In a recent interview with the Christian Post, Joel Osteen was asked if he considered himself to be “a preacher of the prosperity gospel.” This question was followed up with the inquiry, “Is it [the prosperity gospel] heresy?” While he did not directly address the second question, Osteen responded in part with the following:
You know, I don’t consider myself a … I don’t really know what the prosperity gospel is. The way I define it is that I believe God wants you to prosper in your health, in your family, in your relationships, in your business, and in your career. So I do … if that is the prosperity gospel, then I do believe that.
I don’t believe we are supposed to go through life defeated and not having enough money to pay our bills or send our kids to college. So you know, when I hear some of that, I think that is not who I am, he doesn’t know me or what I teach. Because he is saying God doesn’t believe that… there is no demand, I don’t think I’d put it like that but I always talk about God rewards obedience. When you follow His way, the Bible says that His blessings will chase you down and overtake you.
It seems, then, that Osteen not only has offered a correct basic definition of the prosperity gospel, but he also has admitted his adherence to it. This also reveals his misunderstanding of the basic truths of the true biblical gospel. Scripture does not promise Christians a life of earthly prosperity, but rather promises trial and tribulation in this life from a world that hates the truth. The Christian’s great inheritance and blessings, while bestowed upon conversion, are not of a material nature, but of an eternal one, and will be received in full upon the welcoming of each believer into eternity.
Osteen, who on the evening of 29 April filled Nationals Park baseball stadium for his “Night of Hope” event, appears to be misguided on other doctrines and definitions as well. Last week, while appearing on CNN’s Situation Room, Osteen declared that he believed Mormons to be Christians. CNN reporter Ashley Lillough reported on the event:
While Osteen described the Mormon faith as “not traditional Christianity,” he said he believes Mormons fall under the Christian tent.
“Mormonism is a little different, but I still see them as brothers in Christ,” the pastor argued.
This particular assertion of Osteen’s seems to indicate that he is unaware of what Mormonism actually teaches. Of course, many have pointed out that the Jesus of Mormonism is not the Jesus of the Bible. Perhaps one of the best summations of this is from Dr. Walter Martin:
The Savior of Mormonism, however, is an entirely different person, as their official publications clearly reveal. The Mormon “Savior” is not the second person of the Christian Trinity… Mormons reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, and he is not even a careful replica of the New Testament Redeemer.
In Mormon theology, Christ as a preexistent spirit was not only the spirit brother of the devil (as alluded to in The Pearl of Great Price, Moses 4:1-4, and later reaffirmed by Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses, 13:282), but celebrated his own marriage to “Mary and Martha, and the other Mary,” at Cana of Galilee, “whereby he could see his seed, before he was crucified” (Apostle Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, 4:259; 2:82)…[and] the Mormon concept of the Virgin Birth alone distinguishes their “Christ” from the Christ of the Bible.
Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, Ravi Zacharias, Gen. Ed. (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2005), 252.
If Joel Osteen is confused over who Jesus really is, then perhaps it is not all that surprising that he also would affirm the prosperity gospel as true.