By now most have learned that smiling prosperity preacher Joel Osteen became the target of an elaborate internet hoax in recent days. Christian News Network offers details:
The yet unidentified entity behind the hoax appears to have set up a Blogger account, run by Google, within the past few days. While the URL of the blog uses the name “Christianity News Texas,” the “about me” section of the site falsely utilizes the logo and identity of Christian News Network in an attempt to legitimize the fabricated news story. Source
The articles posted on this website claimed that Osteen had renounced his ‘Christian’ faith and was resigning from Lakewood Church. The first of these articles, which was written to appear as though it originated from CNN (Ted Turner’s Cable News Network), “alleged that Osteen stated that God was a ‘fictional character’ and that he would rather focus on ‘immediate issues,’ such as the environment.”
Christian News Network’s report continues:
The hoax also included a video presentation in which news headlines from sites like CNN, CBN, Yahoo! News and the Drudge Report were manipulated to appear as if they had all released stories on the matter.
Furthermore, the perpetrator created a fake website for Osteen, and made it to appear similar to Osteen’s official site. However, the individual spelled Osteen’s last name incorrectly as “Osten” in the URL and on the site, sending signs that the matter was a hoax. The website was linked in the fabricated article as if to serve as “proof” of the news.
A WordPress blog was also set up under the guise of being the official property of Osteen, as well as a Twitter account. One visitor who had expressed their suspicions about the fake Twitter account received a response from the individual who posed as Osteen.
“Nothing fake here,” the reply stated. “The church controls almost all the accts in my name. They’ve cut off and seized my accts. They’re panicking.”
The article goes on to note that, as of Monday, the fake WordPress site and the counterfeit Twitter account were suspended. To identify the person responsible for this intricate hoax, the IP address of the user and the credit card used to purchase the domain for the forged website are being sought.
Regardless of one’s opinion of the famous Osteen and his aberrant theology, it still is extremely unfortunate that one person would target another as the victim of such a scam. At the same time, a bit of irony exists in this story. Stand Up for the Truth observes that “there are two hoax crimes that have been committed here”:
Amidst the outrage you must be feeling toward this person, he or she appears to have been quite correct in several statements in your now-famous fake quote:
“I have been accused of altering the ‘message’ to fit my own doctrine and dogma. Others have accused me of preaching ‘feel good Christianity’. I have also been accused of profiting greatly from my ministry, with my books and television deals.”
Pastor, it seems to the world that you have done all of those things. In fact the “jesus” that you preach and write about isn’t the real Jesus of the Bible at all. Just a genie-jesus whom we can control with our spoken words, as though he is just waiting to bless us richly if we would only make the right and positive proclamations.
Indeed. Osteen, now himself a victim of elaborate deception, has been deceiving millions throughout the duration of his ministry. He has done so by preaching a false Jesus, one who does not exist in the Bible. It has been demonstrated time and again that Joel Osteen preaches a false gospel, one that sounds lovely for this fleeting life, but does not lead to eternal life. Rather, it leads its victims to eternal damnation under the wrath of a righteous and holy God. Per the Word of this God, Osteen is to be accursed:
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. Gal. 1:8–9
And so, though Osteen says that he is “not angry” about this scheme perpetrated against him, perhaps these events should be grasped by the ear-tickling preacher as an opportunity to reflect and repent. The open letter written by Stand Up for the Truth says it well:
So my question to you about the hoaxer is this: Inasmuch as this criminal has made up a fake “Joel Osteen” at a great harm to you and your family, haven’t you been doing the same thing to our Lord Jesus and His family? In making up a fake Jesus, haven’t you greatly and eternally harmed those who would follow this false creation of yours?
And finally, have you considered that the real Jesus might actually be outraged enough to bring you to justice?
Please consider repenting, pastor. And if your repentance results in you resigning your position for real and apologizing to those who’ve been deceived by you, it would go a long way toward healing and restoration.
Repent, Joel Osteen. Turn to the true Christ. Only then will you come to know the boundless and genuine spiritual blessings that are found in Him (Eph. 1:3–14), and they are far lovelier than those which you promise to the gullible masses.