Discernment, False Teachers

Joel & Victoria Osteen

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

This article is what I call a “clearinghouse article”. It is a collection of articles written by others on the teacher, ministry, or unbiblical trend named below. Either I have not had the time to write a full blown article on it myself, or I felt that the articles listed did a fine job of explaining the biblical issues and there was no need to reinvent the wheel.

Disclaimer: I did not write the articles below, and I am not thoroughly familiar with all of the websites used in my clearinghouse articles. I do not endorse anything on these sites that deviates from Scripture or conflicts with my beliefs as outlined in the “Welcome” or “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

Here are the  biblical criteria I use when deciding whether or not to recommend a teacher, ministry, etc.:

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I recommend against any teacher or ministry who violates one or more of these biblical tenets.

I am not very familiar with most of the teachers I’m asked about (there are so many out there!) and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I do involves items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). Partnering with false teachers and women preaching to men are each sufficient biblical reasons not to follow a pastor, teacher, or author, or use his/her materials.

Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).

If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.


Joel & Victoria Osteen
Not Recommended

 

Primary issues with the Osteens (and their “church,” Lakewood) : Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) heresy, self-help/seeker driven theology, Scripture – when used – is twisted and mishandled, Victoria is co-“pastor” of Lakewood and women guest preachers are normative, the Osteens yoke with numerous false teachers

 

Theological Issues

What’s the Problem with Joel Osteen? at CBC Media

A Biblical Critique of Joel Osteen’s Teachings by Melissa Dougherty

Who is Joel Osteen, and are his teachings biblical? at Got Questions

The Danger Of Prosperity Preaching: A Review Of Joel Osteen at Reasons for Jesus

Justin Peters exposes Joel Osteen the Phony by Justin Peters

John MacArthur Rebukes Joel Osteen by John MacArthur

 

Book Reviews

Joel Osteen’s “Your Best Life Now” [and “Become a Better You”]: An Honest Review at Reasons for Jesus

Positive Thinking is False Thinking…and a Few Thoughts on Joel Osteen’s Latest Book (Think Better, Live Betterat Truth + Fire

 

Specific Incidents with Joel & Victoria Osteen

Joel Osteen’s “I Don’t Know”-athon on Larry King by Steve Lawson

Victoria Osteen says to do good for yourself, not God at CARM

Victoria Osteen Ripped for Telling Church ‘Just Do Good For Your Own Self’; Worship Is Not for God, ‘You’re Doing it for Yourself’ at The Christian Post

Joel Osteen: Mormons Are ‘Brothers In Christ’ on Wolf Blitzer

Just How Rich Is Joel Osteen? at TheStreet

 

Collections of Articles/Episodes

Joel Osteen at Apprising

Osteen at Berean Research

Osteen at Fighting for the Faith

Osteen at The End Time

Bible, Entertainment, Movies, Television

Six Thoughts on History’s “The Bible” ~ Part 3

This is the third of a three part series on The History Channel’s The Bible miniseries*. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

5. The faulty theology of “The Bible’s” theological advisors is influencing and slanting the way God’s word is being presented.

Rick Warren’s twisting of Scripture to fit his “Purpose Driven” overview of God’s nature and character, Joel Osteen’s self esteem boosting and positive thinking, T.D. Jakes’ prosperity gospel and modalism (an unbiblical doctrine of the Trinity), and Roma Downey’s New Age spiritual psychology degree have crept into The Bible’s stories and subtly shifted the Scriptures’ real focus on sinful man’s need of God’s redemption to a “follow the leader and together we’ll change the world” paradigm.

Go back to the beginning of the series and watch it again, counting the number of times the word “leader” is used. Every major Old Testament character has been cast as a “leader,” and Israel’s prosperity or demise is portrayed as contingent on whether the leader was good or bad and whether or not Israel followed his leadership. This is not the message of God’s word. When Israel was obedient to God, she flourished. When she rebelled and chose idolatry, she crashed and burned. Kings, judges, and prophets had influence on the people, but it was Israel’s obedience to God Himself that was the hinge on which the nation swung.

0bc90ac98e8e3d20a24be1f335b5966aIt was especially disturbing to hear prophets such as Jeremiah and Daniel being cast as “leaders.” The prophet’s job was not to lead the people. The prophet’s job was to speak the words of God to the people and exhort them to submit to Him, just as pastors are supposed to do today. Leaders say, “Follow me.” Prophets say, “Follow God.”

Further, nowhere in God’s word does it say that Jesus came to “change the world,” or “change people’s lives,” nor does the Bible teach that Christians are to do these things. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10), to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Christians are exhorted, not to the lofty goal of “changing the world,” but to the abasing role of denying ourselves, taking up our crosses daily (Luke 9:23), being persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12), and making disciples (Matt 28:19-20).

Jesus did change the world, and He does change our lives, but this was a side effect of His life, death, and resurrection, not His goal. He was here to carry out God’s plan of redemption. The movie’s “change the world” mentality puts the focus on us. Scripture puts the focus on God’s sovereign redemptive purposes.

 

6. The glory has departed from “The Bible.”

From the beautiful picture of Jesus’ sacrificial death for us in the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, to the overwhelming mercy and forgiveness of God after David’s sin with Bathsheba, to the awe-inspiring, God given faith in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s refusal to bow to an idol, the glory of God, which fairly drips from the Scriptures, is achingly absent from The Bible. To be fair, I don’t think any movie could ever completely capture the same revelation of God’s magnificence that a Christian experiences when he sits down and interacts with the Bible as the Holy Spirit moves in and among the living and active words. But there are movies that have come much closer than this one has. The Scriptures are not just a collection of stories meant to inspire us to emulate their heroes. Rather, they reveal to us who God is; a different facet of His glorious nature and character in each story we read.

 

As I conclude these six observations about History’s The Bible, it is my hope and prayer that the overall effect of the series having been telecast will be a positive one for the Kingdom. For those of us who belong to Christ, may we use it as a springboard to share the gospel with the lost and encourage discernment and study of God’s word for our brothers and sisters in Christ and for ourselves.

 

*Just a note for future readers: This article was written during the week between episodes 3 and 4 of the miniseries. Episode 3 wrapped up the Old Testament and introduced the New Testament, covering Jesus’ birth through the calling of Peter. As I write, I have not seen episode 4 or 5.