Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/
The Prosperity Doctrine


003white  Section 10A The Contemporary Church     Doctrines of Demons       >    Word of Faith     >     The Prosperity Doctrine IV


The Prosperity Doctrine
Part IV... Joel Osteen, The Blind Leading The Blind

Carol Brooks

    Index to All Sections

    Section I: Introduction and Origins
    Section II: The Whole Counsel of God
    Section III: Supposed Proof Texts. Rhema Vs. Logos
    You Are Here 001orange Section IV: Joel Osteen.. The Blind Leading The Blind
    Section V: General Principles, The Tele-Evangelists
    Section VI: In The Service of God OR Mammon, Covetousness and Greed, The Crown Without The Cross? What Happened to Prayer?, The Sovereignty of God
    Section VII: Conclusion



    Joel Osteen
    The Blind Leading The Blind
    Joel Osteen and Norman Vincent Peale...and Napoleon Hill/Ernest Holmes
    Osteen's version of Romans 4:17
    Osteen and Luke 1:20
    The "Creative Power of Words"
    Osteen and Proverbs 18:21
    Osteen and James 3:10
    Osteen and Romans 12:1-2
    Osteen, Katrina and his 10.5 Million Dollar Home


    The Blind Leading The Blind
    We were given only one sure guide by which to judge what is of God and what is not. By which to recognize whether the hands that beckon us are God-sent to save us, or are reaching out from the depths of hell to devour us. Yet we resolutely continue to ignore God's chosen guide book preferring instead to flock to one of the innumerable dog and pony shows, like the one Joel Osteen puts on.

    Hundreds of thousands continue to devour the bilge he puts out in his books ... all done in the name of God. After reading so many of his statements that flatly contradict the Word of God, I have to wonder what Bible this man reads, or whether he even reads one. Let me put it this way. I certainly do not expect any one person to be an authority on every sentence in the Bible, nor do I expect pastors/preachers to sail through life never making a mistake. What I do expect is, when major doctrine being taught to hundreds of thousand of people is based on verses from the Scripture, the teacher at least makes certain that the verses actually say what he claims they do.

    But let's start with an interesting 'coincidence'.

    Not only did Osteen attend Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but...

    Joel Osteen and Norman Vincent Peale.
    An October 21, 2005 article By Tatiana Morales on CBS News.com refers to an appearance Osteen made on The Early Show on which co-anchor Harry Smith ..."compared Osteen's preaching to Norman Vincent Peale's, and Osteen agreed".

      "It's amazing," Osteen said. "I was preaching two or three years when someone gave me one of his books. I was going to say, 'He thinks like me.' I think like him. It seems like it's the same base there. God is on our side and if you think right, I believe, like Norman Vincent Peale did, that your life follows your thoughts. You get up negative, oppressive, you're day will go that way."  [16]

    Now that is one thing Joel that you got right.. You do think like Peale...you and he are on the same page. And it is no wonder. Both your doctrines derive from exactly the same source and the "same base".

    As the author of the book of Ecclesiastes said.. "there is nothing new under the sun". Satan pulls down an old dusty heresy from off the shelf, gives it a spit shine, ties a red bow on top and hands it back to man with a flourish. And man? ... man just swallows it hook, line and sinker.

    So lets first take a look at the timeline.

    Joel Osteen succeeded his father as pastor of Lakewood Church on October 3, 1999. Prior to this he had apparently only preached once in his life... the week before his father's death.  [17]. Osteen says he had only been preaching for two or three years when some gave him a copy of one of Norman Vincent Peale's books, which would be around 2001 0r 2002. Osteen's first book, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, was released in October 2004, just two or three short years after he read Peale's book.

    Additionally, Osteen uses exactly the same words used by Norman Vincent Peale, who in turn got the expression from Napoleon Hill, who got the expression from his imaginary Council of seven men.

    Norman Vincent Peale and Napoleon Hill
    Not only does Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking, display an unmistakable resemblance to the philosophies of Napoleon Hill, but he even used one of Hill's hallmark expressions.. conceive and believe which was the in turn used by Osteen. The wording in all three of the books is identical

      "Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve." [Napoleon Hill and Clement W Stone. Think and Grow Rich]

      "What the mind can conceive and believe, and the heart desire, you can achieve." [Norman Vincent Peale. Positive Imaging: The Powerful Way to Change Your Life]

      "... the first step to living at your full potential is to enlarge your vision... you must start looking at life through eyes of faith, seeing yourself rising to new levels. See your business taking off. See your marriage restored. See your family prospering. See your dreams coming to pass. You must conceive it and believe it is possible if you ever hope to experience it. [Joel Osteen. our Best Life Now 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential]

     In fact Norman Vincent Peale once said

      'These two men have the rare gift of inspiring and helping people! In fact, I owe them a personal debt of gratitude for the helpful guidance I have received!' [18]

    Incidentally Peale, along with his wife Ruth, started Guideposts magazine (circulation 4.5 million) in 1945. He was also a Scottish Rite 33o Freemason...

    [See Comprehensive Article on Freemasonry and More About Norman Vincent Peale]

    [I Also Strongly Suggest You Read The Story of Napoleon Hill and The Council of Thirty-Three]

    But Hill was not the only influence on Peale's life.. ]

    Norman Vincent Peale and Ernest Holmes:
    Dr. Ernest Holmes, founder of the Religious Science movement, was a mentor to Peale. In confessing his indebtedness to Holmes, Peale wrote on the back cover of Ernest Holmes: His Life and Times

      "Only those who knew me as a boy can fully appreciate what Ernest Holmes did for me. Why, he made me a positive thinker."

    and on the back cover of Science of Mind, sometimes called one of the greatest New Thought books ever written

      ”I believe God was in this man, Ernest Holmes. He was in tune with the Infinite.”

    In turn, Holmes took his inspirations and information from a variety of sources including Quimby, Darwin, Emerson, Freud, and Mary Baker Eddy, but, according to his brother… when he read the essay Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson a spark leaped into flames. And where did Emerson get his inspiration from?

      When the "Bhagavad Gita" fell into his hands he experienced far greater pleasure than is known to the gold seeker, who suddenly after long and weary searching, comes upon a rich lode. The "Bhagavad Gita" appealed to Emerson with compelling power. In Emerson's writings the metaphysical thought of India, Greece, and modern transcendentalism were fused” [19]

    And there is more... a lot more. [See Roots of Evil]

    Osteen's version of Romans 4:17:

    A perfect example of a Biblical verse not even saying what Osteen claims it says is found in his book Become a Better You, He says [Emphasis Added]

      "The Scripture tells us that we are to "call the things that are not as if they already were." In other words, don't talk about the way you are; talk about the way you want to be. That's what faith is all about. In the physical realm, you have to see it to believe it, but God says you have to believe it, and then you'll see it". [20]

    The verse Joel is referring to is Romans 4:17 which says

      (as it is written, A father of many nations have I made thee) before him whom he believed, even God, who giveth life to the dead, and calleth the things that are not, as though they were. 

    Even the most cursory reading of this verse makes it very plain that it was God that spoke of something as having an existence, before it actually existed. In this case God told Abraham that He had made Abraham the father of many nations, which Abraham believed. God spoke of it as already done. The Scripture does NOT tell us that we are to "call the things that are not as if they already were", but says that God did.

    This is not even a case of believers having a genuine dispute as to how a particular verse is to be interpreted. This is a case of willfully or ignorantly mishandling the Word of Truth. If it is done wilfully, it would make Joel Osteen an evil man who twists the Scriptures to suit his own ideology. If it is done in ignorance it makes Joel Osteen a careless fool, who needs to go back to Sunday school.

    Either way, this is the man who's own web site says (as of January 2011) they reach "200 million homes all across America and over 100 nations". [21].

    Sadly, this is not the only sign of Joel Osteen's abysmal level of Biblical knowledge. Another example is found in his interpretation of

    Osteen and Luke 1:20.
    Osteen allots so much power to our words that they can even thwart God's plans, as nearly happened, he claims, at the angel's announcement of the birth of John the Baptist: [Emphasis Added]

      [Zacharias] was so surprised because he and his wife Elizabeth were well up there in years. He said to the angel, "Are you really sure this is going to happen? Do you see how old we are? I just don't think this could be possible.” … The angel went on to say "But, Zacharias, because you didn't believe, because you questioned God, you shall remain silent and not be able to speak until the baby is born.” … Well, why did God shut his mouth?… He knew Zacharias would go out and start talking to his friends. "Well, they said we're gonna have a baby, but they must have gotten the wrong person. Man, we're way too old!” See, God knows the power of our words. He knows we prophesy our future, and He knew Zacharias' own negative words would stop His plan. [21b]

    Once more, Osteen is so busy imposing his own ideas onto the text, that he has completely disregarded the fact that the text, without any ambiguity whatsoever, tells us why this happened to Zacharias. The angel told Zacharias that he would "be silent and not able to speak", because he did not believe his words. The temporary loss of speech was judgment for Zacharias not giving credit to what the angel had said, and was probably also a sign that he was sent of God.

    The "Creative Power of Words"
    In his book Become a Better You Osteen says

      "One of the best ways that we can improve our self-image is with our words. Words are like seeds. They have creative power. It says in Isaiah that 'We will eat the fruit of our words.' That's amazing when you stop to consider that truth: Our words tend to produce what we're saying. Every day we should make positive declarations over our lives. We should say things such as, 'I am blessed. I am prosperous. I am healthy. I am talented. I am creative. I am wise.' When we do that, we are building up our self-image. As those words permeate your heart and mind, and especially your subconscious mind, eventually they will begin to change the way you see yourself. The Scripture says 'With our tongue, we can either bless our life or we can curse our life.' (Osteen is referring to James 3:10) Some individuals curse their own future by saying things such as 'I don't have what it takes. I'm so clumsy I can't get anything right. I'm so undisciplined. I'll probably never lose this weight.' We must be extremely careful what we allow out of our mouth. Our words set the direction for our lives." [22]

    If Isaiah said "we will eat the fruit of our words", I would like to know where he said it. I did a search on the phrase, then on the individual words eat, fruit and words. The closest I came to Osteen's claim are the self explanatory words in Isaiah 3:10-11 

      Say ye of the righteous, that it shall be well with him; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him; for what his hands have done shall be done unto him.

    However Proverbs 18:21, a commonly quoted verse by the Word-Faith camp does say "Death and life are in the power of the tongue; And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof".

    Osteen and Proverbs 18:21
    Of this verse Osteen says

      “If you're in a storm today, now more than ever you need to guard what you say and not allow any negative, destructive words to come out of your mouth. Scripture says, ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue; and you will eat the fruit thereof.’ (Proverbs 18:21) In other words, you create an environment for either good or evil with your words, and you are going to have to live in that world you've created. If you're always murmuring, complaining, and talking about how bad life is treating you, you're going to live in a pretty miserable, depressing world. You may be tempted to merely use your words to describe negative situations, but God wants us to use our words to change our negative situations. Don't talk about the problem, talk about the solution.” [23]

    The problem is that the Hebrew word in Proverbs 18:21 (maveth) translated death, literally means death as in stone cold corpse, and has been used that way over 150 times in the Old Testament. Death cannot be interpreted, as Osteen implies, to mean "a pretty miserable, depressing world". And the verse as a whole can not be interpreted to mean "you need to guard what you say" because your words create an environment of good or evil.

    On the contrary Proverbs 18:21 says nothing different from what James said above, nor from what Jesus said in Matthew 12:35-37... judgment at the last day will be according to a man's words...

      The good man out of his good treasure bringeth forth good things: and the evil man out of his evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. And I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. [Matthew 12:35-37] 

    As a tree is known by it's fruit, the heart is known by the words that proceed out of the mouth. True, proper, chaste, instructive words indicate the heart is right while false, envious, malignant, and impious words indicate the heart is wrong. which is why the Bible teaches that eternity can depends on a person's words and life and death are in the power of the tongue.

      Also note that some commentators have added that people like judges and false witnesses can, by their tongues, sentence someone to death, and preachers can do likewise.. they can cause someone to live for eternity by preaching the Word of God, but they can also sentence someone to death by preaching a wrong gospel. 

    Osteen and James 3:10
    The next Bible verse that Osteen refers to is James 3:10 of which he says "With our tongue, we can either bless our life or we can curse our life". [24]

    But this is nowhere near the words nor intent of the verse which says

      out of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. [James 3:10] 

    This letter that James wrote to the twelve tribes of the Dispersion [1:1] was not written to establish doctrine, or defend the faith. Since Christ is only mentioned twice and the Holy Spirit not at all, we can safely infer that it was written to believers who were assumed to already be familiar with the basics of the faith.

    The book of James is straight talk on the practical side of being a Christian. Remember it was James who said that he showed his faith by his works, and asked "What good is was if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?" [2:14]. He was encouraging these early Christians to live what they said they believed, since anyone can claim to be a Christian. Or as many today would express it ... walk the walk rather than just talk the talk.

    It is well to remember that the third chapter of James begins with a warning to aspiring teachers (verses that Joel Osteen, among many others, have not taken seriously enough). James warns that although the tongue is a small thing, it can do enormous damage. Although his warning is amplified when it comes to teachers and the immeasurable influence they often have, it applies to every single believer. James is making the point that our speech is an indicator of the condition of our heart and when there is inconsistent speech, when blessings and curses come out of the same mouth .. something is wrong. Rumors, gossip and untruths can literally destroy a person's life. Cruel unchristian words can create wounds that take forever to heal... if they do at all. An unchecked tongue is not conduct befitting a Christian.

    This verse has absolutely NOTHING to do with being able to bless or lives or curse our lives, as Osteen claims. Read the entire chapter for yourself.

    Osteen and Romans 12:1-2
    Osteen is also not above using half a verse to make his point, ignoring the other half which completely contradicts his pre-conceived ideas and shallow deductions. In Your Best Life Now, he writes

      “What are you doing? You are reprogramming your mind... Learn to dwell upon the good, reprogram your thinking. The Bible tells us that we need to be ‘transformed by the renewing of our mind.’ If you will transform your mind, God will transform your life... Our thoughts contain tremendous power.” [25]

    Osteen is referring to Romans 12:1-2 which says

      Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your reasonable service (or worship). Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will.

    Paul's use of the word “brethren,” indicates that he is addressing Christians who have come to faith in Jesus Christ. He has, in the first eleven chapters (the doctrinal part of Romans), built a detailed defense of God's plan of salvation and how exactly it includes both Jew and Gentile.

    Chapter 12 opens with the word "therefore" which indicates that what Paul is about to say is based on the foundation already laid in chapters 1-11. His exhortation in verses 1 and 2 is a call or plea to the Roman believers to follow a particular course of action based on all he has already taught them. Paul’s emphasis is on how these new Christians should live in response to what God has done for them, and he shows vital concern that these believers make the right choice, which is to be shaped and influenced by God and not by the world. 

    What Osteen seems to have 'missed' is that Paul tells these new Christians

      not to conform to the pattern of the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. (The Greek word for “be transformed” is metamorphoõ the source of the English metamorphosis, usually associated with the change a caterpillar makes into a butterfly).

    Isn't the pattern of the entire world to want to be "successful", to be wealthy?

    Instead Paul urges believers to actively choose to do what is reasonable, which is to present or offer their bodies as a living sacrifice... a metaphor taken from the Old Testament sacrifices offered on the altar which, from then on, belonged to God. Paul earlier used the same word translated present in chapter 6 where he contrasts the two options believers have.. they can either present themselves to sin, or they can present themselves to God and make themselves available to Him.

      neither present your members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. [Romans 6:13]

    Note: The words reasonable service have been rendered spiritual service or spiritual worship in most translations. But the word used is logikos which means rational or logical.

    Osteen's 10.5 million Dollar Home
    By the way... much is made of the fact that Joel Osteen's church gave a million dollars to the victims of Hurricane Katrina and one can certainly appreciate him doing so. However with an average weekly attendance of some 43,500 people, his church's annual budget is $70 million [26].

    According to an article in the Houston Press, public records show Joel and Victoria Osteen's home in Tanglewood is worth more than $1 million dollars. [27]. However that was in 2002. While still holding on to the house in Tanglewood, which has been "valued at $2.9 million", the Osteens have upgraded.

    A July 2010 article in Houston's Daily Digital Magazine, CultureMap, says Joel and Victoria Osteen [Emphasis Added]Osteens_home

      "...and their children moved to a 17,000-square-foot stone mansion in the Tall Timbers subdivision in River Oaks. The Osteens' new home is situated on 1.86 acres and surrounded by an ornamental fence. The 411: It has six bedrooms, six bathrooms, three elevators and five wood-burning fireplaces, with a one-bedroom guest house and pool house. The Harris County Appraisal District valued it at $10.5 million.

      The Tanglewood house is owned by Joel and Victoria Osteen according to Harris County Appraisal District records. The River Oaks home is technically owned by the Covenant Trust, which means the Osteens do not qualify for a homestead exemption on it. They will pay around $260,000 in property taxes on the new home this year. [28]

      The photograph above is a screen shot of the photograph of Osteen’s home on the CultureMap site.

    Culture map adds that Osteen hasn't drawn a salary from the church since 2005. His "income comes from best-selling books and related products, such as calendars, daybooks and inspirational pamphlets". [28]

    In other words he got very rich peddling concepts from the occult world.

    Note that the taxes on Osteen's "mansion" for one year is, depending on the area of the country, about the total cost of most people's homes. But what the heck.. he will come out with one more idiotic, dangerous, Biblically unsound book which will be bought by hundreds of thousands... that ought to take care of those taxes.

    But, we digress. Lets continue on to the third part of this refutation and see whether the Scriptures agree with or refute the general principles behind the beliefs and teachings of the Prosperity Doctrine camp...

    Part V... General Principles Behind The Prosperity Doctrine, Prosperity and The Tele-Evangelists.


    End Notes
    [16] Osteen: God Is On Your Side...

    [17] Jennifer Mathieu. Power House. Apr 4 2002. Houston Press

    [18] http://www.amazon.com/Success-Through-Positive-Mental-Attitude/dp/0671743228

    [19] A short biographical sketch of Ralph Waldo Emerson, by Joel Porte. ralphwaldoemerson.wwwhubs.com

    [20] Joel Osteen. Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day. Free Press; (2009) paperback. Page 112

    [21] Our Ministry. http://www.joelosteen.com/About/Pages/OurMinistry.aspx

    [21b] Joel Osteen, Discover the Champion in You, TBN, May 3, 2004. As quoted by Bob Hunter in Christianity Still in Crisis? A Word of Faith Update. http://www.equip.org/articles/christianity-still-in-crisis- ("Discover the Champion in You!’ is the name of Joel Osteen's program broadcast each week on TBN... the Trinity Broadcasting Network)

    [22] Joel Osteen. : 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day. Free Press; (2009) paperback. Pgs 109-110

    [23] Joel Osteen. Your Best Life Now. 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential. Pg. 124. FaithWords (August 20, 2007)

    [24] Joel Osteen Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day. Page 110. Simon and Schuster, 2007

    [25] Joel Osteen. Your Best Life Now. 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential. Pgs. 108, 109. FaithWords (August 20, 2007)

    [26] America's 10 Biggest Megachurches.

    [27] Jennifer Mathieu. Power House. Apr 4 2002. Houston Press

    [28] Clifford Pugh. July 2010. After move to $10.5 million River Oaks mansion, Joel Osteen offers Tanglewood land for $1.1 million.


    Index To The Prosperity Doctrine ..
    Does God Want Us To Be Rich?