Do Christians Have a Right to Criticize Joel Osteen?

Criticize Joel Osteen

In the last couple of days, people have turned to social media to criticize Joel Osteen and his Lakewood megachurch have come under a lot of fire for not opening their doors immediately to take in evacuees and aid in the relief efforts of Hurricane Harvey. This has caused a flurry of social media blacklash and anger-laced comments towards Osteen and, by association, Christianity in general.

People specifically posted to criticize Joel Osteen and the church when they couldn’t open the church because it was “inaccessible due to severe flooding.” Some Houstonians took to social media to post pictures of the seemingly unaffected church. Osteen then revised the church’s status, saying they would open if the shelters reached capacity. He explained their hesitancy to open the church originally due to the possibility the lower level could flood. Now that the waters are receding, the church is currently housing evacuees.

Briefly, here is some of the back and forth from Twitter:

I am not a supporter or follower of Osteen for my own personal reasons, but I respectfully want to give a word of warning and advice to all the Christ-followers reading this. As much as one might disagree with another person, no matter what the circumstance we have no right to slander or hate anyone. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:31-32 to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.” So as your brother in Christ, I ask you to examine yourself before posting or shouting out anything against anyone without the guidance of the Holy Spirit first.

Since the backlash, Osteen and Lakewood church have opened their doors to provide relief.

Do we have a right to criticize Joel Osteen? I leave you with two thoughts from a non-Osteen supporter:

How much do you know about Joel Osteen’s ministry? Can you wisely speak about it, or are you taking other people’s critical words for it without examining for yourself to be able to accurately discuss or comment on it? While writing this, I was reminded of John’s question to Jesus in Mark 9:38-41 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.”

Again I am not advocating for or against Osteen’s ministry here, I am simply asking that you use a Biblical lens and prayer before discussing, posting, or commenting on anything.

My last thought:

Is what you are discussing, posting, or commenting on edifying to the body of Christ? If what we are saying to another might lead another to sin, should we have said it? When we speak about something, do we have the intention of God’s glory or our own self-motives of being right? If we don’t speak with the Holy Spirit’s guiding of 1 Corinthians 13 then the world will hear us as a very loud, annoying banging cymbal. Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (4:29)

As you process some of what I said above, please read this post and pray through how you might respond. May we always point people to our King and Savior Jesus Christ, the world around us is always watching.

Other posts that might be helpful:

What’s the Problem With Joel Osteen?

5 Ways to Get Involved in Disaster Relief

When Disaster Strikes, Is It Enough to Pray?

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Jesse T. Jackson
An undeserving husband to a beautiful wife, and a father to 4 beautiful children. He served as a house church shepherd for 7 years and elder for over 2 years at Apex community Church in Kettering Ohio. Follow him on twitter here (https://twitter.com/theorbmaster).