Joel Osteen is in the news again. This time for his statement that he believes Mormons are genuine Christians. For more detail we refer you to Joel Osteen: Mitt Romney and Mormons Are Christians. Here though we continue with our look into the salient question posed a while back: What’s That You Say Joel Osteen? Well now, once upon a time in the world Osteen lives in, it seems there was a man who just couldn’t understand – “Why anyone would call me a prosperity preacher?” And so we offer this at Apprising Ministries as a way to help you see why…

Don’t Worry, Be Happy And Other Mantras From The New Age

Only someone who has been mesmerized by Joel Osteen (it’s more common than you think) or who has little grasp of the English language could possibly miss the fact that Osteen is clearly a “preacher” who has thoroughly ingested the spiritual poison of the Word Faith Movement (WFM); and a major tenet of this metaphysical Gnostic cult is what has become known as the “prosperity gospel.” As this progresses we’ll be looking more at its odious origin for those who are new to this spiritual con game, but for now let’s just see if we might be able to help “pastor” Osteen to understand why it is he is perceived as a “prosperity” preacher.

For our purposes here I’m going to begin by using a couple of excerpts from the following article by Jason Byassee, who is an assistant editor with the liberal publication Christian Century, entitled “Be happy The health and wealth gospel” (sic). As time allows I will be expanding this examination of the theology of Joel Osteen to include other source material to document the incontrovertable fact that Osteen is a distinct menace for immature and unsuspecting sheep in the Body of Christ, and a grievously horrific example of a Christian preacher to the overly tolerant simplistic society of the foreign mission field we call America.

In the aforementioned article Be happy The health and wealth gospel Byassee is reviewing Osteen’s best-selling book Your Best Life Now. This in itself is primary source material which proves that Osteen is firmly in the WFM camp, but that is for another day. Right now Byassee says:

“The smiling preacher,” as he is referred to, has also charmed his way into a longtime presence on the New York Times best-seller list with Your Best Life Now: Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential (Warner Faith). Osteen has reason to smile. He has taken the congregation started by his father and turned it into what is reportedly the largest church in the U.S. And he has (as he is quick to tell us) an elegant home, well-adjusted kids and an adoring “partner in ministry.” A dozen celebrities from the realms of politics, sports and entertainment praise him on the book jacket.

Like most religious-television and -publishing moguls, Osteen has received scant attention in the mainline church world. And even evangelical commentators have not been complimentary. One has referred to Osteen’s “cotton-candy theology.” Indeed, there’s not much substance here. Your Best Life Now is another entry in the long list of American contributions to the prosperity gospel: just improve your attitude, keep your chin up, and God’s blessings will rain down on you. Russell Conwell said it a century ago, Norman Vincent Peale said it 50 years ago and Bruce Wilkinson said it with The Prayer of Jabez a few years back. (Online source)

I’ve said it before, but if this is all Osteen was about there wouldn’t be any discussion from discernment ministries such as this one. I have zero interest in motivational speakers per se; the problem is that Joel Osteen is also a pastor, and then goes on to claim that what he preaches is in line with Holy Scripture. And not only that, but I am one who has had the misfortune (though God would turn it into a blessing) of having had much experience with aberrant Charismatic churches, even attending WFM churches briefly. It is from this personal experience that I also know the spiritual pride that accompanies WFM adherents, and Osteen would also consider himself a first-rate “spirit-filled” Christian because he teaches the supposed “full” Gospel, i.e. believers must speak in tongues as the sign of this “second blessing.”

So the problem is not Joel Osteen as a public motivational speaker; men and women the issue is Osteen claiming that the metaphysical Gnostic hogwash which follows is actually taught in the Bible. Byassee goes on to point out that Osteen writes:

The secret is to enlarge your vision. Are you satisfied with that little house you’re in? You shouldn’t be. You should want the sort of mansion the Osteens live in (his example). You should expect people to go out of their way to help you—then they will.

You must also “discover the power of your thoughts and words.” If you beat yourself up all the time, if you don’t think yourself worthy of divine abundance, God won’t give it. God helps us, to be sure, but we must help ourselves first. You must “let go of the past.” Rather than being consumed with bitterness, you have to forgive and move on.

Finally, you must “choose to be happy.” You can’t put it off till tomorrow or till that next financial milestone is reached. You should smile a lot, and good things will come your way. You also must work hard, for God won’t bless someone who’s slothful. You have to be a person of excellence. Arrive at work early, leave late, respect your boss, don’t waste time on the job—then you’ll be promoted and then you’ll be happier.

Osteen imagines an objection: “You may be thinking, ‘this sounds too good to be true, Joel.'” To which he replies: “I know it’s true! I saw the power of our thoughts and words turn an impossible situation in my own family into a modern-day medical miracle.” His mother was diagnosed with cancer and given only weeks to live. She overcame the disease by claiming victory over it, firing scripture verses at adversity and thumbing her nose at death. She is still living, decades later.

There is an entire book here in what could be written about what is wrong with the above, but space here allows just a couple of pertinent points re. the prosperity gospel and the WFM theology Joel Osteen teaches. First, the Gnostic metaphysical doctrine of the Mind Science cults can clearly be seen in the buzz words: “enlarge your vision,” and “discover the power of your thoughts.” These are mantras of the New Age, and they are not true, nor are they even new.

Satan’s Doubleplay Combo: Peale To Schueller To Osteen–“You’re Out!”

This is just the tip of a veritable iceberg of satanic doctrine that has slithered from the serpent into the Evangelical church since World War II. From his book Positive Thinking Every Day, Norman Vincent Peale writes: “People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.” And further, Peale says: “Those who are fired with an enthusiastic idea and who allow it to take hold and dominate their thoughts find that new worlds open for them. As long as enthusiasm holds out, so will new opportunities.”

In the foreword to The Fourth Dimension, Paul (David) Yongii Cho’s own book of metaphysical Gnosticism–Norman Vincent Peale’s protégé Robert Schuller said: “I discovered the reality of that dynamic dimension in prayer that comes through visualizing….. Don’t try to understand it. Just start to enjoy it! It’s true. It works. I tried it.” There’s good reason Schuller would “try it,” because Cho’s words echo his own New Age mentor Peale’s–not to mention they are classic WFM jargon:

There is a reason to use the power of the spoken word: through it you create and release the presence of Jesus Christ. . . Jesus is bound to what you speak forth. . . You create the presence of Jesus with your mouth. . .He is bound by your lips and your words.
(Copy on file)

And then in “Possibility Thinking: Goals,” a cassette tape for the Amway Corporation Schuller also says – “You don’t know what power you have within you!… You make the world into anything you choose. Yes, you can make your world into whatever you want it to be.” Has God the Holy Spirit finally opened your understanding to see the exact same teachings in Joel Osteen’s “positive” message? And it’s not really so positive after all, is it?

Now let’s consider the following excerpts from Osteen’s sermon “Holding On To Your Dreams Part 8,” and you will see him admit to preaching the “full” gospel of the WFM that I discussed earlier, and you will also clearly see the Gnostic metaphysical psycho-philosophies of Satan’s Mind Science cults have come right into our Lord’s Church through the Devil’s deadly doubleplay combination of Peale to Schueller to Osteen:

But today I want to talk to you about how we need to do everything we can do to make our dreams come to pass. We need to do our part in seeing our prayers get answered. You see when God gives you a dream, it’s a possibility. It doesn’t mean that it necessarily is going to positively come to pass. It’s a possibility. He’s going to see what you’re going to do with it. And sometimes in the faith movement or in the Full Gospel movement, we hit a sticking point.

In other words, you’re going to have to do everything you can do to make your dreams come true. You’ve got to put some actions behind your faith. This is so important. It’s so simple, but it’s so important. A lot of times we sit back and say, “God, we’re waiting on You.” But in reality, God’s waiting on us to take that first step of faith. I’ve read (I wonder where) where there are three types of people: aggressive people. These are people that make things happen, aggressive people. There are people that watch things happen. Those are passive people. And then there’s people that wonder what happened.

God wants you to be aggressive in seeing your dreams come to pass. You’ve got to do everything you can do to make your dreams come to pass… The bible (sic) says in II Corinthians 6:1 that we are workers together with Christ. Have you ever read that? It means we work together with God in seeing our dreams come to pass. We work together with God in seeing our prayers get answered… We’ve got to do everything we can do to make our dreams come true. (SER_HOTYD_008, copy on file)

Beloved, you just can’t be any more man-centered and self-oriented than this proud and antichrist garbage! Nor can you be any closer to teaching the exact same things Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller have taught. In fact in Joel Osteen Speaks of Faith to 18,000 Believers in N.Y., an article covering the spectacle “An Evening With Joel Osteen” on The Christian Post website we’re told that Osteen’s wife Victoria joined him on stage and then “Side by side, the two explained the power of faith and thinking positively.” And who literally wrote the book on The Power of Positive Thinking? One Norman Vincent Peale. And so I ask: O Lord, what is it going to take for these people to finally see?

The Oldest Lie In The Book

It is a sad fact that Satan has taken this nation hostage through thoroughly twisting the blessings of prosperity, and the rapid explosion of technological advances that God has given to the United States, particularly since the 1940’s. What has happened, very generally, is that we have gone into a postmodern skepticism and a laziness in virtually every area of life reminiscent of the over-stuffed sleepiness that inevitably comes on after a large Thanksgiving Day meal. The root of this travesty is the man-centered, self-oriented teachings of modernism [aka liberalism] as espoused by the infamous men quoted above. Ah, did you know that it is quite easily traced right back to the Garden of Eden.

To most who study what is called the New Thought, the “father” of this satanic movement is generally acknowledged to be Phineas P. Quimby (1802-1866). This is the movement which would give rise to the modern Gnostic metaphysical non-Christian cults such as The Unity School of Christianity (Schuller has allowed their “ministers” to preach in his church!) and Christian Science. As a matter of fact, “Mary Baker Eddy (formerly known as by the surname Patterson) developed a movement out of the ideas she derived from Quimby’s teachings. Through the treatment for her poor health, Eddy came to be a student of Phineas Quimby and out of this came her own unique ideas about metaphysical healing.” (Online source)

This website cited above is devoted to the teachings of Quimby, which are drawn from the poisonous well of metaphysical Gnosticism as you’ll come to see in a moment. Watch for the genesis of Peale’s teachings as you see that P.P. Quimby taught that “spiritual matter, or fine interpenetrating substance, directly responsive to thought and subconsciously embodying in the flesh the fears, beliefs, hopes, errors, and joys of the mind.” In other words, what you think will then create the actual reality of what happens to you. Thus it is rooted in dualism, which is to say there is a “good” force at war with a “bad” force in the universe, and if you visualize positive imagery and thought toward the good, then good things will happen to you. Don’t you see this is exactly what each of these pawns of Satan are teaching!

And Quimby also said:

MY THEORY: the trouble is in the mind, for the body is only the house for the mind to dwell in . . . If your mind has been deceived by some invisible enemy into a belief, you have put it into the form of a disease, with or without your knowledge. By my theory or truth I come in contact with your enemy and restore you to health and happiness. — volume 3, page 208 of Quimby’s Complete Writings (ibid. ,caps in original, emphasis added)

As we then trace this dualistic and deadly doctrine back further to the Gnostics of the first century, the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry informs us concerning just what these dreamers believed about God and man:

A more detailed Gnostic theology is as follows. The unknowable God was far too pure and perfect to have anything to do with the material universe which was considered evil. Therefore, God generated lesser divinities, or emanations. One of these emanations, Wisdom desired to know the unknowable God. Out of this erring desire the demiurge an evil god was formed and it was this evil god that created the universe. He along with archons kept the mortals in bondage in material matter and tried to prevent the pure spirit souls from ascending back to god after the death of the physical bodies. Since, according to the Gnostics, matter is evil, deliverance from material form was attainable only through special knowledge revealed by special Gnostic teachers. Christ was the divine redeemer who descended from the spiritual realm to reveal the knowledge necessary for this redemption. In conclusion, Gnosticism is dualistic. That is, it teaches there is a good and evil, spirit and matter, light and dark, etc. dualism in the universe. (Online source)

The Serpentine Lie Of The Love Of Self

And just who would have hatched such a Christ-denying, man-centered self-oriented deception such as this? Satan. So you see, we then arrive right back at the mouth of the serpent who started all this confusion in the Garden when he fed Eve’s pride in self and told her: You will be as God. Dr. John MacArthur shares this bit of insight as he discusses why by Adam and Eve–even prior to the fall–by their reason alone (i.e. what they would think about) couldn’t know what God wanted them to do, so our Creator had to reveal such knowledge to them:

Natural theologians should be shocked to discover that Adam couldn’t know divine truth by his perfect reason; he couldn’t by his own reason; his own perfect intellect, he couldn’t have come to know that he was not to eat this and he was to eat that, to name the animals, etc.,… God had to tell him all of that… You can study the religions of the world, the philosophers of the world, the theologians of the world–none of them ever comes with the right understanding of man’s creation and man’s depravity. None of them; they don’t ever, because you can’t get there from depraved reasoning.

And remember this, that when Satan got in the garden, perfect man, with a perfect mind, perfect understanding, perfect reasoning–in that condition–the Devil comes in and what did he want does he want Adam and Eve to distrust? Their reason; no God’s Word. So he says to them: Has God said? You can’t trust God’s word. What Satan always wants us to do is to distrust special revelation, and instead to trust our reason… He says: You can’t believe God, God lies…you’re going be like God; competition, He doesn’t like that. Satan tempted man to trust his reason and reject revelation from the mouth of God (“The Exclusiveness of the Bible, Part One,” Grace To You Weekend broadcast 10/1/05)

And did you know that this pride-filled lie itself truly goes back even further? It goes all the way back to before man was even created, and it was pride in self that got Lucifer thrown out of Heaven in the first place:


How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

(Isaiah 14:12:14, KJV).

Did notice that five times in just two verses of Scripture Satan uses “I”; what I can/will do. Men and women, do you finally see the origin of the emerging church of the purpose driven life of positive thinking and self-centered seeker sensitive philosophies?

Who Is Really Important–God Or Man?

As we get set to close out this look into the world of prosperity Joel Osteen lives in we return to Jason Byasses’s article Be happy The health and wealth gospel. Byasse brings out a very key point in relation to the way the WFM actually de-emphasizes the importance of God, while at the same time elevating the importance of man:

If God matters little for this worldview, Jesus matters even less. “If you’re always thinking positive, happy, joyful thoughts, you’re going to be a positive, happy, joyful person, and will attract other happy, upbeat, positive people.” If only Jesus could have heard Osteen’s message—things might have turned out much better! His preaching could have been brightened up considerably. And his friends wouldn’t have been the sorry bunch of losers he consistently attracted.

It’s striking how unnecessary God is to Osteen’s project. People can “enlarge their vision” and “choose to be happy” with nary a thought of God. “Understand this: God will help you, but you cast the deciding vote.” We have to be positive—only then will God bless us. Of course, since being positive itself gives those rewards, it’s unclear what God has to do in the scenario. Even when Osteen speaks of the seemingly most supernatural of events—the healing of his mother’s cancer—the accent is on her attitude rather than on divine activity.
(Online source)

The Lie That Transforms God and Man

In our next installment of this Osteen saga we’ll go a little deeper and talk further about how the WFM view of theology ends up reducing God to a big Man, while at the same time elevating man into a little god. We have just seen in Isaiah 14 who was it that said he was going to make himself like God. And now we know it was this very same malignant being who Eve in the Garden that man will become as God? The sad fact is that Satan has fooled men like Joel Osteen who are still falling for the oldest lie there is, and it is eternally tragic that the Devil is now using him to captivate thousands of others one arena at a time. But for now, Byassee brings out the crux of the matter when he says:

Osteen’s version of the gospel is full of “ifs.” If we enlarge our vision, if we choose to be happy, if we think thoughts and speak words of victory and blessing, if we give of ourselves abundantly—then God will bless us with everything we want. The conditional nature of these sentences is telling. This is not a gospel of grace, in which God acts in spite of our lack of faithfulness to redirect our wants. Instead this is a gospel of reward in which God does nothing until we get our act together. In traditional Christian theology,…we can do nothing in and of ourselves to merit God’s favor. Rather, God comes to us in Christ when we are without merit, without ability to please God and without reason to think we can be saved or helped. Such a view of grace is surely part of the grumpy theology Osteen seeks to upend—but it is central to Christianity.

It’s also striking how closely Osteen identifies wealth with divine blessing, to the point where he risks placing a Christian overlay on a pagan gospel of acquisition. In scripture, wealth is a much more mixed blessing, to say the least… For the prophets and for Jesus, especially in his Beatitudes, it is the poor who are truly blessed by God. The rich will be measured by standards of justice that demand care for the widowed and orphaned rather than for the ballooning of their own bank accounts. Not a few saints in the history of the church have heard Jesus’ words as an invitation to divest themselves entirely of their wealth.

And while no one is saying that to be prosperous in and of itself is wrong, to any but those who are blinded by the persona of Joel Osteen, it is beyond question that this man-pleaser knowingly, or unknowingly, is simply telling people what they want to hear. Osteen is undoubtedly a prosperity preacher in the classic sense of that term, and he is also a WFM teacher–albeit a kindler, gentler version–who is in the end only following in the fallacious footsteps of another well-known WFM teacher, his own father, the late John Osteen.