GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out)

16 12 2012

Truth Matters, November 2012, Volume 16 Issue 11

GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) A Cautionary Tale By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

          Joel Osteen, America’s favorite pastor has published yet again another bestselling book entitled “I Declare 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life.”  However, before we delve into Joel’s latest masterpiece please accompany me for a quick trip in my “Wayback machine.”[1] 

The miracle is in YOUR MOUTH.  Dare to speak those promises out loud.  Say them to yourself!  Say them to the devil!  Say them to the sickness! Say them to your mountain of trouble!  Confess them in the face of all contrary evidence!  Say them while the pain is there!! Say them while you are so sick you can hardly think!!. . .When we SAY and CONFESS His Word, He brings the miracle to pass!![2]

          If John Osteen preached the above words once, he preached them thousands of times.   John Osteen was part of the beginning of the fledgling charismatic movement.  He was formerly a Southern Baptist pastor, and had an earned Master’s degree from Northern Baptist Seminary (one of the few sign-gift leaders with any genuine seminary education).  Osteen was voted out by his congregation and left the Baptists due to his stance over the sign-gifts and began Lakewood Church as an independent ministry in 1958.

Much to my dad’s surprise, many of the people in that congregation didn’t appreciate his fresh discoveries.  They were steeped in their traditions, and because of Daddy’s enthusiastic, fiery messages weren’t exactly what they were used to hearing, it made some of them uncomfortable. . .they were upset that the supernatural God Daddy described didn’t fit into their denominational guidelines.[3]

            Even though I disagree strongly with his theology I will say that John Osteen always struck me as a decent man, good husband and father and faithful pastor to his flock.  To his credit Lakewood was one of the early churches to being openly interracial, which was no small thing in Houston Texas in the 50’s and 60’s.  Lakewood was also one of the largest churches in Texas many years before Joel came onto the silver screen.[4]

            John was one of the main proponents of what was later codified as the Word of Faith (WOF) movement/cult led by its titular head Kenneth Hagin, a close personal friend of Osteen’s.  I’ve heard John proclaim the belief that our words create our reality time and time again.  Osteen was preaching positive confession before anyone heard of Kenny and Gloria Copeland.

            John Osteen practiced what he preached.  His daughter Lisa was born with some serious physical defects, they prayed, they confessed the promises of God and in the end their daughter was totally healed.[5]  Many years later in 1981 John’s wife Dodie was stricken with live cancer.  Even though she had Oral Roberts, Ken & Gloria Copeland, T.L. and Daisy Osborn[6] all pray for her it made no difference.  It was up to her and Jesus if she was going to be healed.

I felt like I was going through a dark tunnel.  There seemed to be no end to it and yet I still confessed, ‘I am healed.’  When anybody would ask me how I felt, I never confessed that I felt bad.  I said, ‘I am blessed of the Lord.’ …Confession did not seem to work for me for quite a while, but it finally did work!  I began to see a faint ray of light.[7]

            Dodie was healed of metastatic liver cancer in 1983 and she shares her story in a little booklet “Healed of Cancer.”  Dodie rightly gives God the glory for healing her body.  However, it is her belief that she would not have been healed had she not done her part, i.e. positively confess God’s promises.  Dodie can be seen sometimes sitting on the front row of her son’s stadium.

            Why this trip in the Wayback machine?  Because when you understand his parents and their home life, which John used to vividly describe in his messages, one begins to comprehend why Joel is as he is today.  Joel was raised in an almost hyper-faith atmosphere.[8]  He never heard a discouraging word at home nor was he allowed to utter one either!  Every week on Sunday, during the mid-week services and daily at home Joel had the precepts of positive confession bringing possession drilled into his young malleable melon.  I am sure his sister Lisa was probably a great “object lesson” to remind the family and congregation about the creative power of their words if anyone began to waver in their confessed hopes.   When Joel eventually attended college he went to Oral Roberts University, Oral was a very close friend of John and Dodie’s.  Even away from home and Lakewood Joel continued to have the hard core beliefs of the WOF cult, seed faith principles, etc. poured into him.  Unlike his father Joel did not earn a degree in theology but was a communications major.  Joel has no formal biblical education at all, and yet he finds himself at the helm of the largest congregation in America and by default is assumed to have God’s blessing due to the size of his church.

            Joel is without a doubt a product of his upbringing, the apple truly did not fall far from the tree.  Joel has taken his father’s errors and spread them much further than his father ever dreamed possible.  There are some major differences however between John and Joel when it comes to ministry.  John Osteen did preach Jesus Christ fairly as the Savior from sin; he did keep that much of his Southern Baptist doctrine active, which I believe if why God allowed him the modicum of success he experienced.  Joel Osteen hardly ever mentions Jesus Christ at all in his sermons or as I will prove, his books.  Why is this?  He did not learn this from his father or at ORU, he bears this guilt alone.  Lakewood was always known as a cutting edge charismatic congregation.  People getting filled with the Spirit and speaking in other tongues, men or women shouting out the occasional prophetic word; folks getting slain in the spirit were part-n-parcel of Lakewood services under John Osteen.  From what I have observed on television Joel’s services are anything but Spirit-led in the Pentecostal sense.  Joel assiduously avoids mentioning speaking in other tongues in his broadcasts; his father worked his enthusiastic experiences into virtually every one of his messages.

            Joel has cleverly marketed himself as everybody’s pastor and has successfully divorced himself, at least publically, from his WOF cultic upbringing and his former charismania.  I don’t know how he transitioned the former charismatic Lakewood into the seeker Lakewood it is today, but he did it and it is some sort of church-growth miracle.  The unknowing channel surfer can watch Joel weekly and never know that Joel: (1) comes from a hyper-charismatic cult background; (2) that Joel and all his family practice speaking in other tongues; (3) everything Joel teaches is based on WOF heresy; (4) has no formal biblical education.  These four “unknowns” are an example of the art of superlative spinning and of a marketing miracle.

            Kenneth Hagin Sr. used to ask rhetorically “how do you poison a dog?  You put the poison in the good meat.”  How best to disseminate error to as many people as possible?  Wrap the error around a fairly good looking guy, with great teeth & hair and winsome demeanor.  Give him a communications background, television and media production experience (Joel was always behind the scenes at Lakewood) and PRESTO {a little magician’s lingo} the leaven of Lakewood is spread to spiritual seekers globally.

I had never preached before! Ever! I had spent seventeen years behind the scenes at Lakewood managing our television production.  Over the course of those years, Daddy tried many times to get me out in the public to speak, but I never had the desire to do it. . .Keep in mind, I had never even prepared a sermon.[9]

            By his own admission Joel was (and is) totally unprepared to serve as a pastor.  He had no actual pastoral training, no seminary education, not even a diploma from an unlicensed “Bible” school!  What he did have was an entire lifetime spent surrounded by the leaders of some of the most extreme enthusiasts around (Oral Roberts, Hagin, Copelands, Price, Yandian, etc.).  Growing up in this environment was all the training Joel has received, and in his mind all he needs.  Gigo, garbage in over a lifetime, now , garbage out to an undiscerning spiritually hungry world.  Some of Joel’s foundational beliefs include things such as:

WOF & Words

God created everything by speaking “faith-filled” words. God created man in His image. Man was to be the ‘god’ of this world, but Adam committed high treason and gave his dominion over to Satan, who became the ‘god’ of this world. Man, like God has the ability to create reality by speaking either faith-filled or fear-filled words.  This is a spiritual law and it works for everybody whether they know it or not, but usually in the negative. Spirit-filled Christians are to function exactly like Jesus did on earth “speaking” to fig trees, mountains, devils, sickness — because we are to do His works & greater works. To learn how to walk like Jesus all it takes is revelation knowledge, which you cannot obtain in seminaries, but you can receive it via “anointed” teachers (Copeland, Hagin, Hinn, Dollar).

As a graduate of Robert Tilton’s Bible School and former WOF cult pastor I can assure you that the lynch-pin of the WOF cult is their alleged doctrine of the creative power of our words.  Virtually everything they teach hinges upon their concept of positive confession (pc).  Once you swallow this false doctrine then everything else they teach makes sense within their specific paradigm.  Everything is traced back to spoken words in their worldview.  For the newer readers, or those without a sign-gift background the following is a very brief peek into the basic WOF doctrine of words:

Most of the above mentioned CON cepts are seen in his books or heard in his messages.  Make no mistake about it — Joel Osteen is an ardent WOF heretic in the same class with Mr. Copeland, Hinn, Dollar, Meyers, Duplantis, et al.

            “I Declare” is Joel’s third major book and it is simply an expansion of some of the CONcepts he plated up for public deception in his prior book “Your Best Life Now.”  In order for us to experience our “best” (as defined by his version of the American dream) now we have to do the following:

As long as you can’t imagine it, as long as you can’t see it, then it is not going to happen for you.  It’s the same way with us. . .We have to conceive it on the inside before we’re ever going to receive it on the outside.[10] But if you develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace, and happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you.[11]

God abides by the laws He established, and if you don’t sow, you will not reap.[12]

Your Best Life Now is around 300 pages of well camouflaged WOF ‘101’ doctrine.  The spiritual law goes something like this: (1) First you begin by visualizing what it is you desire, say physical healing.  You must begin to “see” yourself as totally healed, the more precise and vivid an inner picture you and paint the better. (2) Then you must begin to confess verbally to yourself and to others (when asked) that you are totally healed prior to any manifestation of healing at this point.  This confession is usually comprised on various snippets of Bible verses taken out of their context, yet claimed as “God’s promises” for your life. (3) During this time of visualization and positive confession you will have to cast down every thought or report you are given that contradicts your stance.  During the waiting period (between initial confession & final possession) one must guard against digging up their “seed” (words) by giving in and confessing negativity about what you want.  When this happens then one must begin the process over.  Negative words will cancel out the positive ones, if the individual has more faith in the negative coming to pass.

If you allow your thoughts to defeat you and then give birth to negative ideas through your words, you actions will follow suit.  That’s why we need to be extremely careful about what we think and especially careful about what we say.  Our words have tremendous power, and whether we want to or not, we will give life to what we’re saying, either good or bad.[13]

(4) In God’s timing, if you remain steadfast in your confession you will receive what you have conceived in your heart and confessed with your mouth, isn’t this what Jesus taught in Mark 11:24?

            Your Best Life Now lays out the framework for why it is a necessity to verbally proclaiming the BEST desires of your heart until they manifest in your life.  As further proof that Joel is nothing more than a clever redressing of old sign-gift heresy we come to Chapter 28 of this book is called “The Seed Must Lead” and it is a shortened version of Oral Robert’s “seed faith” heresy that he made popular back in the early 1950’s and this false doctrine has syphoned off untold hundreds of millions of dollars from legitimate Church ministries.[14] Gigo, garbage in, garbage out.

            I Declare is Joel’s subtle next step into silently converting his followers into WOF demi-gods.  This is a much shorter book than Your Best Life Now.  This book is very similar to the previous one and honestly, it is like all of John’s and Joel’s sermons; one sort of ‘point’ with a lot of ancillary stories from either his father’s life or from people Joel knows.  On a very infrequent basis Joel attempts to shore up his doctrine with some cherry-picked pericope from the Bible.

            The book consists of 31 declarations aka positive confessions that the reader is to “declare” over their lives at the beginning of each day and then hold fast to that confession regardless of the circumstances or situations life may threw against you.  I have heard Kenny Copeland say on numerous occasions “if you play the game right you win,” meaning that if we simply will implement God’s “laws” regarding our words, then we will be victorious every time!

            The first words on the page of Joel’s latest book PROVE is a WOF heretic by writing the following:

Our words have creative power.  Whenever we speak something, either good or bad, we give life to what we are saying. . .They don’t realize they are prophesying their futures. . .Here is the key; you’ve got to send your words out in the direction you want your life to go.[15]  

            For those who might say that Joel Osteen is not a WOF devotee, because he has never said he was let me simply point you to a few of the following titles, all from people personally known by the Osteen family and apart from Joyce, all of these enthusiasts have helped shape and form Joel Osteen into the proclaimer of error he has become.

Your Words Hold a Miracle: The Power of Speaking God’s Word, John Osteen

There is a Miracle in Your Mouth, John Osteen

Reigning in Life As a King, John Osteen

How To Release The Power of God, John Osteen

Living in the Abundance of God, John Osteen Words, Kenneth E. Hagin

You Can Have What You Say, Kenneth E. Hagin

Right and Wrong Thinking, Kenneth E. Hagin

How To Be A Success In Life, Kenneth E. Hagin The Power of the Tongue, Kenneth Copeland

Living in Heaven’s Blessings Now, Gloria Copeland The Tongue: A Creative Force, Charles Capps

How To Avoid Tragedy and Live a Better Life, Charles Capps Change Your Words, Change Your Life: Understanding the Power of Every Word You Speak, Joyce Meyer Power Thoughts: 12 Strategies to Win the Battle of the Mind, Joyce Meyer

Two Difference Between Joel and these authors —-        

 One major difference between Joel and the fifteen titles I cited (I could easily add 50 more titles) is that the above authors speak basically in reference to Jesus whereas Joel does not. Joel does not even mention Jesus until chapter 10 of his book.  When he does mention our Lord it is in regard to Christ making wine at the wedding “Jesus sped up the winemaking process —God can do in a split second what might otherwise take you many years.”[16]  Joel NEVER refers to Jesus Christ as God the Son, as our Savior, as the sacrifice for the sin of the world.  Nor does he make any appeal to the readers to place their faith in the finished work of Jesus for them.  He does not even invite the reader at the end of the book to consider the claims of Christ, to pray, to receive Him as Lord, nothing like the normal American “evangelical” pattern at all.

Secondly, the above books all proof-text[17] massively whereas Joel does not cite many biblical texts at all and sadly, when he does cite the Bible he also resorts to proof-texting since he has never learned how to properly exegete the texts.  Here are some example of this truth-twisting Joel does:

1)     Ephesians 2:10 says, “You are God’s masterpiece,” (p. 68) — yes we are God’s handiwork (ποίημα or worksmanship) created in CHRIST for good works. Joel leaves this out.

2)     Jesus said ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.’  God wants to make your life easier, (p. 105).  He was comparing the heavy burden of keeping the Law as opposed to the liberty and freedom that come from walking in the light of the Gospel.  Where does the Bible say God wants to “make our life easier”?  Jesus said in John 16:33 that in this world we shall suffer tribulation, but in Him we have peace. Those who desire to live godly IN CHRIST JESUS shall suffer persecution 2 Timothy 3:12. 1 Peter 4:16Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”           

3)     It says in Romans 5:17, “We are to reign in life as kings” (p. 117).  That is a misinterpretation of the text. Here is the entire verse “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ)AGAIN Joel leaves out any reference to reigning in life BY ONE, CHRIST JESUS.  Paul’s entire thought is about Adam’s sin and the remedy for our ancestral and inherited sin —- the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the ungodly!  Joel does not go here at all.

4)     James 4:2 says, ‘You have not because you ask not,’ (p.143). The entire text reads “You desire and do not have; you murder and are filled with envy, and are not able to obtain; you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, in order that you may spend it on your pleasures.  The lack in our lives is because we are not asking God for great things, never mind the part about asking with wrong (selfish) motives, asking for things to bring you pleasure and make your life a waking dream.

5)     And He promises in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for our good” (p. 147). Joel’s statement is FALSE.  God did not promise that all things are working for the readers good.  What He DID promise is this: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

6)     God says, ‘If you take the limits off Me I’ll amaze you with My goodness.  I’ll not only meet your needs, I’ll take it one step further. I’ll give you the desires of your heart.’ (2 Cor. 9:8-9 NIV) (p. 113). The verse reads in the NIV as follows: “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”  There is nothing in this text which indicates that God will give you the desires of your heart. That is a citation from Ps. 37:4.  This text says that IF we delight ourselves in the Lord (only possible for Christians) THEN He will give us their desires of our heart.  Also, does this mean that He will give us “our” hearts desires or that He will place in our hearts His desires?  I believe the latter is true.

 These are not all the examples of Joel’s abuse of the scriptures, but I believe they are indicative of a very troubling pattern I have noticed in Joel’s preaching, in his televised interviews and now his writings —- he seems to intentionally leave out Jesus in all three venues of expression.  I admit that intentionality speaks to motive (a little Barrister lingo here) and no man knows the motives of another man, however I make my claim based on the facts in evidence.

For example why doesn’t Jesus figure prominently in the preaching and writing of America’s leading pastor?  When Jesus is cited it is by example of Him speaking “faith-filled” words into existence or taking life out of existence (the cursed fig tree, p. 164).  He is not shown as God the Son, moving as Emmanuel among the people.  Jesus is not portrayed as the suffering servant (what, Jesus suffer?) who came to die for the sins of the world.

Any Mormon, Jehovah Witness, Unity School member, theosophist, Christian Scientist, even Muslim’s can read this book as it is written and not be offended by its contents.  Nor will they have their current belief system challenged.  The book is so doctrinally insipid that any form of deist could place it on their bookshelves, and no doubt many have done just this.

I have counted the number of times the following words occur in Joel’s book to help prove my contention: the cross – 1 time, p. 17; Christ – 1 time; Jesus – 21 times; God – over 200 times.  In the entire book only 18 times are biblical texts cited.  Virtually every time Joel cites a text he misapplies it to such a degree that it is no longer “God’s Word” because he has made it a lie by taking it so far out of context.  God is never referred to as “the God of the Bible,” or “the Father of Jesus,” He is presented as the generic God that any reader could claim as their current understanding of deity.  The Holy Spirit is also never directly referenced as far as I could tell, after all, to do so might lead some readers to wonder if Joel is some form of Trinitarian (he is, but why share this and confuse others, right?).

  A lot of times we pray about our mountains: God please help me. . .It’s good to ask God to help you.  But when you face a mountain, it’s not enough to pray.  It’s not enough to just believe.  It’s not enough to just think good thoughts. Here’s they key: you have to speak to your mountains.[18]

You may be praying about things you should be speaking to…If you have health problems, instead of begging God to heal you, you need to declare to that sickness, ‘Sickness, you have no right in my body. I’m a child of the Most High God, You are not welcome here…I’m commanding you to leave my body.’[19]

There is a time to pray.  But there is a time to speak.  You don’t pray about your mountains; you speak to your mountains.[20]

            These declarations are not prayers to God, so what are they?  WOF doctrine teaches that words are carriers of either the spiritual force of faith or of fear.  They take quite literally Hebrews 11:1faith is the substance of things hoped for. . .” To Joel faith is an actual spiritual substance, a force which is wielded victoriously via the mouthed words of the adept.  These words (declarations) will cosmically draw the things, people, opportunities (Joel continually refers to them as “good breaks”), and money to us.  Our words are either used by God or the devil and demons to bring to pass whatsoever we confess for good or bad.  Joel is quite adamant about his belief that we all are living the lives we have created for ourselves.

            There are many problems with the doctrine of positive confession which are beyond the scope of this article.  Let the following be sufficient for now: 1) Positive confession is not taught anywhere in the Bible as a doctrine of the Church.  2) None of the writers of the Bible ever teach that our words have creative power similar to God who speaks things into being ex nihilo (out of nothing). 3) None of the Church Fathers wrote anything akin to what Joel is telling his readers to do.  This idea that we create reality by what we believingly confess is a novel idea in the Church and as a teaching is less than seventy (70) years old.  The mind-science cults that served as the fountainhead for this demonic deception are less than 160 years old themselves.

The Tyranny of Words

            One more serious flaw with Joel’s doctrine is that it puts those who adhere to it in bondage.  I experienced this personally as a WOF pastor many years ago.  I learned I could not know how any member of the congregation was really doing by asking the members.  Asking a PC person “how are you doing” will elicit a response of “oh Pastor, I am blessed in the city, blessed in the field, why I am the head and not the tail, blessed by Almighty God, filled with His Spirit, growing from faith to faith and glory to glory.”  Joel, as a pastor, does not want to hear about how big your problems are, he wants to hear how big your God is (see p. 124 Your Best Life Now) and Joel’s people are afraid to confess the truth because then they will dig up and cancel out their (hopefully) sprouting faith-filled words by speaking negative (reality as it is) words.

This places people under a tremendous weight.  They must watch their words at every waking moment.  They must be careful who they associate with, because negative people can also hinder one’s receiving.  Every thought must be held captive to whatever the dream/vision/hope one is trying to create.  Any thought to the contrary (even warning’s from the Lord) to what you are declaring is automatically consigned to Satan and cast down.  Once one starts down the path, there is no turning back unless the goal is willingly forfeited by the practitioner.

There is also the agony of doubt created by such a subjective concept.  Faith-filled words only produce when they are spoken from the heart and not the head (mind).  Their view is of man as a tri-partite being comprised of spirit, soul and body.  The spirit is reborn; the soul (mind, will, emotions) must be renewed by the Word.  Then together these two will control the body.  The only way they can know for certain that they are speaking true faith-filled words is when they receive what they are confessing.  Remember, these folks are either trying to confess the dream in their heart OR they are confessing things mentally to get them down in their spirit.  In either case, the acid test is the obtaining of whatever is being sought.  Since generally the things being sought do not arrive automatically, one must be prepared to begin confessing and never stop until the manifestation, even if it takes many many years.

            Since Joel is very clear that this spiritual law works every time it is properly used I would like him to explain these various events in light of this doctrine.  How did his father John end up on kidney dialysis for several years prior to his death?  John taught Joel all about confession brings possession yet John did not receive his deliverance from kidney failure.  Nor did he receive healing from the heart problems which eventually took his life.  Also, the positive confessions of his entire church for John while he was in the hospital were also of no avail (I will not go into the prophetic words that said John would live and not die, but be died anyway).  How is it that his mother got cancer in the first place?  We rejoice over God’s grace in restoring her, but she should not have gotten ill to begin with, how did that cancer spirit gain entrance?  Why did his sister Lisa’s first marriage end in divorce?  I know beyond any doubt that much confession went up prior to the marriage and during it.  Why didn’t those words work?

Joel’s View of Sin

            Something else is troubling about Joel’s writings.  In these two books and in his preaching and television interviews he does not talk about sin, judgment or hell.  Joel’s father planted the fetid seeds of “you are no long a sinner, you were a sinner but now you are a saint.”[21]  Joel grew up believing that he is not a sinner any longer.  I buttress this belief with these comments:

…King David, made a lot of mistakes. . .David didn’t focus on his faults or on the times he had done wrong.  No, he lived favor-minded.[22]

That’s not to condone wrongdoing, but the truth is, we all have areas in which we need to improve.  We can’t become so focused on our faults that we cease to enjoy who God made us to be.[23]

…David wasn’t perfect.  He made mistakes, he became discouraged, but he prayed. . .You may need to pray something similar. ‘God please help me to get rid of this negative attitude.[24]

Your job is not to judge.  Your job is not to figure out if someone deserves something, or to decide who is right or who is wrong.[25]

            Joel never uses the word “sin” or “sinner” in the entirety of his books.  To say the word “sin” is to give it place in his life and I suppose those of his hearers.  King David did make a lot of mistakes, but he also sinned grievously against his Lord.  He did not confess he missed it, he confessed his sins.

            We should be focused on our faults and wrongdoing if they are indeed sinful, which all wrongdoing is.  Guilt is a good thing when it drives the person to their knees seeking forgiveness from our Lord Jesus Christ.  We should feel guilty when we sin.  However, if we ignore sin and simply cast down guilt feelings immediately as “negative” is spiritually unwise.

            Obviously to Joel sin is no real problem in the Christian life, if it were as a pastor he would surely address it.  No, the pressing problem for us is not sin, but a poor self-image created by our negative words and those who accepted into our hearts from others.  Joel would have people believe that if they just change their thinking, renew their minds according to the cherry-picked promises (many of which are really not promises per se) then their former wrong doing will cease and via their declarations God will bring good things to them.

            Where the Bible does urge we confess — “If we confess (ὁμολογῶμεν) our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)Joel is silent. Or how about in James 5:16Therefore, confess (ἐξομολογέομαι)your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Note that it does not read “confess your mistakes” but says sins.  Lastly, what of our Lord’s own statement in Matthew 10:32-33So everyone who acknowledges(ὁμολογήσει) me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.  Where is the acknowledgement/confession of Jesus Christ as Lord in his preaching or his writing?  It is absent.

            In place of leading the people in a united public confession of sin and then standing before them as Christ’s mouthpiece and speaking forth the words of absolution Joel leads them in another confession he got from his father: ‘No wonder he held up his Bible every service and said, ‘This is my Bible.  I am what it says I am.  I have what I says I have’ (see p.64 Your Best Life Now).  Joel and his people confess a longer form of this same confession in each service.  I doubt Lakewood has ever been led by Joel or anyone in confessing the Apostles or Nicene creeds, I doubt Joel knows them.

            Joel’s latest book is simply more of the same heresy continued from his previous publication.  Both of his books prove beyond any controversy that Mr. Osteen is a Word of Faith heretic.  He may hold the title ‘pastor’ and his people may refer to him as such but Mr. Osteen is no biblical pastor.  He does not meet the qualifications to serve as pastor.  He refuses to preach Christ crucified for the SINS of the world.  He has not openly preached Jesus Christ in his services, books or interviews.  He intentionally leaves Jesus out of the verses that pertain to Him!  Joel is a false shepherd and he is misleading (unintentionally let us hope) multitudes further from Christ and not closer to Him.  DMI urges that prayer is offered for Joel’s deliverance from doctrinal darkness for the sake of his soul and those who follow him.


[1] The Way Back machine was an integral part of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show, okay I date myself.

[2] Osteen, John. There is a Miracle in Your Mouth. A John Osteen Publication. Houston, Tx. 1972 p. 6.

[3] Osteen, Joel. Your Best Life Now. Warner Faith. New York, NY, 2004 p.172.  Bold type added for emphasis.

[4] There is no dispute that Lakewood has grown exponentially under Joel’s smiling gaze.  He started with something like a mere 6,000 or people and now speaks to 40,000 people in person on Sunday and multitudes more via television.

[5] There are a great many accounts, sadly, probably most of them that are false.  However in the two cases in the Osteen’s life we see the genuine mercy of God.

[6] Daisy Osborn would later die of cancer, no confessions could heal her.

[7] Osteen, Dodie. Joel . John Osteen Publication. Houston, TX. 1986, pp. 42-43.

[8] I followed the hyper-faith teachers, Dr. Hobart Freeman and Elbert Willis.  These men took the WOF teachings to their logical conclusions.  Eschewing doctors, medicine, insurance, hospitals were all proof of “faith.”  The few hyper-faith teachers were not welcomed by the other WOF leaders, because the hyper-faith preachers “walked the walk,” whereas Hagin, Copeland, Harrison, etc. did not.

[9] Osteen, Joel. Your Best Life Now. Warner Faith. New York, Ny. 2004, p.215. Underlining added for emphasis.

[10] Ibid. p. 3

[11] Ibid. p. 5

[12] Ibid. pp. 256-257

[13] Ibid. pp. 121-122. Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

[14] The dirty little secret is that Oral Roberts PAID Eugene Ewing for the CONcept of “seed faith” when Roberts SINistry was about bankrupt in the late 1960’s.  Ewing taught Roberts the whole scheme of “give and God will give back to you.”  Ewing has remained a “mystery man” ever since, his great wealth has kept him well insulated.

[15] Osteen Joel. I Declare. FaithWords. New York, NY. 2012, p. v. Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

[16] Ibid. p. 56.

[17] Proof-texting is the bad practice of simply taking a biblical text out of its context, thus making it a pretext and using it to buttress a point being made.  With proof texting the person simply tries to find texts that “fit” their doctrine as opposed to making their doctrine submit to the contextual authority of the passage.

[18] Ibid. p. 161 Underlining & bold type added.

[19] Ibid. p. 162

[20] Ibid. p. 165

[21] This is not a direct quote from John, but he has made this statement, as have virtually all of the WOF cultists.

[22] Osteen, Joel. Your Best Life Now. P. 48

[23] Ibid. p. 66

[24] Ibid. p. 192

[25] Osteen, Joel. I Declare. P. 89





Faithful or Faulty Preaching?

30 12 2011

Truth Matters Newsletters – December 2011 – Vol. 16 Issue 12 – Faithful or Faulty Preaching? – Rev. Robert Liichow

 Discernment Ministries International

 Faithful or Faulty Preaching?

 It is my prayer that this particular article makes our entire readership pause and take a hard look at what passes for preaching in today’s pulpits, especially our own pastors. I am not referring to the style in which the message is delivered. Every pastor has a unique God-given personality, thus the “aroma of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:15) given off varies from person to person. Delivery style is pretty much a synthesis of personality, observed behavior, training and culture. Some preachers are animated, jovial and demonstrative; others are more somber and stately. Preaching style is never an issue biblically speaking. One may or may not be appreciative of the manner in which the news is delivered, but to the mature (2) ultimately it comes down to the message itself and not the messenger.

 One thing that separates truly confessional Lutheranism (3) from every other denomination is the focus of every sermon preached from a pulpit. This is quite a statement to make I know, but allow me to buttress my comments upon the following foundation. As many of our readers know this author has been around the block spiritually speaking: (1) I was raised a child in the United Presbyterian Church, 2) joined The Word of God charismatic community {shepherding/discipleship movement} in Ann Arbor, 3) was a member of the Pentecostal Church of God, 4) preached for the Church of the Brethren, 5) did pulpit supply at Calvin East Presbyterian Church, 6) was a staff minister at Grace Community Church (church growth Baptists), 7) Associate pastor at Greater Faith Christian Center (Word of Faith church), 8) helped found Eastside Community Church (Southern Baptist), 9) pastor of Word of Life Fellowship (charismatic), 10) joined St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, 11) Teaching/Preaching Elder at Jubilee Christian Church {apostolic movement}, 12) currently members of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, English District. (4) These are only the groups I have worked for and with, the list of places we’ve visited would fill the page. I share this to prove “I’ve been around” and while I have obviously not been everywhere nor have I heard every pastor, however I have taken a pretty large sampling over the years and things have not gotten better in pulpits over the years, in fact, I suspect even worse than when I began my search for the purity of the gospel over twenty years ago.

 The manner in which one approaches Holy Scripture will shape and form the content of the sermon preached. Modern American evangelicals view the Bible as a divine book of instructions on how to live a life pleasing to God. I grew up with this acronym for “Bible” — Believers Instructions Before Leaving Earth. I grew up reading the Bible as the inerrant user’s manual for Christian living. Is this wrong? No, not really, the Bible is filled with God’s law, what He demands of people, and His wisdom for daily life. The central focus of all Scripture however is Jesus Christ and nothing else.

 Sadly the vast majority of sermons preached on Sunday fail to pass the litmus test given in the very Bible these people claim to faithfully proclaim. Due to the abovementioned errant approach to the Bible God’s people end up being fed a consistent diet of what can only be called “preaching the Christian and not the Christ.” Sermons are all about Christian living, how to have a successful marriage, stewardship series, spiritual gifts and human potential. For example, America’s most famous and favorite preacher, Joel Osteen can be seen daily on television. Mr. Osteen preaches to a mob of over forty thousand (40,000) each week in his stadium. One can listen to Joel’s sermons and not hear anything about the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes Osteen does not even mention His name let alone proclaim His virtues. He preaches how to be a successful upwardly mobile self-actualized individual of incalculable value. Joel is an easy target. How about your church? What is preached from your pulpit as the sermon? Is it some topical message taken from the Bible? Is the message geared on giving you something to “do,” to work on, steps to better yourself, a principle to enact, a habit to break or start? All these types of messages are derived from reading the Bible as a rule or guidebook.

 There is another way in which to approach the bible, it is the manner which Luther brought back to its rightful place in the Church. Luther saw Christ in the Scriptures from beginning to end and that is what shaped what he believed confessed and taught. This does not sound all that revolutionary to our ears today, but this is precisely because of Luther! In Luther’s day the sermon to God’s people was rife with superstition, nonsense, error, heresy and in many cases was presented to God’s people by an uneducated and untrained clergy (sounds exactly like our situation today). There was plenty of “law” directives in what to do, when and for how long being proclaimed but where was the Gospel? Where was Jesus Christ in this proclamation?

 Upon a closer inspection of the scriptures Luther began to see what we take for granted today and all willingly pay lip service regarding its validity, by this I mean the Christocentric nature of the scriptures.

 Luther saw:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. 1

 Eternal life is not in knowing the scriptures, it comes from knowing the Subject of the scriptures, the Lord Jesus Christ, He Himself is eternal life. All of the Bible points to Christ either in His forthcoming, His incarnation, death burial and physical resurrection — they testify of Christ!

 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeded from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. 2

 As a former charismatic extremist I got an “A” in Pneumatology and folks the bottom line is very simple; the Spirit of Grace always and only glories Jesus Christ. Anything that points anywhere other than the Person and work of Jesus Christ is simply not the Holy Spirit in operation. Simply listen to a “sermon” by Benny Hinn or Joel Osteen. Listen to how much of the focus is upon themselves, what happened to them, virtually nothing about Jesus Christ.

 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 3

 Jesus Himself instructs these disciples to open their eyes to see that the scriptures concerned Himself! The Bible really is, as silly as it sounds, “His-story” from Genesis to the book of The Revelation of (who?) Jesus Christ!

 What do we read in the Book of Acts concerning the message declared? Did Peter get up and preach “three steps to a better Sabbath rest” or “five keys to answering Pontius Pilate?” No he preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified (Acts 3:35-37). Before being stoned Stephen boldly declared Christ to his executioners (Acts 7). The original message was revolutionary then and it still is where it is faithfully proclaimed. “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? Of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scriptures, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water, and the eunuch said, See, here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized? 4

 Philip did not proclaim the joys of celibacy to the eunuch but was able but was able to preach Christ from the text the man was studying. Philip could not have preached Christ if he had not seen Him there, after all the Jews read the same text for centuries and never got who it was referring to.

 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 5

 The Apostle Paul said that all he focused on instilling in these disciples was Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He did not try to persuade his hearers by enticing words or with a strikingly handsome physique. He did not preach his experience in heaven, he allowed the Gospel, the power of God (Romans 1:16) to be the anchor of men’s faith. We know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17), tell me then what kind of faith is being developed that is not taught about Jesus Christ?

 Some spiritual adepts might say “well preaching about Jesus and Him crucified is fine for babes, but I understand that truth and now I am ready to go onto deeper truths.” The thinking of such people indicates that Jesus is nothing more than a piece of their inner greater cosmic puzzle.

 Those who think they no longer need to hear about their desperate condition before a holy God (Law) and the gracious provision given by the father in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of their souls (Gospel) are people who do not recognize the seriousness of their sin and the glory of our redemption from it.

 If you stop to think about it all the people running around with “WWJD” bracelets are often functionally illiterate regarding exactly what Jesus did do and does for them right now. The vast majority of the sermons they have heard all their lives surround various aspects of Christian living and not the Christ who supplies the grace to enable all of us to live for Him.

 As one hears about Jesus in the Gospel’s preaching faith in Him is birthed. Through this knowledge, which has become a living faith and koinonia with the risen Lord now forms and directs our reactions to life. Issues cease to be a speculative pondering about what would/might Jesus do but the believer knows what Jesus did on the cross for us because he has been fed a diet consisting of Christ Jesus.

 The truly productive Christian life has to be nourished on Christ Jesus, in fact He and Him alone is to be the foundation of our existence:

 Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” 7 Matthew 7:23-27

 Jesus is the “Rock” (Matt. 16:18, 1 Cor. 10:4) that if we are established on Him then when the storms of life strike us (and they will) we will survive them due to our foundation. How are we established on the Rock? Through the foolishness of preaching (1Cor. 1:21) Christ . . . . Nourished on knowing Him, who He is, what He has done, and what is He currently doing for His Church.

 Read what our Lord says concerning the content and topic of the Scriptures on the following page:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. (13) Luke 4:18-21

 The text was and is about Jesus, it is not about financial prosperity, physical healing or lifting oppression as separate categories of truth. All these blessings are ancillary to the One producing them, the Lord Himself.

 In closing ponder this additional fact when considering what passes for preaching today; biblical prophecy. Our Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies, meaning HE, Jesus, is the specific focus of these prophecies. Any prophetic words yet to be fulfilled refer to His return, His Second Coming. Biblical prophecy is concerned with our Lord. Ergo any preaching about prophetic events must logically find their loci in Christ Jesus.

 Is what is being proclaimed from the pulpit focused on Jesus Christ or is the message or the “series” being preached about anything else but Jesus? D.M.I prays that you are being fed a solid diet of God’s Word, our Lord Jesus when you gather together for worship.

 

Copyright © 2011 Robert S. Liichow

 

End Notes

 

1. PLEASE UNDERSTAND THIS: Discernment Ministries International uses the SAME “scale of judgment” FIRST on ourselves; next on our own local communion & denomination and LASTLY others. I say this lest anyone think I am writing about “other pastors.” No my friends, I am writing this for you to examine your own house FIRST then apply it to those we wage war with. Judgment begins in the House of the Lord (1 Peter 4:17) and we are not hypocrites and hold ourselves and brothers to the same standard we hold the heretics to.

 2. The spiritually immature often get “caught” as in enamored by the personality/charisma of the preacher and really never hear what he is proclaiming. Others are turned off by a speakers manner and fail to receive whatever was to be their portion of that service’s “manna” from them.

 3. I am a member of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod and as an ordained minister I feel free to speak of what I know. Sadly, within our own ranks there are many congregations being led by pastors who are not genuinely faithful to their confession and vows as Lutheran pastors. My wife and I have the distinct good pleasure to sit under an excellent pastor who is faithful to our Lord and the call on his life and through him we have met many other great men of God, all is not lost, but it is getting very dark outside.

 4. These are not in amy chronological order.

 5. If history describes Paul correctly he and I share what is nown as “faces best seen on radio.”

 6. The Holy Bible King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), Jn 5-39-40

 7. The Holy Bible King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), Jn 15:26-27.

 8. The Holy Bible King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), Lk 24:25-27

 9. The Holy Bible King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), Ac 5:41-42

 10. The Holy Bible King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), Ac 8:34-36

 11. The Holy Bible King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2009), 1 Co. 2:2-5

 12. The Holy Bible English Standard Version, (Wheaton Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mt. 7:23-27

 13. The Holy Bible English Standard Version, (Wheaton Standard Bible Society, 2001), Lk 4:18-21.

 

 





Words of the Profit

10 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2008 Vol. 13 Issue 1 – Words of the Profit by Kyle Smith

Discernment Ministries International

Words of the Profit

By Kyle Smith

January 6, 2008 — A holy man in Chuck Palahniuk’s darkly funny 1999 novel “Survivor” sells 200 million copies of a self-help guide called “The Book of Very Common Prayer,” which includes The Prayer to Locate a Lost Contact Lens and The Prayer to Prevent Mildew Stains. The Prayer for a Parking Space goes:

Oh, divine and merciful God,

History is without equal for how much I will adore You,

When you give me today, a place to park…

In Your care will I find respite. With Your

Guidance, will I find peace.

To stop, to rest, to idle, to park

These are Yours to give me. This is what I ask.

Amen.

Just eight years later, the principal difference between Palahniuk’s satire and the most popular preacher in America today, Joel Osteen, is that Osteen’s message is more blasphemous. Osteen’s seven million Christian TV viewers might be interested to learn that Osteen, a college dropout with no formal training, is, literally, a heretic whose message is being called “Satanic,” “occult” and “antichrist” by respected evangelical ministers (See, for instance, the blog of Connecticut River Baptist Church pastor Ken Silva).

Osteen, who wears a deranged flash-frozen-smile – he looks like Martin Short playing the Joker – received a $13 million advance for his new book, “Become a Better You,” and collects $73 million a year in donations at the former home to the Houston Rockets that is now Lakewood “Church.” “Survivor,” not the Bible, seems to be the blueprint for Osteen’s life. Palahniuk’s character Tender Branson is born into a religious cult; Osteen inherited his ministry from his father John, a babbling freak who believed in faith healing and announced, at 77, that God had just given him the okay to keep preaching into his 90s. Two weeks later, Osteen Sr. was dead. Palahniuk’s Tender Branson gets a makeover from agents who pump him up with exercise and steroids; Osteen bench-presses 300 pounds. “People shopping for a Messiah want quality. Nobody is going to follow a loser,” writes Palahniuk. Tender Branson’s agent tells him, “Think of those young people out in the world struggling with outdated religious or with no religions, think of those people as your target market.” Osteen doesn’t stick to outdated religions – his church is non-denominational – or any religion at all. There are no crosses or other religious symbols in his church.

Even Palahniuk, though, doesn’t dare place Man over God on the Who’s Hot in the Cosmos List. Osteen has said, “You can cancel out God’s plan by speaking negative words.” Whoa, there, preacher boy. That ain’t Christianity. Christians don’t believe they can change the will of God, I hope I don’t win the lottery”). Even the Palahniukian prayer says, “These are yours to give me” and leaves the rest up to Him.

Osteen’s favorite code word is “increase,” because that gives a Biblicalish spin to materialist goals, as in “God wants to increase you financially, by giving you promotions.” When Osteen cites the Bible (note to TV interviewers: Try springing a little Scriptural quiz on Osteen the next time you get him in the chair) he doesn’t merely miss the point, He steers the opposite way. Osteen cites Colossians 3:2 (“Set your mind and keep it on the higher things”) in his book, “Your Best Life Now” (chapter two, page one – or 2:1) as applicable to the situation, “Perhaps you work in sales, and you are scheduled to give an important presentation.” God wants to help you “snag that big contract” if you set your mind to it.

Flip to Colossians 3:2 (King James Version) and you’ll find that the entire verse reads, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:5 warns against “covetousness, which is idolatry.” Osteen’s books are all about covetousness and idolatry. He is a false prophet to whom God is a cosmic waiter. (“Hi! My name is God and I’ll be your deity this evening. Start you off with a bottle of water?”)

The Word-Faith Movement,” of which Osteen is a member, uses God as a Trojan horse to sell the ancient mystic rubbish – picture it and you’ll pocket it – that also drives “The Secret.” doesn’t pretend to be a tax-exempt religion.

If the IRS doesn’t nab Osteen, maybe Palahniuk should sue him for plagiarism. Osteen writes, “Perhaps you’re searching for a parking spot in a crowded lot. Say, ‘Father, I thank You for leading me and guiding me. Your favor will cause me to get a good spot.”

Osteen recalls the time he tasked God with being his personal parking aide, and lo: ‘Just as I steered our car past the front row of parked cars, another car backed out as I approached…it was the premier spot in that parking lot.”

Maybe Osteen didn’t learn all of the lessons of The Gospel According to Chuck, though: “Survivor” climaxes with Tender Branson being chased by an angry mod.





7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day

4 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2007 Vol. 12 Issue 11 – 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day

by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

When Larry King mentions me as a “critic” of Joel Osteen our web site went down for 2 days due to excessive band-width use which told me that a lot of people were downloading my initial article concerning Joel. Next more negative e-mails berating me for simply pointing out the errors Joel had made in his interview began to flow in. I knew it would only be a matter of time before a Osteenite asked me “well have you even read Pastor Osteen’s book?” I can honestly answer in the affirmative and tell them “yes I have and here is the problem I have with it.”

Joel’s latest book is the largest printing ever published at one time by A Free Press, the publishers of his materials. They’ve printed an initial 3 million copies of his latest book based on how well his former book Your Best Life Now performed.

This book could easily be entitled “The Little Engine that Could” or possibly “Fake It Till You Make It,” and anyone who has been involved with the charismatic movement will be disappointed in the contents because it says absolutely nothing new. The entire premise of the book can be boiled down to the old aphorism “God helps those who help themselves.”

In the DMI archive we have several bookcases filled with titles such as: Super Brain Power: 6 keys to Unlocking Your Hidden Genius; God is My CEO: Following God’s Principles in a Bottom-Line World; Prayer, Power, and Prosperity: Three Keys to a Move of God; Biblical Keys to Financial Prosperity; seven Facts About Prevailing Prayer (John Osteen), You Can Change Your Destiny (another John Osteen)…and the list could go on.

Now just when we thought we might have gotten past the formulaic approach of laws, principles, and rules for spiritual development we are offered another set of 7 keys to self-improvement! Here is Joel’s list: 1). Keep pressing forward. 2) Be positive toward yourself, 3) Develop better relationships, 4). Form better habits 5). Embrace the place where you are 6). Develop your inner life and 7). Stay passionate about life!

Obviously, the book is divided into these 7 sections and we’ll take a quick trip through each (it will save you the price of buying the book)! The first chapter urges the reader to never be content with where they are in life. “He’s a progressive God and He wants every generation to be increasing in happiness, success and significances. (1)

The Apostle Paul said this about Contentment:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Phil. 4:11-13

Paul’s source of contentment was found in Christ Jesus not in any material sources. Whether he had “plenty” or whether he was in need Paul was content because he had the correct focus knowing who was his source of strength.

Where does the Bible ever say that one of God’s purposes is for us to be happy? I’d be willing to grant He does not want us to be depressed or despondent but where does the Scripture teach that God wants each succeeding generation to increase in happiness, success and significance? I’ll give you a hint, the Bible never teaches such things.

In Joel’s reality our only limits are self-imposed. It does not matter if you live in the poorest ghetto in Haiti, or if you are horribly handicapped the only limits to life are those you place upon yourself. “If your thinking is limited, then your life is going to be limited.” (2) If that sounds like the old Norman Vincent Peale “power of positive thinking” you are correct!

At the start of each new day, remind yourself, ‘I am talented. I am creative. I am greatly favored by God. I am equipped. I am well able, I will see my dreams come to pass.’ Declare those statements by faith and before long, you will begin to see them in reality. (3)

Let me just briefly unpack this common thread through the entire book. This is also basic Word of Faith (WOF) cult doctrine “101.” It’s called “calling those things that be not as though they are, i.e. “fake it till you make it.” Hagin, Copeland, Capps, Savelle, Duplantis, Price and pappy Osteen all have taught this same error.

WOF dogma teaches that this world is ruled by spiritual laws and these laws will work for whoever will work them, child of God or child of the devil. Furthermore, the WOF cult teaches that faith is a force that we use to create our own reality. Understand — it is not faith in Jesus, it is faith in a spiritual force we wield and release by our words.

Joel is after all his father’s son, and all he has ever learned about the Bible has come through the lens of a Word of Faith heretic (John Osteen) which explains why his books are nothing more than warmed-over WOF dogma.

How can I say that? Simple! Joel begins with encouraging the readers to think positive thoughts. From here he will go in a few chapters to the next building- block of WOF error…positive confession. Once you have the image of what you want in your mind then you confess “faith-filled” words out of your mouth continually until you change your reality by the power of these faith-filled words. However, before getting to speaking the right words he has to deal with an uncomfortable fact, i.e. why does your life stink now? In Chapter 4 Joel teaches another bizarre WOF concept, that of generational curses. Again this a teaching I heard Marilyn Hickey teach at Robert Tilton’s church over 20 years ago, but Joel is reaching many folks who probably don’t know about generational curses.

This is the false teaching: that some believers problems stem from their family line passing a “curse” through the generations. Joel says” many times, you can look back and see the results of those choices somewhere in your family line.” (4) The proof texts these false teachers use are Ex. 20:5; 34:7 Num. 14:8; Deut. 5:9 and these texts basically say that God will curse the generation that hates Him to the third or fourth generation But let’s consider the rest of the context of these passages.

Notice that the curses are on those who hate God. It is not for those who love God, but make some mistakes in life. One might argue, however, that their father or grandfather might have hated God. This is irrelevant, but brings up the next point. Using a hyper-literalistic interpretation of this passage, if the Lord shows mercy for 1000’s of generations on the fathers who loved God, then all that would be necessary for us to be in the “mercy” rather than “cursed” category is to find one relative in the past thousand or so generations that loved and obeyed the Lord. Is it not probable that we have at least one distant relative in the last 1000 generations who loved the Lord and kept His commandments? The statistical probability is that we most certainly do. And if we do, then we are part of the 1000 generations the Lord promised to show mercy to, not curse. This notion is pure WOF heresy which Joel follows up by teaching in the next chapter on “Generational Blessing.” Joel says that we are to think of our good works in this fashion.

Think of it like this: Each of us has a spiritual bank account. By the way we live, we’re either storing up equity or storing up iniquity. Equity would be anything good: our integrity, our determination, our godliness. That’s storing up blessings…You have more of God’s favor, more of His blessing because of what they have done. (5)

Its almost like a Roman Catholic belief (Joel does not know that of course) of the storing up of meritorious favor by the saints that can be drawn upon by those on earth! If you come from godly parents and grandparents then they have been putting spiritual ducats into the family account, or as Oral Roberts might say “they’ve sown seeds and you’re reaping the harvest.” My father was a godly man but I doubt I can tap into some heavenly bank account and draw from his good work! Naturally Joel offers no contextual biblical proof for such a doctrine, but who cares, right? It sounds good and who doesn’t want a spiritual piggybank to draw upon?

In part two of the book Joel, having liberated the reader from negative self-talk marches on to encourage them to stop listening to accusing voices (negative words spoken to the reader). He says that it is imperative that you “learn to feel good about yourself.” (6) Anytime a criticism comes to you (or from your conscience) you are to cast it down immediately!

Don’t make the mistake of dwelling on that rubbish, not for a moment. Sometimes when I walk off the platform having spoken at Lakewood and around the world by means of television, the first thought that comes to my mind is, Joel that message just wasn’t good today. Nobody got anything out of that. You practically put them to sleep. I learned to shake that off. I turn it around and say, ‘No I believe it was good! I did my best…I thought it was good. (7)

Brothers and sisters one of the ways we grow is by receiving correction, by useful criticism. When we reject rebuke and correction then our spiritual growth is stunted. Proverbs clearly says:

Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. Prov. 1:30

He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. Prov. 15:31

A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool. Prov. 17:10

Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence; rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge. Prov. 19:25

Personally I want someone I respect and trust to tell me the truth when I have finished teaching or preaching. Maybe my message fell way short of the mark. Maybe I didn’t properly distinguish between Law & Gospel or took certain passages out of context. If I immediately reject any “negative” input then I will not grow and worse yet may lead those who hear farther from Jesus and not closer to Him. Joel’s guidance in this chapter is simply “if it seems remotely negative don’t listen to it!”

Chapter 8  entitled “Learning to Like Yourself” is more nauseating pabulum. Joel does not seem to get a fundamental message in the New Testament — the problem is not that people do not love themselves or like themselves, just the opposite, we love ourselves far too much!

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 1 Cor. 10:24

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Phil 2:4

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Heb. 13:16

All of this psycho-babble about people not loving themselves is recent nonsense which the Bible does not even address…because 99.9% of humanity has no problem loving numero uno.

Another one of Joel‘s glaring theological inadequacies is his lack of any real sense of our sinful fallen nature.

Shake off guilt, condemnation, inadequacies, and a sense that you can’t measure up, and start feeling good about who you are. ‘Well Joel, I don’t know if I believe that,’ a dear, well-meaning man told me. ‘We’re just poor old sinners.’ No, we used to be poor old sinners, but when we came to Christ, He washed away our sins. He made us new creatures. Now, we are no longer poor old sinners. (8)

This too is a WOF cult and general charismatic extremist point of view. They teach that we were sinners prior to salvation. Now in Christ we are the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21) and no longer sinners. They have no concept of the reality of being simil Justus et peccator which means we are simultaneously justified, and yet sinners. Both conditions are always true of us. We will fight against sinful inclinations our entire lives and by the means of grace God will be working in us progressive sanctification in this life. Joel is dangerously misleading his readers to encourage them to think they are no longer sinful.

Chapter 9 – is classic WOF/Positive Confession dogma and Joel has very subtly brought the reader from a place of thinking positive thoughts to now confessing these thoughts. What he says in this chapter is regularly proclaimed in any Ken Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Jesse Duplantis or Fred Price meeting.

As long as we have that poor self-image, we’re not going to experience God’s best. You will never rise above the image that you have of yourself. (9)

He restates the problem of humanity as he sees it but he fails to recognize one very salient point — God blesses us APART from what we do virtually all of the time! Grace, is the undeserved gift from God. We experienced God’s best (which by the way, Joel, is salvation by JESUS CHRIST alone) when we were haters of God.

For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Rom. 5:10

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, Col. 1:21-23a

In Joel’s warped view how are we supposed to overcome this self-image problem in order to experience God’s best? Simple! We speak positive words about ourselves!

One of the best ways that we can improve our self-image is with our words. Words are like seeds. They have creative power. 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 that way you see yourself. (10)

Our words do not have creative power. We cannot change reality by what we say. To believe such things is simply occultism and not Christianity. I’ve buried folks who died from AIDS confessing they were totally healed by the stripes of Jesus.

Positively or negatively, creative power resides in your words because you believe your words more than you believe anybody else’s. (11)

The WOF/extremist universe words are the most powerful things in the universe. They teach that God Himself created the universe not out of “nothing” (ex nihilo) but out of words that contained the force of faith to bring to pass whatever He said. They teach that since we are in His image we too have been given this same power. Negative words will produce bad results in our lives, they carry a sort of negative-faith. Positive words carry the force of faith in a fruitful direction creating whatever the wizard wielding the magic wand desires.

The sad thing is that Joel probably has not thought it through enough to realize what bondage such a belief system puts people under. If Joel is correct, then humanity is in the condition it is in simply because of not speaking the right words necessary to create a better life. All of his congregation’s problems fall squarely on their shoulders. Whatever their situation it is their fault.  The only way out is to begin to confess positive “faith-filled” words until your situation changes, which may take years…Remember just a few negative statements can dig up years of positive confessions and then the poor soul, like Sisyphus, is back at the beginning. What a horrific weight to place on the shoulders of God’s people.

No matter how impossible something looks, no matter how you feel, start boldly declaring, ‘I am strong in the Lord. I can do all things through Christ. I am well able to fulfill my destiny. Call in what God has promised you…Don’t merely use your words to describe your situation; use your words to change your situation….With our words, we can prophesy our own future. (12)

Notice God active in any of this? Who is the agent of change? Who determines your situation? Who is in control of your future?  Obviously, you are! God set these so-called spiritual “laws” in place and now we eat the good or bitter fruit from them apart from God.

I think you can see why Joel’s book is so immensely popular. It is all about self and works righteousness. Which all people love (yes even Christians). People love spiritual legalism in all its varied forms and dislike the orthodox biblical view of sola Christus, by Christ alone and looking to Him to do what we cannot do. That is too easy, we want to know “where’s my part in the play?” The point is this — salvation and all its benefits are monergistic, which means that God did all the work and we passively receive what He has done on our behalf. We add nothing to our salvation but thanksgiving to God for His great grace and mercy which He richly pours out on us through the sacrifice of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

The genius behind Joel’s writing is that he has encapsulated the basic tenets of WOF heresy into a format which does not come across as either charismatic in nature nor as something that has been taught by WOF heretics for over fifty years now. He has “spun” old false doctrines a new set of “Dr. Phil” clothing and is marketing it as a self-help book. The problem is that people will not genuinely be helped, in fact, many may end up in some serious bondage due to his lightweight version leading some readers to seek heavier teachings on the same concepts.

In closing, I will leave you with some simple biblical texts that will show you how to truly become a better you.

And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matt. 10:38,39

Then he said to them all; “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? Luke 9:23-25

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:24-25

You want to be a “better you” then take up your cross, follow Jesus (where) to Calvary and DIE to yourself. This dying (reckoning ourselves dead Rom. 6:11) is a daily process/struggle (we Lutherans like to urge one another to “remember your baptism”) that is how we become “better people” we become less SELF-INVOLVED and thus with ourselves off our hands we are freed up to love God and our neighbor more perfectly Jesus said seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and ALL the things the Gentiles seek after will be added to you (Matt. 6:33), something Joel does not mention. Instead of seeking the sphere of God’s rule he has his readers trying to conjure up a better self-image instead of one buried in the waters of baptism. He has people confessing how good they are as opposed to saying “God have mercy on me a poor miserable sinner.” He inflates human pride by a system of works-righteousness to our account. Frankly, Joel is fundamentally wrong regarding the major premises of each of his chapters. His biblical/doctrinal ignorance is truly appalling and I sincerely urge all of us to pray for him (and I will be writing and sending him a registered letter soon, I’ll let you know if he responds) and more importantly the 100,000’s of people who watch him on television and buy his books. Lord have mercy upon us! ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Osteen Joel, Become a Better You New York: A Free Press, 2007, p. 3

 2. Ibid. p.21

3. Ibid pp. 22 -22

4. Ibid. p. 49

5. Ibid. pp.56,66

6. Ibid. p. 85

7. Ibid. p.86

8. Ibid. pp. 101-102

9. Ibid p. 109

10. Ibid pp. 109-110 underlining and bolding added for emphasis.

11. Ibid. p. 11

12. Ibid pp. 113-114 underlining and bolding added.

Anyone else notice a “theme”? 7 steps to living at your full potential & now 7 keys to improving your life every day. Is it possible that Joel is using a ghost writer to pen these novels? If I was already achieving my full potential why should I read his latest book? It simply does not make sense to me?

 





A Smile, A Chair, and A Prayer For You at Lakewood

2 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2007 Vol. 12 Issue 11 – A Smile, A Chair, and A Prayer For You at Lakewood Joel & Victoria Osteen – On Larry King Live 10-16-07 – By Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

A Smile, A Chair, and A Prayer For You at Lakewood

Joel & Victoria Osteen – On Larry King Live 10-16-07

By Rev. Bob Liichow

 Wednesday evening I received a phone call from some good friends (hi Doug & Sherry) telling me that Larry King had quoted me on his program in talking to Joel & Victoria Osteen. Your humble heresy-hunter got a “global” mention! Our friends sent me a video of the program which I watched with great interest.

Frankly, I was hoping that Joel would do a better job this time in exalting our Lord Jesus Christ but again I was sadly disappointed. In the entire interview Joel mentioned Jesus exactly twice. Her is one of the two times he does mention Jesus:

KING: How do you feel about Mitt Romney and being a Mormon? Would that affect whether you vote for him or not?

J. OSTEEN: Well, you know what? I look at people, their character, their values, what they stand for. And I know only Mitt from watching him on your program and reading a couple of articles about him. And I don’t think that that would affect me. I’ve heard him say that he believes Jesus is his savior, just like I do. I’ve studied it deeply, and maybe people don’t agree with me, but I like to look at a person’s values and what they stand for. (1)

I almost fell out of my chair when Joel said that Romney believes that Jesus is his savior “just like I do.” Joel obviously does not even know the rudimentary facts concerning the Mormon cult. If he did then he would have known that Romney’s Jesus is really the spirit brother of Lucifer and that to the Mormons Jesus did not secure redemption for anyone per se. If Joel had some basic theological training he would probably know that Mormons consider themselves the only true Church. I am not sure what Joel is referring to when he says “I’ve studied it deeply” but it surely is not the beliefs of Mormonism.

This was the perfect time for Osteen to say something powerful to Larry about the biblical Jesus. He could have said “well Larry, the Mormon version of Jesus is not the biblical view. Mr. Romney and I do not believe in the same Jesus.” That would have no doubt piqued King’s interest and hopefully Joel could have then shared the biblical Jesus as Savior of sinners with Larry.

Osteen’s congregation has grown since I initially wrote about his first appearance on Larry King Live. At that time Lakewood Church was around 30,000 people in attendance, now it is close to 50,000 people each Sunday. The “sanctuary” holds 16,000 people and they hold 3 services on Sunday, including a fourth one in Spanish. One would imagine that with all those people coming out to listen to Joel preach that he would be continually striving to improve his biblical knowledge so he could adequately feed the souls of the hungry.

KING: Well, you’ve obviously affected a lot of people. The lack of formal biblical study, you did a brief stint at Oral Roberts University, right?

J. OSTEEN: Yes, sir.

KING: All right, a critic — this quote to — from Reverend Robert Liichow: “Joel Osteen has absolutely no biblical training or experience to be a pastor. Would you allow a surgeon to operate on you because he felt that he should be called a surgeon?”

J. OSTEEN: Well, I would think two things, Larry. One, I spent — I grew up in a preacher’s home. I spent 17 years working with my father. The second thing is the disciples that Jesus chose — his main 12 — one was a fisherman, a tax collector. They didn’t have any formal training, as well. The bible says that God chooses people that, you know, are not the most educated or the smartest, to confound other people. So I don’t know, It’s interesting to me that…

KING: So you are not reverend?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I am reverend. I am reverend. You don’t have to necessarily be — go into seminary to be a reverend. But I am — I’m a reverend from our church. But, I am.

KING: OK. No crosses on display at your church.

J. OSTEEN: Yes….

KING: The only church that I know — the Mormons don’t display crosses. (2)

Joel looked like a deer in headlights when Larry mentioned my name to him, he honestly looked like he was going to cry (I think my comments about his lack of education really bothers Joel—Goood!).

It is true that Joel did attend O.R.U., but what he studied was communications and not theology. In my previous article I made the case that it is not enough to be “called” to serve as a pastor. One may be called to a vocation of a doctor or architect, but that person has to develop that calling by gaining the required knowledge to fulfill their vocation.

How does Joel respond to my challenge? He gives two reasons why he believes he does not need any theological education. First, he grew up in the household of a famous charismatic extremist, John Osteen. He spent 17 years working with his father behind the scenes. If Joel’s father had been an airplane pilot are we to assume that Joel would know how to fly a jet? I guess this is theological education b osmosis! What is sad is because Joel does not have any formal biblical education he does not even know that much of what his father taught was false doctrine and in places rank heresy. All of Joel’s life he listened to spiritual poison, I know what I am saying since I come from the same background as his father and was schooled in and later taught the same garbage that John Osteen taught. Unfortunately, the doctrines he did learn from being around his dadf are aberrant.

His next defense is the tired old excuse of pointing to Jesus’ disciples and using them as examples of men without formal training. I beg to differ most strenuously with this type of thinking. Let’s consider the facts: (1) the 12 were handpicked by Jesus. Jesus did not just “call” these 12, they left everything and followed Jesus. (2) These men received hands on training from God the Son in person. From sun-up till they went to sleep, seven days a week (no Christmas or Easter break back then) these men lived with Jesus and were taught by Him. There is no seminary education that can compare with what the original disciples learned firsthand.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.   Acts 4:13

The religious leaders scoffed at Peter and John because they were not from the priestly tribe but they did take not that they had been with Jesus who was accepted as a peripatetic rabbi, i.e. a rabbi who taught as He walked along life’s way. Joel is correct to say that when Jesus initially chose the 12 they did not have formal training but when He breathed the Holy Spirit upon them (see John 20:22) three and a half years later they had the best theological training ever given to mankind!

Lastly Joel tries to make a case for biblical ignorance by saying “hey God chooses us ignorant folk to confound the educated one!” {my paraphrase}. Actually what the Bible says is:

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 1 Cor. 1:26

Paul is telling the Corinthians to think of what they were when God called them. According to the world’s standards they were nothing, yet it is the glory of God to take “nothing” and make something wonderful out of it.

Instead, God has chosen from the world those who seem foolish, weak, and helpless so that he might put to shame the wise and powerful by showing how temporary and insignificant to salvation their achievements are. In his grace he has showered his mercy on them and made them strong and wise in Christ. (3)

In the words of one of Joel’s father’s good friends, Kenneth Copeland “that dog won’t hunt.” Joel’s excuses are just that excuses. Here is a man worth millions of dollars, who is well paid by his “church” and espouses a belief in continual improvement…yet personally refuses to gain any further training for his vocation, it boggles my mind! Joel could easily afford a private personal tutor to educate him in the basics of theology, hermeneutics, Church history, biblical Greek, etc…Yet for some reason he has not yet done so. I know Joel must have read the following text:

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.   James 3:1

Doesn’t Joel realize that when he stands before 46,000 people in Houston and untold thousands more through television that his every word is being measured by a holy God? That one day he will have to give an account of what he has said (see Matt 12:36). How can Joel lead people into a biblical knowledge of Christ Jesus if he himself does not have such knowledge? The answer is — he cannot do so. When the blind lead the blind what happens? They all end up in the ditch of doctrinal ignorance and bondage (see Matt. 15:14).

In closing I repeat, I do not think that Joel is an “evil” person. I believe he is sincere, but like the Jews of old, his zeal is without knowledge (see Rom. 10:2) and the end result, as well intentioned as it might be, is not a good one. People must build their lives on solid biblical doctrine and not sand (see Matt. 7:24-27) in order to survive the storms of life which our enemy throws at us all.

I pray for him and I am sure he would make a fine neighbor {if I lived in a secured gated community of the ultra-wealthy as he & his family do}. Currently he is one of the most visible “preachers” in the world and he is in a position to do great good for the Kingdom of God. Possibly Satan has placed him in his exalted status in order to drag him down later and bring shame to the name of our Lord. Let us all pray for Joel that he will see the seriousness of being a pastor and that in seeing this, he will obtain a sound biblical base upon which to minister to God’s people.    Selah.

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. CNN LARRY KING LIVE Interview with Joel and Victoria Osteen Aired – October 16,2007 – 21:00 CNN.com – Transcripts

2. Ibid. Underlining added for emphasis.

3. Obtained from the NIV Bible Commentary on the Zondervan Reference CD Rom. Underlining added.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 140 other followers