Oprah Winfrey sat down with Joel Osteen in an interview that she has now aired on her OWN network – Oprah’s Next Chapter. After Oprah attended a service at Lakewood and heard Joel preach, they went back to his home where the interview was recorded. The interview was “more of the same” with Joel. With 16,000 people in attendance, you would hope that a man who is supposed to speak for God would stand and proclaim the gospel. Tragically – the only gospel that is being preached at Lakewood is a twisted health, wealth, and prosperity message that uses the name of Jesus. In fact, what Joel Osteen said to Oprah about his view of homosexuality is proof that he is preaching a false gospel.
Osteen Denies The Exclusivity of Christ – Again
At one point in the interview, Oprah asked Osteen about sin. She started by asking, “How would you explain God to an unbeliever?” Osteen responded by saying, “I would explain God as the Creator, a heavenly Father, of someone who wants to be in relationship with you, just as someone who is for you – as a friend.” Oprah then moved to her point by asking, “Ok, here’s the big question. Are there many paths to get to the one God?” Osteen responded, “Well, I believe Oprah that there, I believe that Jesus is the way to the one God, but there are many paths to Jesus. You know, you don’t know how Jesus would reveal himself to somebody.”
Osteen Misunderstands the Power of the Gospel – Again
Oprah then continued to move toward the sin of homosexuality. By now, Osteen is expecting to be asked this hotly debated question. So, as expected, Oprah unveils it by asking, “I can’t imagine that you would have 16,000 people in there and none of them would be gay. So, are gay people also included?” Osteen responds, “Absolutely, anybody is.” Before he could articulate this answer – Oprah cut him off and asked a more pointed question that really draws the line in the sand. She asked, “Will gay people be accepted into heaven – as you see it?” Osteen said, “Well, I believe they will, because I believe you know that we have to have forgiveness for our sins, but sometimes we look at being gay as a bigger sin than being proud, or…not telling the truth. I don’t think God categorizes sins.”
Why Criticize Joel Osteen – Again?
Those who read this blog know that I have openly criticized Joel Osteen for years. This is due to his flawed answers about big things that are clearly revealed in the Scripture. What is the big deal about Osteen’s answers? The big deal centers squarely upon the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is true that a pastor doesn’t need a seminary education to be able to preach the gospel, but it is required of a pastor to know the gospel. Over the years, Joel Osteen has proven time and again that his understanding of the gospel is skewed – at best.
In his interview with Oprah, he missed it on the exclusivity of Christ – again! The Bible is clear about the fact that there is only one way to God and it is through the God-man – Jesus. Jesus made the clearest statement possible on this subject when He said in John 14:6 – “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” When Osteen says, “There are many paths to Jesus” – what does he mean by this statement? When he talks about not knowing how Jesus will reveal Himself to people – we must stop him squarely in his tracks and point to the Scripture. God has chosen to reveal the truth of His Son in the pages of Scripture. The sufficiency of Scripture is enough and we must continue to proclaim the gospel from the pages of Scripture. If Osteen is meaning that people who worship a false god in India are worshipping the “Jesus” of their culture – he is totally wrong! The gospel transcends culture, race, socioeconomic and geographic boundaries. There is only one Jesus and we must see Him as revealed in the pages of God’s Word.
As expected, Oprah asked Osteen about homosexuality. Osteen’s answer proves he misunderstands the power of the gospel. He said that he believes that gay people will be welcomed into heaven. He compared homosexuality to the sin of pride and telling lies. I do think Osteen is correct about the response of the church to the homosexual community. We are much more likely to reach out to our neighbor who is wrapped up in a web adulterous lies than we are our homosexual neighbor. However, that doesn’t change the perspective of God toward sin. He remains unchanged – immutable. God is never changed by culture, advancement in time, technology, or social acceptance. Therefore, the truth of God’s hatred toward homosexuality is the same today as it was with Sodom in the days of the Old Testament.
Osteen misunderstands the power of the gospel to change people. I have personally witnessed the gospel change liars and proud sinners into humble truth tellers. I have also witnessed the gospel change an open homosexual into a man of God who now has a wife and lives his life for Christ. Osteen paints a faulty picture of God that makes Him this loving grandfather-type who is willing to overlook any fault we may have in life. If that is true – will anybody go to hell? Will anybody suffer under God’s wrath and holy justice? Rather than proclaiming the truth about God’s sovereign ability to resurrect our sinful souls (that have died in the sins of our flesh) to a new life in Christ – he comes very near a universalism approach that misses the power of the gospel. The gospel changed the woman at the well into a new woman (John 4). The gospel changed Saul – a murderer – into a new man on the Damascus road (Acts 9). The gospel has the power to resurrect dead souls to life and produce change (Ephesians 2; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus changes people. That’s the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16).
As a pastor, I don’t get a thrill out of calling out other pastors on television or in our local community. However, when a man who is given the charge to speak for God misses the gospel and leads people down a path of false hope that trusts in the power of our flesh rather than the power of God – someone must point it out. It is still my prayer that God will open Osteen’s eyes so that he may see the truth.
I’m thankful that Jesus has changed my life – a self-righteous religious man – into a man who has been forgiven through the blood of King Jesus!
Pastor Josh Buice