I was up late last night with Larry King. He interviewed Joel Osteen and his wife, Victoria. For the first time in my life, I actually liked some things Joel said, and this interview gave me a new perspective on the Osteens.
1. A caller asked how much money he makes from the church, and he told the caller that he takes ZERO money from the church, and his only income is from outside sources, mainly from his books.
2. Larry asked if Joel saw any problem with a minister having lots of money. Joel said Abraham was a rich man, so was David and Solomon, yet they were men of God. Thus, he concluded, the key is whether “you have the money or the money has you.” He also admitted that Jesus wasn’t about money, and that Jesus lived for other people not himself and that we should follow his example. When someone put him on the spot and asked, “What causes do you give to?” He said he gives to many causes and quickly named two: Feed the Children, and Mercy Ministries. He says that’s why he thinks God blesses people—so that they can be a blessing to others.
3. My favorite part of the interview was this: Larry tells Joel that some people say he preaches a prosperity gospel, and Joel says he doesn’t like the term “prosperity gospel,” because, and I quote, “There’s only one gospel.” But what did Joel say that gospel was? That Christ died for us to make a way for salvation. Sounds very similar to what the average evangelical layperson would say.
4. When asked what he wants his legacy to be, he says he wants to be remember as someone who brought hope to the world and drew people closer in their walk with God.
I have to admit, I enjoyed hearing Joel talk about his faith. He’s got a contagious enthusiasm. I’m not saying he knows how to preach the Bible well, or that his hermeneutics are typically on point. From the interview, however, it appears that most of the worst things people say about him aren’t true.
If you think I’m wrong, give me your best shot. Point me to some direct quotations from Joel that prove he doesn’t believe in the gospel or somehow fundamentally contradicts it. Show me the worst possible quotations from the man’s lips you can find.
Larry’s show ended by showing his worship team singing Amazing Grace at a Lakewood worship service …
my chains are gone I’ve been set free
my god my savior has ransomed me
and like a flood, his mercy reigns
unending love, amazing grace
Larry King concludes, “What an inspiring Group.”