Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Osteen: Antichrist?

So, yesterday, as nicely as possible, I made the statement to a friend that Joel Osteen is antichrist. Why did I say such a thing?

I admit that I partly did so just to be provocative, but that is not to say that I was guilty of provocation without a point. It was not intended as mere insult; it was a statement that I believe I can demonstrate to be true. And, I wish for others to think seriously about this claim.

Before going further, I should emphasize that I did not say that Mr. Osteen was "the" antichrist. In Scripture, the antichrist is the person who appears near the end of the age who personifies all that is opposed to God. That is what gets talked about in much popular Christian teaching. However, the Bible also talks about a spirit or principle of antichrist that presents itself throughout the time between the first and second coming of Christ and that culminates in the ultimate antichrist just mentioned. Thus, I John 4:3 says that "the spirit of the antichrist ... is in the world already." In other words, when the antichrist appears, he will be the culmination of something that has been around throughout this age. It is this more general principle of antichrist that I apply to the ministry of Joel Osteen. Even so, I can imagine that I would be challenged to defend the notion that a popular minister is antichrist.

To answer that challenge, it is important to understand what antichrist (either the principle or the ultimate personification) does. While there are many facets of his work, one area of focus involves an impact on the visible church. I John 4:1-3 associates antichrist with the refusal to make certain confessions about Jesus Christ. II Thessalonians 2 has this "man of lawlessness" taking his seat in the church, soliciting worship of himself, and causing a rebellion (or "apostacy," in the Greek). Thus, antichrist is one who, operating within the church, turns worshippers away from our Lord and Savior.

This is what Joel Osteen does. Establishing himself as a sort of minister in a church, he teaches an odd religion that is not Christianity. That is to say, Mr. Osteen does not offer a version of Christianity that differs from my own. Rather, he teaches an entirely different religion. Let me explain.

While Christianity talks about a great many things, at its foundation, it is a religion that concerns itself with what God does about our sins. Put another way, Christainity can be summed up in three words: God saves sinners. That is to say, God, out of his magnificant grace, has found a people among the ruins of human depravity and by the death and resurrection of his son, has forgiven them and adopted them as his own children, providing to them a glorious future as fellow heirs with Christ. That is what it is all about.

Yet, Mr. Osteen openly avows that he doesn't talk about sin, which he considers too negative. While that sounds kind, it means that his followers are deprived of the great gifts that God offers in Christ. To borrow C.S. Lewis' analogy, he ofers mudpies in street puddles to those who do not know that they could instead enjoy a vacation at the sea. He offers a best life now, ignoring the offer of eternal life in Christ Jesus.

This is not to say that Mr. Osteen should engage in finger pointing denunciations of sinners, but with no doctrine of sin, there are no sinners who need to be saved, and there is no need of a Savior. Mr. Osteen's religion guts the hope offered in Christianity.

It does not help Mr. Osteen's case that he uses some Christian terminology, because he redefines those terms to mean things other than what Christians believe. To illustrate, let me ask the question: who is Harry Monroe? In the movie Stir Crazy, Richard Pryor portrayed a character named Harry Monroe. My father's name is Harry Monroe. A former Catholic priest accused of committing serious crimes in the 1970's was named Harry Monroe. The director of a rescue mission in Chicago many years ago was named Harry Monroe. An on-air personality at Voice of America also shares this name. None of those people are me, and other than my dad, none are related to me. To use my name is not necessarily to make reference to me, and to use Christian terms is not necessarily the same thing as teaching Christianity.

What then does Mr. Osteen teach? Largely, it is the worship of self. Mr. Osteen is often said to be a more smooth talking version of the old name it and claim it religion, but actually he goes much further. In the Bible, it is only God who has the power of ex nihilo creation -- the power to speak, and something is created out of nothing. Misquoting and misapplying various verses, Mr. Osteen asserts this as a power of his followers. In so doing, he echoes the voice of the serpent in the garden of Eden, offering to human beings the claim to be like God. This is nothing short of blasphemy, idolatry, and self-worship.

If the spirit of antichrist entails an effort at supplanting Christianity within the churches in favor of worship of an alternative deity, then Mr. Osteen meets that definition. With that, I rest my case.


Robert Darcy said...


Anonymous said...

This is very well put, better than I could express myself. Thank you for this post.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! Now I know I'm not crazy or alone.

Anonymous said...

If you said to me he was the Antichrist, I would listen. Beware. He's a delusion.

Unknown said...

I would look at Osteen as the early persona of anti christos. His smooth charm and lovable nature has fooled too many. Now imagine if he could preform miracles! Now you have a good picture of just how persuasive the anti could be. However it is more than unlikely Joel will be the actual man of sin but I must point out pastor Charles Lawson (great great great preacher...YouTube him please body of christ) He has suggested that America could be the white that rides the beast so..... just saying..... either way stay far from this man's teaching we want teaching of his kind to be foriegn and shocking to our system.
Ps "read the bible everyday method til your eyes bleed.