Joel Osteen’s much anticipated new book has just recently hit store shelves, promising seven keys to improving yourself. Those who may still be unfamiliar with Osteen may glance at his book on display in the mall and think, “Oh, another self-help book by one of those slick motivational speakers.” It might surprise them to find out he actually is the Pastor/Shepherd of the nation’s largest flock of professing Christian believers at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. Don’t worry, many discerning Christians who have listened to or read any of his works are equally surprised that he calls himself a Pastor. Joel Osteen has never attended seminary nor has he studied theology. He doesn’t truly teach or preach. By his own admission, these traits are not his gifting! He spends his time behind the podium exhorting and encouraging. So, what’s wrong with that? I’ll let Dr. Michael Horton of Westminster Seminary California and host of the White Horse Inn radio broadcast explain in this excellent article reviewing Become a Better You. Here is an excerpt:
It is indeed true that there are appeals to the Bible scattered throughout this book. However, in nearly every case a verse is either torn from its context and turned into a “fortune-cookie” kind of promise that one can name-and-claim for oneself or it is actually misquoted to serve Osteen’s point. For example, we read that when God confronted Adam and Eve after their sin, “He said, ‘Adam, who told you that you were naked?’ In other words, ‘Who told you that something was wrong with you?’ God immediately knew the enemy had been talking to them. God is saying to you today, ‘Who told you that you don’t have what it takes to succeed?'”3 Where, in the passage he refers to (Genesis 3:11), God asks Adam this question in order to convict him of his sin, Osteen makes it sound as if it were Satan who told Adam that he had failed the test. As in his earlier book, Osteen here never speaks of sin as falling short of God’s glory, but of falling short of God’s best for your life. In fact, Osteen’s attachment to the prosperity gospel is even more explicit in Become a Better You. Just as Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, and other “faith teachers” speak of believers as “little gods” who share God’s nature, Osteen has an entire chapter devoted to “The Power of Your Bloodline.” “You have the DNA of Almighty God.”4 It’s “what’s in you” that is divine seed, he says.5 It is not that God has imputed Christ’s righteousness to us and adopted us as his children. We are not saved by an external and alien righteousness, but by an internal and essential righteousness that belongs to us simply by virtue of our being created in his image. Therefore, throughout the book Osteen can address all of his readers as semi-divine without any reference to faith in Christ.