As I read Joel Osteen’s website and the answers he gives to reporters’ questions, the words of St. Paul ring true:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach contrary to the one who preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If aanyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:6-9, ESV).
What is the reason for this post? Is it that I’m a Lutheran, and we just like to take potshots at people with whom we disagree? Perhaps that is true, but that’s not why I’m writing this. This is about someone with enormous influence, both among Christians and among those who are on the outside looking in. What do they see when they see Joel Osteen as a representative of Christianity?
It should set off buzzers, spinning red lights, and air-horns when a church website spends more space on its facilities, programs, your “spiritual needs,” and what you can get out of them to live a more fulfilling life than the space it uses on who Jesus Christ is. Sure, there’s lots of sugary, pious God-talk; but what does it have to do with Jesus? The only God you can know outside of Christ is a judging, demanding, absolute, and damning God, a God whose hands one fears to fall into, a God who is a consuming fire. That God, however, does not sound at all like the one being preached at Lakewood Church (a.k.a, Compaq Center). Is it a big surprise that only one of the five pastors/ministers/directors is ordained, and he’s last on the list?
They do mention Jesus in the “What We Believe” section, but it’s clear from the rest of the site that those parts about Jesus are the perfunctory doctrine, blah, blah, blah parts. What’s really important are the last two:
WE BELIEVE…every believer should be in a growing relationship with Jesus by obeying God’s Word, yielding to the Holy Spirit and by being conformed to the image of Christ.
WE BELIEVE…as children of God, we are overcomers and more than conquerors and God intends for each of us to experience the abundant life He has in store for us.
[You’ll look in vain for that last part in the Apostles’ Creed.] How do I know those are the most important parts? Because at the top of the page are these words: “Discover the Champion in You.” Substitute “Divine” for “Champion” and I don’t think Lakewood changes too much.