Monday, October 15, 2007

Joel Osteen on 60 Minutes

The sons are rising. They’re here. The sons of great American televangelists. You know the names: Swaggart, Shuller, Robertson, Roberts, and then there’s Osteen.

I used to watch his father John Osteen. I remember switching after 15 minutes or so. He reminded of a little chipmunk on two pots of coffee chattering a prosperity gospel message. His son has the same message packaged differently. His son is on decaf, less scary--he’s Mr. Cool—I like him.

Click to watch Joel Osteen's 60 Minutes episode.

He is the pinnacle of pastoral success. He has 7,000,000 viewers in over 100 foreign countries listening to his message of hope, of his telling people the forgotten elementary principle “God is good”. Those viewers give $30 million in contributions. He never asks for them for money unlike the way televangelists are known for.

His church is nothing to sneeze at either. 10-15,000 worship in his Houston stadium converted into a church. They put $43 million per year into KFC-looking offering buckets. They don’t look like a dead church either. Pastor Osteen considers himself a motivator, an inspirer. His hypo-optimism, different from his father’s hyper-optimism, is contagious. He believes all people are born to prosper and he is just a life-coach of sorts. Interesting.

More than the TV and stadium church, his books are where the big money is. 60 Minutes didn’t say how much cabbage that brings in, but they did mention he received a $13 million advance for his yet printed book Become a Better You. 60 Minutes also mentioned Jesus, God, and the Gospel are not mentioned in his text. In fact, Rev. Michael Horton of Westminster Seminary labeled his message “heresy”. He called it a “Cotton Candy Gospel” that says “God is nice, you’re nice, I’m nice”. Something one would expect as a benediction before snack time at Romper Room Nursery School.

What does a pastor like me say to all this. Believe me, he has a glorious church, a great following, and reaching a mass of people where few pastors have gone before. He’s a good guy. He’s a family man and he works hard. He cries in gratitude and humility for how God is using him. To boot, the guy can bench press 300 pounds, and plays basketball really well. All that is good; but what about the gospel?

Only 1 passage comes to mind from the Apostle Paul’s writings, “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). I need to probe deeper to make sure 60 Minutes didn’t portray Osteen negatively, but if he isn’t preaching the gospel and teaching his people to do that too, he is neither doing his job nor what Jesus commissioned. I will probe deeper. I am actually surprised they painted him so well.


Dee said...

You asked for my views on Huckabee and I gave them in one of my posts today. I stressed that they are just my personal impressions.

Bob said...

I am glad you are suspicious of sixty minutes, and that you are going to probe further. I'll be interested in what you find.

The man is reaching a whole lot of people.

My sister was a Romper Room teacher. I was a good "Do-Bee."

Bob said...

I think you have a typo. 43 million divided by ten thousand equals $4300 per week per person. It must be a yearly amount, not weekly.

Chip said...

"43 million a week"

Thanx B,
I will make the change. That would be a nice tithe.

Remember the magic miorror? They never said my name. Wished my name was Bobby.

Chip said...

I had coffee with a friend today who likes Pastor Joel but feels his Gospel message has been absent over the years. He informed me Joel doesn't accept a salary but lives off the proceeds from his book. He's not money hungry; most guys would do both. I probe.

I wonder how this 60 Minutes piece will effect his ministry, upcoming book sales, and TV show -- (+) or (-).

Bob said...

I saw the book tonight at the supermarket (discounted 40% to $15). I looked through it. Almost every single page mentions God. It actually looks to me like a good read, with very sound advice.

Chip said...

I'll check it out. I am always skeptical of 60 Minutes.
Thanks for the info. chip.

RT said...

I think for a lot of people who feel like God is a dark cloud of condemnation over them, it is good that there are pastors like Joel Osteen out there. He makes it clear that bad things happen, etc. . . I think he does come across a little to light in the gospel area, but I always hope that God wouldn't prosper a ministry that isn't ultimately doing what God wants it to do.

That said, boiled down, he preaches faith and confidence in God and God's power to work in every area of our lives. He also gives a brief "invitation" at the end of each broadcast. As a believer there are things he says that I need to be reminded of (see the condemnation thing), and I appreciate his ministry.

Some are fire and brimstone, some are not. I was brought up in a very legalistic environment. I need a little cotton candy and ear tickling once in a while to remind me God isn't waiting to hit me with lightning, but to hug me (or something like that).

Chip said...

Great thoughts.
I don't know much about Joel O., just what 60 Minutes portrayed. Not every church is for every person. The more I dig the more I am learning he does preach the gospel.

Rigid tradition aye? That's a tough one. I wish all churches were well balanced but they all seem to teeter between legalism and lawlessness.
I still have my eye on Pastor Joel. Despite what 60 Minutes says, I hope he has some balance. He serves a lot of people. Blessings RT

Anonymous said...

brother joel be the resl deal y'all,he rocks!his messages are right out of the B-I-B-L-E-,thats the book for me brau. love,johnny

Anonymous said...

also,the compact center holds 16,000 worshippers.the man fills it up 3x on sundays.not bad for no seminary background...jn

Anonymous said...

'it's getting to the point,where i'm no fun anymore.i am sorry.sometimes it hurts,so badly i must cry out loud,i am lonely.i am are are what you make it hard...suite judy blue eyes...cs&n

Chip said...

Good points. Some people rightly call seminary "cemetery". Seminary has gotten a bad wrap since the days of the Pharisees. When it gets right down to it, the man is reaching others for Christ and does raise up the Good Book affirming its value. Does he still do that "This is my Bible" pledge? Many seminary grads spend so much time "critiquing" the Bible that they hardly find time to discover its meaning and relevance. The jury is moving less and less from Osteen toward 60 minutes. Besides, when you get a fruit like Dan Rather pouting that he can't be on the show more, you know they must be a tad fruity too. I will be watching your boy Joel more to see if he is indeed preaching the good news.
Thanks for visiting C3 my brother.

Chip said...


Thanks for the lyrics. I wish CS&N (and sometimes 'Y') would just stick to singing and stay out of politics.
John McCain was on Saturday Night Live singing Barbara Steisand songs very badly.

He said if Babs would keep her nose out of politics he wouldn't sing. It's a funny sketch if you can catch it.