“Joel Osteen: A Case Study in American Religion:” 01/20/08 broadcast of The White Horse Inn

A week ago yesterday, The White Horse Inn broadcast a program titled, “Joel Osteen: A Case Study in American Religion,” examining the teachings of Joel Osteen. (You can listen to the broadcast HERE.) In a previous post on statements by Joel Osteen, one commenter noted: “The SBC though needs to take care of the motes in our own eyes before worrying about Joel’s Log.” While I think that this is a healthy reaction- and I think that each one of us should examine how we might tend to neglect biblical teachings on sin and the Cross of Christ (as does Osteen) in our own conversations- I also think that it is important that Christians be knowledgeable about Osteen’s teaching and a biblical response to his teaching, as he has such a wide influence through his best-selling books and as the pastor of the largest “church” in America.

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One Comment on ““Joel Osteen: A Case Study in American Religion:” 01/20/08 broadcast of The White Horse Inn”


  1. Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

    For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth.

    For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?

    For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

    White Horse Inn has been running a series of programs on the diminishing church. It is not just Osteen. Osteen is just a symptom of a greater problem across the spectrum of evangelicalism. Their latest program had to do with politcal temptation. The thrust of which is our tendency to make Christianity a means of securing the good life. We might not like Osteen, but his “Your Best Life Now” is expressed the the political aspiration of the Christian Right as a social remediator.

    First we should examine ourselves. But that being done, we must judge rightly. To concern ourselves only with our particular congregation, or an association like the SBC, is myopic. My former congregation was inundated by works of the likes of Osteen and many other questionable messengers bearing the name of Christian.

    We never see the isolationism that we have due to denominationalism or autonomous localization in Scripture. The church is treated as a whole, and being one body, criticism and judgement crosses all boundaries. If we close our eyes, our minds and our mouths to external influences, they will find their way inside if even by an unconscious carrier. The leaven once admitted will leaven the whole if not purged. We all know, preventative medicine is the best. Curiously we find no reserve in criticizing popular targets like the Roman church, but we find ourselves reticent when it comes to others.

    The reluctance to be critical and judgemental is tacit approval. Silence is apathy and contradicts the motivations of love that should drive us to rescue those who have fallen prey to the wiles of the enemy. Would not any of you having one hundred sheep and losing one, leave the ninety-nine and seek the one? The question is not self concerned. It acknowledges the possibility that abandoning the 99 poses its own dilema. Leaving them without a shepherd puts them at temporary risk. On the other hand, not seeking the lost speaks of carelessness, and the 99 who see the lost are not cared for by the shepherd enough that he would look for the one, have no real motivation to stay. But, rather they will seek safety and comfort with another.

    I would encourage any to listen to the entire series and try to understand. The message that we preach is not just for us. The gospel keeps safe those who are found by it. Pointing out the wicked servants posing as shepherds of sheep and rescuing those enticed away by their siren call, is as much the work of the Great Comission as any. Jesus himself said, “Beware the leavening…they are false shepherds…you will know them by their fruit…” We must be about not just the teaching of those who are with us, but searching and rescuing those who are lost, or have wandered away. At the same time we must point out the false teachers and false teaching, or we become partakers of their sins, Ezekiel 3:18. Because, by not doing so, we by default become guilty of Matthew 5:17-20. And fall under the curse Christ evoked in Matthew 18:1-9. The greatest he said was those who become like little children. And we need to have that empathy which identifies us with the lost.


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