The Popular Teachings of Joel Osteen: Beware

The Popular Teachings of Joel Osteen: Beware

I wrote a devotion on awareness of the “Balaams” among us – men and women who may have heard from God at some time in their lives and may even preach parts of the truth but who are focused on worldly goals. (See Bad Guys are Good Warnings.)

Jude 1:11 talks of false teachers who “have rushed for profit into Balaam's error.”

Although I mentioned no names, one reader wrote to defend Joel Osteen. The fact that this description of Balaam made her think of Osteen is quite revealing.

Osteen is wildly popular for his teachings on prosperity and self-esteem, and he's well known for his extravagant lifestyle.

The Popular Teachings of Joel Osteen: Beware
This is how I responded to this woman’s defense of Osteen:

I never trust what others say about a teacher or preacher because sometimes they take things they've said out of context or they tell you what the teacher "meant" not what he actually said. And that's slander.

We should never listen to critics who are sarcastic or who make claims without clear evidence.

That's why I have listened to Joel Osteen myself - listened to his words and his teachings. And much of what he says is wrong Scripturally.

One morning I listened to his entire sermon on television. He said whatever follows our “I am” statements will follow us, so we should daily say “I am beautiful. I am special.” He even claimed that if we say “I am getting younger” we’ll look more youthful.

But Proverbs 27:2 says, "Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips."

And Romans 12:3 says: "Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking, and judge yourself according to the amount of faith that God has given you."

Osteen focused on external things like beauty and youth, but God's focus is always on men's hearts:

1 Samuel 16:7: "the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'"

The Popular Teachings of Joel Osteen: Beware
Next, Osteen said Psalm 139 was David's way of saying “I am amazing. I am wonderful.”

But Psalm 139 doesn't say those things. It says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and it is a praise for the Creator, not for ourselves.

Finally, Osteen said Sarah could not have conceived Isaac had she not gained confidence in herself.

But God actually allowed Sarah to conceive despite her doubts in God, herself and her husband's age. Genesis 18:10-15 makes this very clear.

Osteen claimed we should always make positive statements about ourselves, but God calls us to humility, not pride in self. And one of the greatest teachers of the Gospel, the Apostle Paul, made this humble "I am" statement in 1 Timothy 1:15: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst."

Scripture is very clear that the only one who deserves constant praise is the Great I Am - our Lord (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58).

All of these errors were contained in a single message that Osteen gave, one which I listened to in its entirety, so nothing I've written here is taken out of context. This sermon promoted love for self, pride, and false promises. And it twisted Scriptures to fit this false teaching.

Of course, we could ask ourselves if Osteen was having a bad day and preached some things without thinking them through. But that's not the case because he's written a book called "The Power of I Am: Two Words That Will Change Your Life Today." This sermon clearly represents his beliefs.

So, I must disagree with you about Osteen.

He is incredibly popular, and sometimes he says things that are Scriptural, but his teaching is riddled with errors that promote worldly values.
For more about Osteen's Errors:
Osteenification and What it Portends
Review of Osteen's Book Your Best Life Now
False Teachers, False Words

The Popular Teachings of Joel Osteen: Beware


  1. Amen. God deserves the honor and the glory.

  2. It is imperative that all believers of God know and understand how to rightfully handle the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15). Likewise, we, as believers (of God's Word) are not to construct (a personal) Doctrine beyond Scripture. Hosea 4:6 Old speaks of God's displeasure of those who rejected sound and true knowledge of God's Word; and what happened to them and their children... "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...

    May we all grow in our understanding of God's Word, rightfully handling the Word in Spirit and in truth.


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