Video by Steve Langella
Tagged in: word of faith
Joel Scott Osteen (1963-present)
“Ministry” website: Joelosteen.com
Approximate net worth: $40 million
Notable achievements: Successfully paraded “prosperity” and self-help positive thinking as Christianity; Indoctrinated millions of goats into the ancient heresy of pelagianism.
Core message: Have faith in faith; believe in yourself; everything’s gonna be alright.
At peace with Rome: YES
With such an enormous selection of charlatans, Scripture-twisters, charismaniacs and other assorted proclaimers of another gospel to choose from, it was a difficult task to settle on the first inductee into our heretics “hall of shame.” There are many good candidates suitable for our first winner of the Heretic of the Month Club, but when the bogus baptism bonanza that took place at Lakewood Church was reported on by Pulpit and Pen on the last day of January, my selection of Smilin’ Joel Osteen was solidified.
When it comes to chicanery, Smilin’ Joel never lets us down. With every passing year the joke-telling prosperity preacher consistently “preaches” the same “sermon” and publishes the same book (with a different title and cover) over and over again, ever adding to both his own personal “prosperity” and own personal condemnation. One might have thought that by now Joel’s popularity might have waned. After all, he’s been in the huckster business for some time and has some serious competition in the marketplace. But Joel continues to press on, not being one to ever lose faith (in himself). Joelosteen.com boasts that over 100 million homes in the US watch his Sunday circus and that his podcast “is consistently one of the top five in the world.”
So we see that the Word-of-Faith, prosperity preaching pelagianism of Joel Osteen continues to thrive, despite the rise of many newly devoted wolves in sheeps’ clothing cropping up all over “evangelicalism”. Of course, denying the exclusivity of Christ is always helpful in expanding your outreach and growing your flock (more accurately, expanding your customer base and growing your bottom line).
Naturally, Osteen is at peace with Rome and has personally met with Antichrist. Ecumenicalism and an anti-Protestant profession of faith (in this case, faith in faith instead of faith in God) is essential to the success of any committed pelagian prosperity preacher.
Without further ado, we not-so-proudly present Smilin’ Joel Osteen as our first Heretic of the Month. We credit him with an innate ability to satisfy the itching ears of fallen humanity by telling it precisely what it wants to hear and his consistent pouring of gasoline on the fire of self-esteem already raging out of control.*
Information regarding Joel Osteen’s credentials and rightful entitlement to the position of January 2017 Heretic of the Month and additional information may be found at:
Robert M. Bowman, Jr., “Joel Osteen”, Watchman Fellowship Profile, 2007. http://www.watchman.org/
Joe Schimmel, The Word Faith Heresy (mp3 CD), https://www.goodfight.org/product/the-word-faith-heresy/
Justin Peters, Clouds Without Water [formerly “A Call for Discernment”] (DVD), http://justinpeters.org/store/
http://www.worldviewweekend.com/search/transcript/joel%20osteen (available to Situation Room members).
* To borrow a phrase from the late Dave Hunt concerning self-esteem.
Recently I was listening to a preacher on AM radio when he went on a tangent condemning what is commonly referred to as “signs and wonders.” He appeared to be quite set against the modern proliferation of prophetic utterances and so-called miraculous healings dominating “Christian” radio and television. I agree with his sentiment; my concern with his message is not that he opposed the so-called apostolic gifts of modern charismania but rather the way in which he framed his argument.
Basically, the argument was as follows: “How do we know that there are no charismatic gifts of healing today? Because we do not see any happening. Charismatics can talk all they want about gifts of healing but we do not see these miracles being performed today and so we can rest assured that such gifts have ceased.”
For this gentleman, whose opinion concerning the continuation of gifts given to the NT apostles I am in agreement with, the lack of empirical evidence was sufficient to dismiss such an alleged spiritual phenomenon. The problem with this argument, however, should be pointed out so that we do not make the same mistake in our zeal to defend against the excesses of charismania.
The premise upon which the conclusion (that miracles have ceased) is built is: we do not see them happening. First, this preacher appears to miss the fact that his opponents—the advocates for continuationism—would simply retort that we do see them happening. In fact, the epistemological method employed by both parties here is the same: empiricism. Certainly, while I have not personally observed such purported miracles myself, there are many who claim that they have indeed witnessed them. The fallacy of induction is evident because neither party is capable of observing every case in history across the globe in order to definitively say, empirically, “miracles do not happen”. If someone claims to have experienced a miraculous healing by way of a Word of Faith healer in Africa (even though the smartphone-laden generation did not take it upon themselves to document such a rare and miraculous occurence), who am I to argue against his experience? Likewise, if I insist that I have yet to observe a purported miracle by way of a Word of Faith healer, how can the WoF advocate insist that I must have in fact observed such occurrences?
The point is, in fact, that all of this is beside the point. Rather than a discourse on the flaws of empiricism (which would itself invalidate the claims of the WoF movement), I want to show that this probably well-intentioned preacher was delivering an argument against modern miracles by appealing to his experience and not by appealing to the Word of God. My criticism is not of his position as a cessationist, nor do I disagree that there is a lack of the empirical evidence you would expect to find if such miracles were happening today, nor will I here attempt to exegete the necessary Scriptures to make a case for cessationism. My point here simply is that the man’s authority on this subject was his personal experience—his appeal was to the same authority as the advocate of modern miracles! Word of Faith advocates appeal to their experience which is what validates the movement, putting us in a stalemate. Only when one is willing to appeal to the only authority (Scripture) can we find a legitimate basis for either accepting or denying post-apostolic miraculous healings. If knowledge is propositional truth as revealed in Scripture and not a collection of universals formulated by a posteriori reasoning, then it is the biblical text which must be the foundation upon which our position rests, irrespective of the experience had by continuationists and cessationists alike.
 Justin Peters’ comments are of interest here. On page 72 of his 2002 Master’s thesis (An examination and critique of the life, ministry, and theology of healing evangelist Benny Hinn) he writes: “The proof of Hinn’s purported healings is conspicuous by its absence. Even if documented miracles were common in Hinn’s ministry, they would not in and of themselves legitimize it (Matt. 7:22-23). It seems that nearly all of those on stage claiming to have been healed suffer from maladies that are not readily visible, such as stomach ulcers, cancers, or bad backs. If God is truly healing people through Benny Hinn, where are the amputees, the blind, the imbecilic, the maimed, and the crippled? They are sitting, or sometimes lying, on the back of the floor area safely away from the watchful eyes of the numerous television cameras. If some do venture forward, they are ushered away just as was this author.”