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What’s the Problem With Joel Osteen?


For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.  Gal 5:14-15 NIV

I believe the main thing leaders should be “called out for” is the arrogance and the divisive example they promote by publically dismissing the relevance of another person’s ministry.

Have these very public leaders, who take the liberty to bring these unfair assessments of Joel Osteen, spoken to him or one of his pastors in private about their concerns?

I may be wrong – but I don’t think they have.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.  Matthew 18:15 NIV

Look at this situation that the disciples brought to Jesus and notice His response.

“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”  As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?  But Jesus turned and rebuked them.

(But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of – NKJV)
Luke 9:49-55 NIV

What’s the problem with Joel Osteen?

“He’s shallow.”

“He’s a phony.”

“He’s a liar.”

“He’s not really a pastor.”“He presents an easy, feel-good gospel.”

I know Joel Osteen.

I consider him a friend.

I’m not a ‘Joel Osteen fan’ – I’m a friend.

I know him to be a genuine man, a humble man and know that he has a desire to lead people to become followers of Jesus Christ.  He believes the same fundamental truths about the Bible and Christianity that main stream Christianity teaches and preaches from the pulpits of America.

The problem is not with Joel Osteen – the problem is in the hearts of the ‘Christian critics’ (which sounds a bit like an oxi-moron) that speak without thinking.

Joel is focused on reaching the lost and the unchurched.

He does it really well.

In interviews with Larry King or Piers Morgan and others – they are always trying to get him into controversial or divisive topics, (homosexuals, politics, Mormonism, who’s going to hell etc) and Joel avoids answering those questions with much detail.  His focus is reaching those who have been alienated and are not being reached for Christ with the message of God’s grace.  He tries to stay on point.

Why is this so hard to understand?

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philipwagner@churchleaders.com'
Philip Wagner is Lead Pastor of Oasis Church in Los Angeles and founder of Generositywater.org. Oasis is an innovative and racially diverse church, largely comprised of people in their 20’s & 30’s. Oasis is known for its local and global outreach to the impoverished; especially orphans and widows, and funding clean water projects. Philip and his wife, Holly, started Oasis in 1984, in Beverly Hills with10 people. Today they’ve grown to 3000+ members.