Joel Osteen on 60 Minutes

Monday morning at the gym, I listened to the podcast of the 60 Minutes program that aired the night before (Sunday, October 14). It wasn’t a pleasant experience.

The third story into the show was a feature on Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston. If you are interested in watching the piece, you can find it here. Plenty has been written already on Osteen’s message which sounds more like Norman Vincent Peale than Jesus or the prophets and apostles. So my expectations weren’t all that high, and I was determined to not let him get to me.

But try as I might, it didn’t work. He got to me.

The thing that I found so disturbing is that Byron Pitts, the interviewer, demonstrated a far greater understanding of Christianity than the pastor of the largest church in America with a weekly attendance of over 40,000 people. Mr. Pitts was discussing Osteen’s new book, Become A Better You (By the way, doesn’t the name just give you the creeps?), and read off the principles that the book teaches: Keep Pressing Forward, Be Positive About Yourself, Develop Better Relationships, Form Better Habits, Embrace The Place You Are, Develop Your Inner Life, Stay Passionate About Life. Then Byron Pitts, the 60 Minutes interviewer, asks this…

Pitts: “[In your new book, you write that] to become a better you, you must be positive towards yourself, develop better relationships, embrace the place where you are. Not one mention of God in that. Not one mention of Jesus Christ in that.”

Remember that Byron Pitts not a pastor or a theologian. But he does have enough insight to notice that something doesn’t quite sound right. Oh, that’s it, there’s no Jesus. And here is how Osteen responds…

Osteen: “That’s just my message. There is scripture in there that backs it all up. But I feel like, Byron, I’m called to help people…how do we walk out the Christian life? How do we live it? And these are principles that can help you. I mean, there’s a lot better people qualified to say, ‘Here’s a book that going to explain the scriptures to you.’ I don’t think that’s my gifting.”

Now this last sentence is where I lost it. It’s not his “gifting” to teach the Bible? Then why is he a pastor? Because a large part of a pastor’s job description-at least according to the Bible-is to preach and teach and explain the Scriptures. See Titus, and 1 and 2 Timothy to just get started.

Here’s the point: BE CAREFUL! The apostle Paul told us that “fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert…” (Acts 20:29-31). Be alert to anything or anyone that draws you away from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you watched the program, you saw Michael Horton of Westminster Seminary. He has written several articles on Joel Osteen’s teaching and ministry. They are well worth reading.

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