Joel Osteen Warms Up for ‘Night of Hope’ in DC


Joel Osteen was in the Nation’s Capital last night. The popular pastor of Houston’s Lakewood Church threw out the first pitch at a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the visiting Houston Astros.

Osteen, who boasts the nation’s largest congregation, running more than 43,000 worshippers through his megachurch every weekend, will return to D.C. at the end of the April when he holds his fourth annual “Night of Hope” at National’s Park.

Not since evangelist Billy Graham has an American pastor so regularly filled arenas and stadia throughout the country.

Osteen finds the ballpark an ideal backdrop for a spirit-filled evening of  “hope, worship and encouragement.” After all, he said, “Baseball’s about perseverance and letting go of the night before when it didn’t work out.”

Moreover, he said, America’s Favorite Pastime is “about family and spending time together.”

Of course, Pastor Osteen, blessed with a successful television ministry, highly-favored with several best-selling books, could not have risen to such prominence as a faith leader without attracting his share of haters.

In fact, more than a few of those actually hail from the faith community.

Like Michael Horton, a professor at Westminster SeminaryCalifornia, who accused Osteen of “heresy” on “60 Minutes” because of the way the Christian pastor teaches the Gospel.

Like Robert Liichow, founder of Discernment Ministry International, who disparaged Osteen’s uplifting sermons as “spiritual twinkies” that will “rot (believers) from the inside out.”

When I hear and read criticisms of Osteen by theologian types like Horton and Liichow, I am reminded of the Pharisees whom, the Gospels tell us, were critical of Jesus, who referred to them as a “brood of vipers.”

Osteen, who I met several years ago, did not go to seminary school, did not receive a Ph.D in theology. But he was trained up by his late father, John, who foundedLakewoodChurchback in 1959, who grew it into a congregation of 6,000, who launched its television ministry.

In 1999, John Osteen went to be with the Lord. And son Joel took over the ministry his father had started up 40 years earlier.

Joel Osteen doesn’t preach fire and brimstone, doesn’t preach hell and damnation like his daddy used to. And that’s why detractors, like Horton, like Liichow, think him spiritually soft.

It doesn’t bother Osteen. “I tell people all the time,” he said, “you can’t have faith if you don’t have hope.” Yes, he said, “People sometimes criticize me, (saying) ‘you are too positive.’ But you’ve gotta have hope. Even if it doesn’t happen today, I am one day closer to seeing it happen.”

I am persuaded that Joel Osteen has been anointed by the Lord to preach the Good News in our time. I believe his simple message of hope, worship and encouragement has a power that his detractors cannot fathom.

And I am convinced that the success Pastor Osteen has enjoyed – with his church, his television ministry, his books and his stadium events – are a testament that the Holy Spirit is with him.

This entry was published on April 17, 2012 at 9:36 AM. It’s filed under CHRISTIAN LEADERS and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “Joel Osteen Warms Up for ‘Night of Hope’ in DC

  1. Yes- I disagree. Osteen is not bringing lost souls into the kingdom because he does not present the gospel. The fact that he adds a mass recitation of the sinners prayer at the end of his pep talk does not mean he is winning souls. By avoiding the ‘hard part’ of the gospel (sin righteousness & judgment) he fails to bring sinners to repentance. Without repentance there can be no true conversions. By preaching a false gospel he is making false converts, people who believe they are saved but aren’t

    • Steve, the Scripture tells us there are various gifts of the Spirit. And that different believers receive different gifts. I absolutely appreciate pastors who powerfully present the Gospel, supporting their message with Scriptural citations, encouraging their congregations to bookmark the citation in their Bibles. But I also appreciate a pastor like Joel Osteen, who presents a gently presents the Gospel message. I believe he wins over lost souls who are not ready, initially, for Master’s- or Ph.D-level theology, but are receptive to Osteen’s simple introduction to the Gospel.

  2. Jude instructs us to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. When men like Horton and Liichow do that, why are they characterized as “haters”? Is it hateful to desire that Osteen deliver the true gospel rather than the ear tickling self help moralism he prefers.

    It’s not, as you say, the way he teaches the gospel. It’s what he’s teaching that’s the problem. A true minister of the gospel is required to present the whole counsel of God. Osteen doesn’t like the sin. righteousness and judgment part. Those things are too negative. He thinks people don’t need to hear that part. He omits the law and thereby preaches a false gospel that cannot save.

    To be a true witness, one must always present law and grace. The law without grace makes people mad but grace without law makes false converts. It is a form of Godliness that has no power and it’s not hateful to point that out.

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