At the time
of his death, Lakewood
I must be honest with you; out of all the WOF teachers my wife and I listened to we enjoyed John Osteen more than most. He did have a genuine pastor’s heart and a desire to see people come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. We have many of John Osteen’s books and tapes in the DMI archives. It seems that his seminary education helped keep John from espousing some of the most heretical doctrines that are commonly taught by WOF teachers today.
I am under no illusions regarding the WOF “leaven” which John propagated
and is unfortunately being further magnified through his son Joel Osteen who
took over as Pastor when his father died in 1999.
John was a big crusader for the error of positive
confession. This is a
metaphysical belief that we can either create or change our reality by the
power of our words, for example he stated the following:
they say like they did to Smith Wigglesworth, "How are you feeling
today?" He said "Listen, I don't ask my body how it's feeling; I
tell it how to feel." And your words should not be to describe the
situation; your words should be given
to change the situation. And so, read it, meditate upon it, and speak
am the sum total of what I have been confessing through the years. My children
are the best children that ever lived on the face of the earth.
They are blessed of God. They
are the sum total of what Dodie and I have confessed and loved them into being
is on record as fully endorsing the WOF errant concepts surrounding financial
God's will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty. It's God's will
for you to pay your bills and not be in debt. It's God's will for you to live
in health and not in sickness all the days of your life
In the above sermon we can see the Health & Wealth “gospel” summed up three sentences. So despite the good things that John Osteen did as a Pastor, he got ensnared by the subtlety of false teaching and ended up misleading millions before his death.
Jesus in speaking to His disciples warned them about the leaven of the Pharisees in the following discussion:
Mt 16:6,11-12 -- Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees…How is it that ye do not understand that I spake [it] not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade [them] not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Even though it seems to us that His disciples were a little slow on the “uptake” at times Jesus makes His point crystal clear to them --- He was warning them to beware, to be on guard against the danger of their doctrinal errors, which Jesus likens to leaven in bread. Jesus knew that if left unchecked, like leaven in bread, their doctrinal error would spread. The leaven of false doctrines which he instilled in his son are now expanding and misleading more people than John Osteen could have ever imagined.
Osteen Master of Marketeering
Osteen has absolutely no biblical training or experience to be a pastor.
Charismatic pulpits are filled with people who feel “called” to the
pastorate and that is enough for them and those who follow them.
They attempt to build congregations on the “strength” of their
calling. Some charismatic leaders
may go on to some unaccredited “
Would you allow a surgeon to operate on you because he felt “called” to be a surgeon as a child, but never went on to medical school? Or would you allow someone to build your house who firmly believed God had called him to be an architect yet had never gone on to college to study architectural design? Of course not, it would be the height of foolishness!
Yet millions of professing Christians are more than willing to follow a man (or woman) who says “God” has called them and has supernaturally equipped them to be ministers. These especially anointed men and women have no need to study Church history, hermeneutics, systematic theology and struggle through Greek and Hebrew as other ministers do. They hear directly from God (this is especially true for the sign-gift pastors, most seeker-sensitive churches are led by seminary educated individuals).
my first main concern is that we have a man in the pulpit of the
largest congregation in
Osteen made the following statement which ought to be enough to drive
thousands of people away from his church:
upbeat style is deliberate and authentic. ‘Make church relevant,’ he says.
‘Give them something to be able to take away.
I find today people are not
looking for theology. There’s
a place for it, [But] in your everyday life you need to know how to live.
That statement is loaded with seeker-sensitive “code.” My wife and I left a North American Baptist church of over 1,000 members which had as its acronym “GPARS” which stood for: (1) Grace; (2) People; (3) Authenticity; (4) Relevance and (5) Small groups.
course Osteen’s “style” is upbeat;
would you expect negativity from a positive confession devotee?
absolutely, he really believes much of the WOF nonsense his father taught him
all his life, not to mention whatever offbeat spirituality he may have gleaned
from his two years at
To be a success in marketing you have to know where people itch and scratch it. Or, you have to create a desire in them by creating a hunger for something they currently do not have nor formerly knew they needed. All commercials can be condensed down to one of these two truths.
So to become a mega-church, a pastor has to make church relevant. He has to give the people what they want, something that soothes that spiritual itch. In order to be a “success” (i.e. large masses of people and money) pastors must preach unchallenging messages that uplift rather than convict. He must pander to the lowest common denominator and make sure that whatever is taught does not offend anymore at anytime. What we are seeing is really nothing new, it is a simply fulfillment of 2 Tim. 4:3-4:
the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their
own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having
itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and
shall be turned unto fables.
This is exactly where multitudes of people are spiritually today.
The above text also helps explain the phenomena of people like Robert
Schuller, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and now Joel Osteen.
This is exactly where multitudes of people are spiritually today. The above text also helps explain the phenomena of people like Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and now Joel Osteen.
goes on to say that “I find today
that people are not looking for theology.”
Well that is obvious because if they were they would not find any sound
Lest you think me a bit harsh, let me remind you that theology simply means “the knowledge of God.” In essence, Osteen has said that people are really not interested in learning about God. Somehow (undoubtedly due to his lack of biblical education) he has made a disconnect between knowing the God of the Bible via sound biblical theology and “knowing how to live.”
Brothers and sisters, my wife and I can testify to you that the more accurately you understand God within the biblical context, the better life you will live before Him. Tracy and I have a daughter. She does not like to eat certain vegetables, but we MAKE her eat them from time to time. Why? As her parents, even though somewhat distasteful to her, we know that eating them will be beneficial.
The same is true for every man who mounts a pulpit! God does not tell us to feed the sheep what they want to eat. Jesus told Peter “feed My sheep,” (see John 21:16). Jesus said “feed” the sheep not “entertain” them! We are to give them the Word of God in its totality. Any pastor can fall into the trap of becoming a people pleaser. This is why Paul, through the Holy Ghost warned young Timothy in the verse just above the one I cited: 2 Tim. 4:-2:
charge [thee] therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge
the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be
instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort
with all longsuffering and doctrine.
Timothy is WARNED to be steadfast in his proclamation of the Gospel to be ready and in his preaching to: (1) REPROVE; (2) REBUKE; (3) EXHORT the people according to the Scriptures. How? We are to preach with all longsuffering (because such preaching is unpleasant to people’s carnal nature) and with doctrine. GASP! Doctrine? I can hear the seeker-sensitive pundits saying “oh come now, Rev. Liichow, surely you know preaching doctrinal messages is passé?” Osteen would do well to heed the word of the Lord from a genuine prophet who stated:
Eze 34:2 -3
of man, prophesy against the shepherds of
Eze 34:2 -3
of man, prophesy against the shepherds of
of man, prophesy against the shepherds of
There are many biblical themes
which are very “unpopular” and even politically “incorrect” yet the
faithful pastor/teacher will expound on these topics as well so that the flock
under his care is receiving a balanced spiritual diet and is able to walk in
the full light of God’s Word and not in the shadows.
There are many biblical themes which are very “unpopular” and even politically “incorrect” yet the faithful pastor/teacher will expound on these topics as well so that the flock under his care is receiving a balanced spiritual diet and is able to walk in the full light of God’s Word and not in the shadows.
is Joel’s educational background and experience?
Since we know his training is not theological, what is it?
He did attend
son Joel, one of six children, was learning the business of television…
‘Growing up, I knew what I wanted to do.
I wanted to be involved in TV production,’ he says. ‘That was just
my passion.’ In 1981 he came
home from Oral Roberts University (ORU) to start the Lakewood TV ministry.
seventeen (17) years Joel was behind the scenes handling all the television
and marketing of his father’s ministry.
The next statement from the Charisma
article is very revealing:
younger Osteen’s television-marketing talents and his dad’s preaching
skills resulted eventually in the church churches being aired on stations
nationwide and in more than 100 countries.
Joel Osteen had the ability to get his father’s heavily WOF
influenced message out all over
With his father sick in the hospital, John asks his son, Joel, to
preach for him that Sunday. Initially,
Joel balked at the idea and said “no.”
He then relented, and here are Joel’s own words concerning his
preaching that day:
just got up there and told stories.
I was so glad when it was over, I said, ‘I’ll never do this again
in my life.’
was the beginning of his public ministry; he just got up and told
“stories.” Joel has been
telling stories that have been tickling the ears of the multitudes ever since.
Here is how the article describes Joel’s style of preaching:
appealing style of Osteen’s personality in the pulpit is unmistakable.
It is part of the reason for the
agrees Osteen’s preaching is a key ingredient.
Descriptions of his style include ‘simple,’ ‘down-to-earth,’
‘practical,’ ‘relatable,’ ‘easy,’ ‘folksy,’ ‘humble.’
10 a.m. when he began his sermon. The
theme is practical as he gives
example after example of the importance of following God’s timing rather
than one’s own. He keeps the
tone cheerful, optimistic. ‘God doesn’t want anybody walking
out of here today heavy-hearted and downcast,” Osteen says.
Joel Osteen is charismatic in his personality. He is not a bad looking man; his delivery is as non-threatening as the positive messages he delivers. Perhaps I am reading in too much, yet when I read “practical” it makes me think that he believes teaching theology is somehow “impractical.” The example after example simply means he tells a lot of stories and anecdotes that somehow relate to the message in which he may cite one or two proof texts to make his point.
It also concerns me when a pastor can make the statement that God does not want anybody walking out of here “heavy-hearted.” My Bible says “godly sorrow worketh repentance…” (see 2 Cor. 7:10). At times God does want us to walk out of a service “heavy-hearted” if we have been sinning against His will. We should allow the Word (when properly expounded) and the Spirit (when genuinely present) to break us, to convict us of sinful attitudes and practices.
if all you hear is “upbeat,” “cheerful,” and “optimistic” messages,
there is little opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work conviction in the
hearts of the hearers. This
folksy, down home, non-confrontational type of message also goes a long way in
explaining the huge crowds that gather to be entertained.
Us Entertain You
Oh yes, it is not only Joel’s preaching style, but the music of
years ago, when Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff --- former member of the Dove
Award-winning Cruse Family gospel group --- became Lakewood’s minister of
music, the church had only one Sunday morning service…Soon after
Cruse-Ratcliff arrived Lakewood expanded when two Sunday morning services were
added…’The growth was extremely rapid,’ says Cruse-Ratcliff, who still
serves on the 200-member Lakewood. Staff.
power” brings people to churches as well, especially musical stars and Joel
is not ignorant of this fact. As
minister of music Ms. Ratcliff knows people in the contemporary music scene
and she no doubt help add to the musical strength of this mega-church by
helping bring in some more musical talent:
to spice up that mix are two of the most prominent names in worship music.
Marcos Witt, who fills stadiums in Latin America for worship concerts
was tapped in 2002 to pastor
This is not surprising when you consider that (to our knowledge) no seeker-sensitive or WOF congregation use hymnals at all, apart from the occasional singing of Amazing Grace. The charismatic movement’s brand of music has infiltrated almost all evangelical congregations that have forsaken the use of the historic hymns. At our former seeker-sensitive Baptist church, we sang songs that originated from theToronto “revival” and from the Vineyard movement, two examples of some of the wildest expressions within the renewal movement.
speaking, there is a method “to their madness” at
all our time spent among both Pentecostal believers and seeker-sensitive
groups, we never recited the Lord’s
prayer as part of our worship. We
never recited any of the historic creeds of the orthodox Church.
I doubt there are three people who attend
Is the Key to Osteen’s Success?
Osteen, I believe, is probably the first of many WOF devotee’s who has melded the successful marketing techniques of the seeker-sensitive mega-churches with their positive confession health & wealth message. The blend becomes a potent hybrid that appeals to both sign-gift believers (sort of “charismatic lite”) and baby-boomer seekers.
The message that God wants to bless His children with complete physical health, to give them great financial wealth, and to demand little of them regarding their spiritual life is a highly appealing message. When you combine this with well known Gospel singers, highly orchestrated praise and worship teams in a decidedly non-church atmosphere, it will appeal to even a wider audience.
cannot forget to mix in the vast television footprint that
we cannot lose sight of the fact that a certain synergy builds with any church
when it begins to reach such a size. People,
who have no solid doctrinal foundation, will want to attend the place where
“something” is happening (throw in a coffee bar, ice rink and gym does not
hurt either). In
Could it be a sign of God’s judgment on His people who have forsaken His ways? Often we think of God’s judgment as some divine catastrophe, yet often, and just as catastrophic, is when He simply allows people to have own way. I believe the words of Jeremiah are applicable to many in the Church today:
-- Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, [and] hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
As much as Joel Osteen no doubt believes the growth they’ve experienced is due to the blessing of God, it really boils down to three simple things, all of which have nothing to do with God at all: (1) his father’s legacy and an already existing mega-church; (2) Joel’s slick marketing abilities; (3) a biblically errant, but hugely popular message which appeals to the masses seeking to have their ears tickled and experience a “good time” in church.
 Charisma, June 2004, pg. 42
 Osteen, John. Sermon entitled Developing Miracle Working Faith, FA- 006. Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.
 Osteen, John . Sermon, The Holy Spirit Part I HS-001
 prose/xw a ; e)pe/xw a : to be in a continuous state of readiness to learn of any future danger, need, or error, and to respond appropriately - `to pay attention to, to keep on the lookout for, to be alert for, to be on one's guard against.' Taken from the Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon, Silver Mountain Software, ver 5.0.
 I purposefully use the term sign-gift in place of charismatic because all Christians are charismatic believers in that each one of us have been gifted with some gift or gifts from the Holy Spirit (read 1 Cor. 12:7).
 Charisma, June 2004, pp. 44-45. Bold type added for emphasis.
Ibid., June 2004, p. 44
 Ibid. p. 44.
 Ibid. p. 44. Underlining added for emphasis.
 Ibid. p. 46.
 Ibid. p. 45.
 Ibid. p. 49. Italics and underlining added for emphasis.
 Ibid. p. 44.
 Ibid. p. 46.
 It is interesting as hard as they have tried to distance themselves from established “traditional” forms of Christian worship they have created their own liturgies of a sort. They have banners which are marched around, they have praise dancers (we called them “Glory Dancers”). They have alter calls, and other aspects which have become standard practices and thus traditions.