all of my Joel Osteen posts in one package!
By way of introduction, I should note (again) that I know relatively little about Joel Osteen. I have not seen/heard him preach. Most of what I "know" about him is based on the one book I read by him-- and then various things that I've read or discussed with others (quite awhile ago). (Update on 11/1/15: Since this, I have heard him a handful of times on satellite radio and am even less concerned than what appears below.)
Two other data points: 1.) I've heard people blow him up in a way that seems uncharitable and biased. (I read someone today who messed with Osteen on identical grounds to that which they would defend in John Piper.) I tend to defend those being attacked unfairly, even if the attacks have merit. (If you're going to be right, you should aim to be right, correctly!) 2.) My brother, completely against the relevant stereotypes, is a big fan of Osteen's. (It's akin to me knowing a few people who say they've spoken in tongues AND they're the last people in the world who would say that.) Chris' testimony gives me even greater pause to avoid condemning what I don't know well at all.
Anyway, here's what I have on the blog:
My lengthy review of Osteen's book, Your Best Life Now (check out the comment section underneath the review/post!)
A comparison of Osteen to Chip Ingram
Comments on a C-J article by Peter Smith on the occasion of Osteen coming to Louisville in 2007
Reflections on Osteen's particular audience: here and here. If we allow for different messages within a "seeker-sensitive" context, etc., what leeway do we give here?
Reflections on the truth that everything here is wheat and chaff. But when does chaff cross the line to "poison"?
One of my comments from a thread coming off of this post:
We agree on the importance of the Gospel. But the question is whether Osteen faithfully delivers it to his audience. We've heard mixed testimony in this thread. And what I've seen directly has been within bounds. (I'd still like to here what critics say about my book review.)
So I must refrain from chucking rocks without more evidence. Hopefully, that's easy to understand. As for others: if you have a good bit of direct, negative evidence, then feel free to chuck rocks. If not, then kindly shut up.
Along the same lines, Mohler's piece should not be used as evidence, since he does not explain why he's a fan of Piper's "Christian Hedonism" in Desiring God and so critical of the Osteens. (For the record, I think Piper's book is fabulous.)
One other thought: when one says Osteen is "out of balance", it implies some context-- most notably, his audience. To note, if I treat child/student X a certain way, I might be out of balance in one way; if I treat child/student Y the same way, I might be out of balance in the opposite way. We don't read Mt 5 or Mt 23 by themselves and say Jesus was "out of balance".
Clearly, Osteen's audience is the walking wounded. Likewise, Southeast's audience is (relatively) seeker-sensitive. Other churches are preaching to other audiences, that require a different approach. *As long as* it's the gospel-- and good news will necessarily mean different things to different people-- we have freedom in I Cor 9:22 in how it's delivered.
As for lazy Christians enabling Osteen. I suppose so, if he's a heretic. Then again, it's a relatively rare church that focuses on a full-blooded version of the Great Commission. Converts? Oh yes. Disciples-- in some weak sense? Yes, tons of that. Disciples who can make disciples who can make disciples? Not so much.
What's your church's plan to do that? If it doesn't have one, look in the mirror and focus on what you can/should change. On the one hand, it's a command. On the other hand, to paraphrase Piper, Mrs. Osteen, and Dallas Willard: it'll make you and God happy.