Matt left a message in my guestbook about what I said about Joel Osteen and his new book, but without leaving any contact information, so I'll respond in my blog. "You are completely WRONG."
Well, not completely. I still am disturbed that this book (and many others, such as TD Jakes' new book) is a bestseller before anyone has actually been able to read it. For some books, like cookbooks or how-to books, this wouldn't be an issue; but for a book that will be spiritual guidance to millions of people, the issue is that millions have placed their blind trust in Osteen without giving anyone a chance to read the book and reflect upon its contents. Whether the book contains orthodox Christianity or is merely the first book warmed over, the point is no one knows because no one has read a word of it.
I do have a lot of sympathy for Matt's view, because I used to think the same way. Matt says Osteen is "doing something right, as he is encouraging mainstream people...to come to God and put him first place in their life. I give credit to people who are trying to make a difference." Not too long ago (but before Osteen was around), I used to think exactly the same way: High-profile evangelists on television and the radio had to be doing some good, even if they weren't completely orthodox and there were some questions about the way they operated. Surely, the good they were doing in spreading the message of Christianity outweighed the bad aspects? After many years of study, I've come to the conclusion that I was wrong, and my desire to find some good in these preachers blinded me to the truth about them.
Osteen is not Christian, and I think that is the key point. He is a Word of Faith believer, and they're not Christians. You can trace Word of Faith back to Parkhurst Quimby, and the various mind-over-matter beliefs that came onto the scene in the late 19th century. I won't get into it here, but if you want to know more, you can trace "Park" Quimby's beliefs along the thread that runs through (among many others) Christian science, positive thinking, possibility thinking, E.W. Kenyon, Kenneth E. Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, etc. I even see this teaching in Paramahansa Yogananda! The mind-over-matter teachings that say how you think, or speak, controls reality are like a lamprey that has sunk its teeth into Christianity and is sucking the life out of it. These beliefs are not Christian. They're obscuring the true gospel message. Nothing good has ever come of this movement, and nothing ever will. Someone could easily write a book about how the Word of Faith movement has worked its way into Christianity and is destroying it from within. Osteen is teaching something that isn't Christian. He has a weak, toothless "salvation message" for a few seconds at the end of his program, but his program, worldwide meetings, and books are discussing something that isn't Christian. He's teaching Word of Faith, a man-centered religion.
Some believers do get called out, and that's good news. Every time I hear a true gospel sermon, I am thankful that God called me out of the Word of Faith world into the world of the gospel. The Holy Spirit can use any means to call a sinner and work the will of God. Look at how Cyrus, Darius, Nebuchadnezzar, Pilate, and others were used by God to further the plan of salvation. So I'm glad that's happening even today. I found Sermon Audio because I was researching the Word of Faith movement and trying to figure it out. (The first sermon I ever listened to here was Ian Brown's sermon on Benny Hinn.)