Monday, August 08, 2005

Pastor Ignorant - Joel Osteen Just Doesn't Know!

In contrast to a recent blog I posted of Martin Lloyd-Jones preaching about the fact that some things are true and some things are not, I here offer several excerpts from a recent Larry King interview (June 20, 2005). King was interviewing Joel Osteen, in his words "evangelicalism's hottest rising star." King also referred to him as "the smiling pastor..." I think a better name would be the "I don't know pastor." Or, "Captain Double-Speak." I could go on...

Some quotes:

KING: But don't you think if people don't believe as you believe, they're somehow condemned?

OSTEEN: You know, I think that happens in our society. But I try not to do that. I tell people all the time, preached a couple Sundays about it. I'm for everybody. You may not agree with me, but to me it's not my job to try to straighten everybody out. The Gospel called the good news. My message is a message of hope, that's God's for you. You can live a good life no matter what's happened to you. And so I don't know. I know there is condemnation but I don't feel that's my place.


KING: Because we've had ministers on who said, your record don't count. You either believe in Christ or you don't. If you believe in Christ, you are, you are going to heaven. And if you don't no matter what you've done in your life, you ain't.

OSTEEN: Yeah, I don't know. There's probably a balance between. I believe you have to know Christ. But I think that if you know Christ, if you're a believer in God, you're going to have some good works. I think it's a cop-out to say I'm a Christian but I don't ever do anything ...

KING: What if you're Jewish or Muslim, you don't accept Christ at all?

OSTEEN: You know, I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know ...

KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They're wrong, aren't they?

OSTEEN: Well, I don't know if I believe they're wrong. I believe here's what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God with judge a person's heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don't know. I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.


KING: How about issues that the church has feelings about? Abortion? Same-sex marriages?

OSTEEN: Yeah. You know what, Larry? I don't go there. I just ...

KING: You have thoughts, though.

OSTEEN: I have thoughts. I just, you know, I don't think that a same-sex marriage is the way God intended it to be. I don't think abortion is the best. I think there are other, you know, a better way to live your life. But I'm not going to condemn those people. I tell them all the time our church is open for everybody.

KING: You don't call them sinners?

OSTEEN: I don't.

KING: Is that a word you don't use?

OSTEEN: I don't use it. I never thought about it. But I probably don't. But most people already know what they're doing wrong. When I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change. There can be a difference in your life. So I don't go down the road of condemning.

KING: You believe in the Bible literally?

OSTEEN: I do, I do.

KING: Noah had an ark and Adam and Eve?

OSTEEN: I do. I do. I believe that. I believe it all.


KING: Phoenix, Arizona. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. You're the best, and thank you, Joe -- Joel -- for your positive messages and your book. I'm wondering, though, why you side-stepped Larry's earlier question about how we get to heaven? The bible clearly tells us that Jesus is the way, the truth and the light and the only way to the father is through him. That's not really a message of condemnation but of truth.

OSTEEN: Yes, I would agree with her. I believe that...

KING: So then a Jew is not going to heaven?

OSTEEN: No. Here's my thing, Larry, is I can't judge somebody's heart. You know? Only god can look at somebody's heart, and so -- I don't know. To me, it's not my business to say, you know, this one is or this one isn't. I just say, here's what the bible teaches and I'm going to put my faith in Christ. And I just I think it's wrong when you go around saying, you're saying you're not going, you're not going, you're not going, because it's not exactly my way. I'm just...

KING: But you believe your way.

OSTEEN: I believe my way. I believe my way with all my heart.

KING: But for someone who doesn't share it is wrong, isn't he?

OSTEEN: Well, yes. Well, I don't know if I look at it like that. I would present my way, but I'm just going to let god be the judge of that. I don't know. I don't know.

KING: So you make no judgment on anyone?

OSTEEN: No. But I...

KING: What about atheists?

OSTEEN: You know what, I'm going to let someone -- I'm going to let god be the judge of who goes to heaven and hell. I just -- again, I present the truth, and I say it every week. You know, I believe it's a relationship with Jesus. But you know what? I'm not going to go around telling everybody else if they don't want to believe that that's going to be their choice. God's got to look at your own heart. God's got to look at your heart, and only god knows that.

KING: You believe there's a place called heaven?

OSTEEN: I believe there is. Yes. You know, you've had a lot of the near-death experiences and things like that. Some of that is very, to me, not that you need that as proof, but it shows you these little kids seeing the angels and things like that.

Osteen said "I don't know" 26 times (by my quick count) in the interview, roughly 90% of which were in answer to serious life and death questions! If he does not know who goes to heaven and who does not, what the essence of the Gospel is, what makes one man pleasing to God and another not - then he should go back to producing videos and get out of preaching the Gospel. This is nothing short of a deceptive false-humility.

All quotes from here.


  1. Thanks Pastor Paul...lots to think about. This is so sad read. Please hear me well, its not the man I have difficulty with its what he belives and states(or rather, doesnt state) that troubles me. As a "pastor", what he states should be in line with the Bible...if he believes it. He should say "Gods Word says" not "I say". He uses 'I' alot. Sorry, Mr Osteen I dont want to know your opinion ,I want to know God. Gods word is the standard, not our opinions. Osteen states he believes somthing and then denies it(if not explicitly, at least by stating Jesus is the only way, yet implies that God saves through other means) He doesnt call sin, sin. Im not sure what he call it, but I know what God calls it. God calls it sin! If Osteen says he believes the Bible literally, then denies truth that it contains, thats very damning to those who are listening and beliving what he says and for him as well. If he was either outright denying something or beliving somthing absolutly, that would be better than telling people he doesnt know and being divided in what he says and leading people astray. At least you would know where he stands. Mixing truth with error is deception. If he doesnt know what he belives or what the Bible says, have someone on the show who will answer the questions properly and tell people the truth, rather than not giving a proper answer to very serious questions that people are desperatly seeking answers to. These are peoples souls that are at stake! I would rather be spoken of as a holy man of God than a smiling pastor...I dont want a pastor who is known as 'the smiling pastor'! I want a pastor who preaches the truth!! We are in a war, smiling faces dont change peoples hearts. Only God does and all the glory is His alone. "To God be the Glory"! May we desire God above all things! Thanks Pastor...keep on preaching the truth! Anybody else have any thoughts, comments etc ....

  2. I'm sorry that you put this post up. I'm not sure what you are trying to achieve, I suppose it makes Osteen look stupid if nothing else, however I'm sure that you being as clear about what the Bible says you are aware that 1 Cor 13 says 'love does not delight in the failing of others.' This post would seem to have the opposite spirit - so I'm sad that a man who wants to show the love of Christ would do this to a fellow pastor. Surely you have known the pain of false accusation and misunderstanding and yet you have made the same error as the unforgiving servant.

    Osteen may have made some ambiguous statements about issues that are dear to the hearts of many evangelical Christians, but I wonder how you would fair in the same arena. I have done much TV, radio and press and it is difficult, they are trying to get us to say the wrong things. The best response the Christian community could do is to pray for those in this arena not throw stones.

    Reading the transcript this man's heart is 'mercy not judgement’; sadly I don’t think you have handled him in the same way.

    I wish I could leave my name on this blog, but fear the same unloving treatment would be applied to me, suffice to say if you wish to delete this comment because you feel it's been left by some ‘LIBERAL waste of time’ then feel free to do so. I pray that the Lord will fill you with the same spirit of grace that filled Jesus and that you will learn the ways of Christ not just the words.

    BTW I am a Pastor of a large congregation in the UK, Bible believing lovers of Jesus and that's why your post hurts me even more.

    Please examine your heart, I'm not asking you to change your theology just your methods, you may well be fighting the right battles in the wrong way and in doing so, doing more harm to the gospel.

  3. I am puzzled by your comments; in an earlier post regarding 'Religious Bullying' you suggest that the media cannot be trusted to report the facts.

    Notice how these lines get blurred in the media... if persecution does fall upon Christians in North America, much of it will find its root in this kind of misinformation.

    Yet now you claim that they can be trusted in the matter of Osteen.

    Perhaps you could clarify which you think because presently your thinking seems to be contradictory.

    You also seem to overlook the teaching of Jesus when he said 'if your brother is wrong, then go to him privately first' Did you do this by email or letter and if so could you please post Osteens reply?

  4. My question to you would be this 'Why are you so angry?' It is obvious that it extends beyond what you think you are angry about.

    It may be the case that if you spent as much time examining your own life as you do the life of others then you would be far richer for it.

  5. Quoting the Media:
    A media report of an event or the like is easily slanted to reflect the bias of the reporter. My quotes of Osteen were taken from a word-for-word transcript of the interview - that is factual and gives no room for media bias. There is nothing at all contradictory in my statements from what I can see.

    Posting Private Correspondence:
    I will not post private correspondence on my blog or website - it is private.

  6. On Being Angry:
    I am not sure how you equate posting this transcript with anger?

  7. I'm intrigued by your criticisms here. Jesus explicitly stated that he didn't come to judge the world, but to save it - does this mean therefore that we must judge it instead? Because that's how your comments are coming across to me.

    Osteen is taking the line that God alone is the judge of everyone, and He (God) knows far more than we ever could. I'm happy with that view. Are you trying to take God's place here?

    Finally I would suggest that you might profit from re-reading 1 John, in particular chapter 2: 9-11. Paul suggests that we speak the truth in love, and Jesus commanded us to love one another. Tearing down a fellow pastor on your website conforms to neither.

  8. Hi Chris,
    Here are my thoughts. I assume you are thinking of John 12:47. The whole discourse of Jesus reads as follows:
    44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
    Right away you will notice that if you isolate verse 47 from its context, it makes Jesus sound like He has nothing to do with judging anyone at anytime. Far from it! The very next verse says that His words will judge these people He is speaking to.
    “Taking God’s place?” How is applying what God has clearly revealed in His Word amount to taking His place? The Apostle Paul who said we are all to speak the Truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) also instructed pastors of the church to be on guard against (See for example Acts 20:29-30 “I know that after my departure 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.” Or 1 Timothy 1:3-7 “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.”
    In other words, Paul believed that there was a true gospel and that there was a false gospel. One of the duties of a pastor is to point out error: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9).
    Don’t get fooled by post-modern gobily gook that suggests there is no definite standard of Truth.

  9. Paul,
    I get very angry when I here guys like Osteen, but they are telling the Christians that listen to them what they want to here. These Christians want a god that obeys their every command. Their god is more like a genie than the God of the Bible. This has been going on since the beginning, people want things their own way and they don't want God or anybody else telling them what to do. Now, some Christians have come to realize the errors in these teachings and get out. I was in the word of faith movement for years before getting out. I think there are two types of Christians. Those that want to know the truth about God, even if it leads to a life of extra suffering and effort and those that want to sit back and receive blessings with little or no cost. Some Christians do not want to face reality. When they here teachings that just don't add up, instead of doing the research to find out if what was said was true or not, they just ignore it and go on, hoping that a blessing is in there for them somewhere.
    I'll be back.

  10. Joel Osteen teaches people how to get rich under the guise of that being the Christian Gospel. As far as I can see, and I have preached for over 20 years, God does not care if we ever get rich. He is interested in whether we become acceptable to Him by being covered by the blood of Christ. Character is the big issue with God and not whether we get rich. Please, all preachers, for the sake of all that is holy, stop telling people that the Gospel is about getting rich. There are enough wealth seminars and real estate plans out there to teach us to get rich. The church, however, is the only place someone can go to find out how to get to heaven. Hopefully Osteen will shift and focus on that before he passes into the presence of His God.
    G. N.

  11. Pastor Paul W. Martin, none of us are perfect, not even you and if you think you are, I assure you that you are not. In God's sight we are perfect I suppose - but that is contextual. But tell me something, how do you really know about something until it happens to you. Sometimes parents tell kids not do something but the only way they learn is when they do it out of the will of the parents. I am not condoning sins but what I am saying is that I share the belief with Joel that I should not be the one to condemn (when something is taken from the bible, you say its taken from the bible... which was said by someone else who was probably more fit to say it, example what Jesus says)... after all, we're not the ones to judge people's hearts.