Joel Osteen Is Preaching Cotton Candy ‘Christianity’    

  By: David Fiorazo
   Published : May 8, 2019

When one of the most popular Christian leaders in America focuses more on personal growth, self-improvement, and positive thinking than on the essential doctrines of the faith such as repentance from sin, sanctification, and the atoning work of Jesus Christ, there’s a problem. The prosperity gospel preached by men such as Joel Osteen has been described as biblically anemic theology. And millions have fallen for it.

It's like a caffeine or sugar high or the nutritional value of cotton candy, but make no mistake: it can be quite lucrative for those preaching it.

Lakewood Church in Houston church rakes in about $70 million a year. For his latest book, Joel Osteen received a $13 million-dollar advance. One book. He and his wife have a fortune estimated at $60 million. His 17,000 square-foot mansion is listed at $10.7 million and has six bathrooms, five fireplaces, three elevators, a swimming pool, guest house, and parking for 20 cars - including his $230,000 Ferrari.

Thinking positive is much better than negative, and money itself isn’t bad. There are generous people who do great things for God with their finances; but the Bible warns about loving money.

Pursuing happiness isn’t wrong, but happiness can depend on your circumstances in life. Holiness, on the other hand, is a result of obedience; seeking the kingdom of God first and walking with Jesus daily.

People who practice Joel Osteen’s formula for success and then get cancer or fail to get the expected results end up disillusioned or worse; they blame God! It might feel good short term, but many people get angry at God and fall away from Him.

Rather than catering to self, the Bible teaches us to surrender our lives to Christ. The Gospel of Luke 9:23-24 quotes Jesus as saying:

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.”

The true Christian faith is honest right up front because the road to eternal life is narrow and hard. The Bible promises persecution, trials, and that people will hate you. Jesus said we will have trouble in this world.

President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler offered some insightful comments on a recent article in The Financial Times in which the writer destroys Joel Osteen’s brand of Christianity and contrasts prosperity theology with teachings in Scripture. The author is not even a believer.

Editor of The Financial Times, progressive writer Edward Luce, visited Lakewood Church in Houston and interviewed Osteen. Luce writes about what he sees as a contradiction between Joel Osteen’s preaching and the historic, orthodox Christian faith. He calls Lakewood, “the most significant temple to the prosperity gospel in America."

When Luce checked out a men’s group there, he came away with “buzz words” such as: optimism, hope, destiny, harvest, bounty, and of course, prosperity.

The article points to the glaring absence of crucial theological terms:

“Words that are rarely heard include guilt, shame, sin, penance and hell. Lakewood is not the kind of church that troubles your conscience.” 

It might work for some, but why don’t more people see that prosperity theology is not centered on God and his glory, but the glory of man, on this life, and is a psychological message aimed at making people feel better about themselves?

It is true God deeply loves us. He cared enough to send Jesus to a brutal, torturous death on a cross. With prosperity teachings, “meaning and identity have shifted away from the self-revealing, self-existing God and towards the self-important, self-worshiping individual whom God loves.”

But a key statement by Osteen reveals his approach:

“If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a computer, your face would be the screen saver.”

Dr. Mohler states the prosperity gospel shifts the emphasis of God’s love away from the praise and glory of the Creator to the praise and glory of the creature. Erasing the wrath of a holy God, Osteen reverses the entire theological order of biblical Christianity.

Colossians 1:16 reminds us we’re here for the Lord:

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Digging a little deeper during his visit to Houston, Edward Luce asked how Osteen managed to keep sin and redemption out of his preaching, and how a message can parade as Christian when it avoids basic, necessary doctrines. Osteen said he didn’t want “to turn people off” or lay more guilt on them, and added:

“It’s not my aim to dwell on technicalities. I want to help people sleep at night.”

Can you imagine Jesus or any of the disciples saying this? Osteen’s teaching is pop psychology that resembles the mantras of Oprah rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When an unbeliever writing for a secular publication can see this but Christians don’t get it, our biblical illiteracy is showing.

Osteen has also been quoted as saying,
“If you do your part, God will do his. He will promote you. He will give you the increase.”

For those who don’t know what the Bible teaches, how could they hear Osteen and not think Christianity if a religion that’s all about us and what we can get?

God already did His part by raising Jesus from the dead and sending the Holy Spirit to help believers. Nowhere does Scripture suggest if we just do our part, God will respond.

Osteen’s ‘gospel’ of your best life now, happiness, health and wealth and blessings lacks depth and substance. What does it offer those with terminal diseases, the homeless, U.S. Veterans with missing limbs and PTSD, parents with kids in children’s hospitals, confused teenagers, broken families, the depressed or hopeless including those who are suicidal?

Dr. Mohler says Osteen proclaims not the gospel - but a false hope. He concludes:

And the central problem of the prosperity gospel is not that it offers too much, but that it offers too little. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings salvation, the forgiveness of sin, and life everlasting; …Osteen tragically exchanges the hope of a gospel centered on Christ and his accomplished work - for a wishy-washy, self-centered, self-exalting message of psychotherapy. He turns the eyes of his audience away from the glory of the eternal God to a god who is a cosmic butler;

Joel Osteen’s message appeals to a materialistic, spoiled culture, doesn’t it? It seduces the already lukewarm church in the United States of Laodicea.

Who wouldn’t want their faith to be like a magic wand to create whatever we imagine and visualize? That’s the kind of thing we want to hear, but it’s not based on truth and it’s not what we need to hear.

2 Timothy 4:3-5 warns believers in the church:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship;

I recently preached a message from Matthew chapter 19 about the rich man who came to Jesus seeking eternal life only to walk away in grief and sorrow because he could not let go of his possessions. Money was his idol. And Jesus said it is extremely difficult for the rich to be saved. Not impossible; but difficult.

Only God knows the hearts of those who preach the prosperity gospel, but those who are teachers will be held to a much higher standard by the Lord who exalts His precious Word. To embrace and follow Christ, we must hold the things of this life loosely.

The Apostle John wrote:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:17)

Joel Osteen’s doctrine lacks biblical context and barely resembles the teachings of Christ. Pray for those who have fallen for it as well as those who are making a living off it. In the end, we all must answer to the God we claim to represent.

I’m David Fiorazo. God bless you and keep speaking the truth about things that matter.

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