Joel Osteen: Taking the Christ Out of Christianity

Full disclosure: I have strong feelings about Joel Osteen. For years, I’ve kept pretty quiet, as I don’t want to discourage the countless people I know for whom the Osteen empire is their only source of spiritual food. It’s milk, not meat … but at least it’s something—or, that has been my thinking.

The other side of me, however—also known as “Susan, you’re turning into your mother”—feels the need to expose a recent trend I’ve noticed that should trouble anyone who calls themselves a “Christ follower” (a distinction that I’ve grown to love, as I care less and less these days about the various branches and denominations of Christianity).

Before I continue, and lest you call me a legalist … here’s my three-point Christ follower litmus test:

* Do you love Jesus and acknowledge you are nothing apart from His amazing grace? — Great.

* Do you desire to follow Him according to His word? — Awesome.

* Do you share Him with others? — Perfect.

… that’s really all I need. It’s just about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus.

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve seldom heard Osteen really discuss Jesus. I know he has, but I (for my own amusement and occasional pep talk) follow him on Facebook and Twitter, and couldn’t recall ever seeing a Christ-centric post.

I had to investigate. I went back through every post for 12 months on both Facebook and Twitter—I know, ugh—and sure enough … no Jesus.

Now, in the interest of fairness, I searched the sites of other Christian leaders I follow. Perhaps this was just a fluke? Maybe I’m conjuring up a controversy where there should be none. Clearly I’m not objective on this matter, so I did my homework.

My findings? Pretty telling.

Below is a list of Facebook accounts, along with how far back I had to go in these folks’ timelines to find the name “Jesus.”

Tony Evans: 8 hours
Joyce Meyer: 11 hours
Alistair Begg: 1 day
Chuck Swindoll: 4 days
Kay Arthur: 4 days
Timothy Keller: 6 days
Rick Warren: 30 days
Joel Osteen: 369 days (*There is, however, a recent post about the Son of God movie.)
Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 9.57.20 PM

I must say Osteen’s timeline wasn’t void of references to God. There are plenty. There is also an alarming abundance of the word “you” (or variations such as “you’re, and “you’ll)—32 on his Twitter timeline in the past week. And, despite the suspicious absence of our Lord and Savior … my experience wasn’t completely for naught. I can honestly say that, having strolled through 369 days of Osteen posts, I feel happier, prettier, more successful—heck, I might just Breakout!

Do what you will with this, folks. I’m just reporting what I found. And, honestly? I would appreciate your feedback. Does this bother you like it does me? Am I splitting hairs?

Talk to me.

(Please don’t hold your breath for the Holy Spirit post; there aren’t enough hours in the day.)

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” — Acts 4:12


12 thoughts on “Joel Osteen: Taking the Christ Out of Christianity

  1. Edward Braddock says:

    Good morning , M’Lady , Miss Susan ! OK , at the moment , it is 2240 hours , so technicaly , it is evening/night, but I hope you will not see this untill morning . For myself , I am what I call a ” generic Christian” ( they are ALL my Father’s houses ) and I do my best to represent Christ in my life , knowing that I fail Him SO often . I wear a ring with a cross on it , turned towards me . I wear this ring less to identify myself as a Christian to others , but to remind mysefl of who I follow and what I have to live up to. As for Joel and his failure to mention Jesus , in his : Christian ministry” that is disturbing. What I believe they are offering is an Oprah like feel good session , leaving a person feeling “uplifted ” and ” better ” but lacking in a deepening of the relationship with Christ or growth in knowledge of Him or and increased connection to Him, but having ALL of these to Joel. Just my perception.

  2. Love it…We are on the same page. About a week ago I deleted all the facebook likes for Joel, Warren and Meyer. I realized that if I need a pep talk then I should be relying on God not them. We have entered churches that preach, but yet it is all about the you, and the blessings and the larger church, how much you can give to growing the church and on and on. Why are people leaving churches? Kiss everyones butt as long as you want, but those that believe will realize eventually that they need God in order to be fulfilled and nothing else. Im not sure milk is the way to salvation and true change. But, it does afford some very nice “modest” homes for the leaders!! Thank you for always being true and you!

    • Edward Braddock says:

      Yes , Brandy , after they have made you feel bettter about yourself – prettier , smarter , morally superior, etc. – and emphasised your connection with their church , it is easier to get your money for their ( not always God’s ) church – and them ! They do REAL good , by “doing good”.

  3. alxandro says:

    Can’t remember the name but there was a comedian from the 80’s that asked the very important question, “Why doesn’t the devil ever ask for money?”

  4. Tim Kenney says:

    Years ago, a very good pastor told me to judge everything ‘spiritual’ by the Word of God. This pastor even included his own sermons in that advice.

    Yes, we must love Jesus, follow Jesus, and proclaim Jesus. But, just as Jesus taught, doctrine matters. How we follow Jesus, how we proclaim Him, and how we reveal Him to others matters.

    People such as those mentioned might be true Christians but that is above my spiritual paygrade. But what I see and hear proclaimed lead me back to my ‘fundamental and legalistic’ Bible.

  5. Jesus seems to have become a uncomfortable or almost taboo word to some. It seems like rather than getting to the heart of the matter, the lack of Jesus in lives it is better to build self esteem and increase numbers. It would be very un-Christ like to offend people. So It is best to leave out Christ and bring up “comfortable” topics. Jesus challenges us to follow Him boldly and He even says they path is not easy. I want some protein to make it through the path not just milk.

  6. Great post, Susan. I not only don’t follow Joel, Warren, and Meyer, I hide posts my friends share from those folks. They drive me crazy. Joel specially is an evangelist without a gosple.

  7. We are so in agreement about Joel Osteen, or Dr Feelgood, as I think of him as…
    Of course, as a Roman Catholic, I think all of those people in his “stadium” should be Catholic! They don’t know what they are missing!

  8. Sonya says:

    Yes. We notice this, too. Interesting too is how Hollywood, if it makes a concession at all, only mentions God, never Jesus, unless it’s from a “crazy Bible-thumping” character you are expected to make fun of.

  9. Interesting. I’m not at all impressed with Osteen, But as a Baptist pastor I decided to check my tweets. 30 days since my last mention of Jesus’ name. In the last 24 hrs I did mention God, scripture, salvation etc. Hmmmm, wondering what that says about me.

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