Challies Reviews Osteen’s “Become a Better You”
I’m not a fan of Joel Osteen. Don’t get me wrong, I like Joel. He is genuine and sincere, and the interviews he gave for which he has become known (the one about evangelicals and the recent interview on “60 Minutes”) show that. I can’t detect a hint of guile about him, and I like to think I have a pretty good bull detector these days. Of course, we tend to deceive ourselves first before realizing the truth, but I digress. When I first discovered him on TV, I enjoyed listening to him (and still do). But the more I listened to him, the less I liked what he preaches. No gospel whatsoever. No Jesus whatsoever, at least not the Jesus of the Bible. Lots of “fluff Christianity,” though. And an enormous amount of self-help and pop psychology, as well. Unfortunately, self-help doesn’t save people from hell.
We shouldn’t be surprised that Osteen preaches what he does. By his own admission he has never studied theology. In fact, he believes that if you want to know what Scripture teaches you’d be better off going to someone else. He is a college dropout whose previous job was running a camera at his church while his dad was the pastor. All his life he’s heard his dad preach the same message, which has come to be known these days as the “prosperity gospel.” This is all Joel knows and is quite possibly all he cares to know. And as some have opined, he’s likely enabled by those around him to stay theologically ignorant and reliant on this false gospel he preaches. Osteen, and those who follow him, are likely unbelievers at worst; or at best they may be what the book’s title becomes in acronym form: “BaBY.”
Tim Challies captures my sentiments on Osteen exactly, by way of illustration:
“There are few things I love to eat more than bread. I just love a good loaf of white bread. I eat it the way many people eat junk food (and, I suppose, one could argue that it is junk food). Not too long ago we bought a bread maker from a person nearby who was selling all his possessions to move back to his native Poland, having found that North American living was not to his liking. The machine worked well for five loaves but on the sixth, while the bread was being kneaded, I heard a strange grinding sound followed by a sharp crack. I opened the machine and saw that the paddle, the piece that beats against the dough, had broken. I removed the lump of dough and decided I could simply put it in a bread pan and bake it on my own. A few minutes later I pulled the loaf from the oven. It looked just perfect—golden brown on top and shaped a whole lot better than the loaves that come out of the bread maker. I eagerly cut into it, looking forward to enjoying a slice of bread. But, to my surprise, I cut into, well, nothing, really. Apparently the dough had not been properly kneaded. The loaf of bread was full of air; it was full of nothing. I had baked a crust.
As I thought about Joel Osteen’s new book, Become a Better You, I was reminded of that sad, pathetic little loaf of bread because this book, like that bread, is form without substance.”
And we all know what Scripture says in 2 Timothy 3:1-8 about form without substance:
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. (ESV)
Joel Osteen, wittingly or unwittingly, is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Please be careful of him and those like him. Again, read Challies’ review here.