Joel Osteen/Prosperity Gospel

I need some apologetics help, and I’m hoping that I can get some assistance from the forum. For reference, I’m currently going through RCIA, and I’ve been doing a lot of reading, but I’m not entirely knowledgeable about Catholicism yet.

My boyfriend was raised Catholic, but based on some discussions with him recently, I’m not sure how well he learned the catechism. He’s been involved in some protestant Bible study groups, and through that, has become a huge, huge fan of Joel Osteen. He keeps talking about some of the things he preaches, and I’m having a hard time articulating to him why I’m uncomfortable with Osteen and think he’s incompatible with Catholicism. I’ve tried explaining why the whole prosperity gospel idea is wrong, but I think I’m not really communicating things well because I’m still learning.

So, if anyone could help me put together a more coherent statement about why Osteen’s preaching, particularly about the prosperity gospel, is wrong and is contrary to Catholic beliefs, I’d really appreciate it. Right now, I’m struggling to articulate it, but I know in my gut what he’s saying is wrong. I just can’t figure out how to argue it.

0, 1 & 2.

Are the Bible & your brain not enough?

First of all…everyone has been searching. Joel Osteen is one awesome “preacher” and charismatic person.

The part I do not agree with - is that his philosophy takes God out of the question.

None of us on this earth know the whole of our lives and God wants us with him for eternity. If our desire is to gain heaven… Than every moment is ordained to that desire…whether it be poverty, illness, tragic circumstances.

We all must have total faith that EVERYTHING - no matter how awful can be “blessed” if we are willing to be faithful.

Please know I am not saying God brings awful circumstances to people…He allows and permits it. Would any parent do less if it meant the eternal “happiness” for their child.

John Piper is a Protestant, but I think he hits the mark perfectly about what is wrong with the prosperity gospel:

My personal dislike of Joel Osteen stems from both reports about how he and his wife treat staff and how utterly absent any real mention of the Bible or Christ in his sermons. It ends up being a New Agey pep rally that occasionally mentions Jesus in the hymn chorus and at the end of prayers. You also hear more praise about what a great church Lakewood is, and how great the members are than anything about God. Osteen himself has no theological training (he managed the church audio/visual department prior to his running the church), and instead inherited the preaching position after his father died.

Jesus had no theological training and inherited the position from his father too…

That said, one of the greatest issues with the prosperity gospel is it seems to claim that a homeless man who owned nothing except a garment, had no regular job and taught about the warnings of serving both money and God is somehow saying we should focus on material things as a great portion of our faith.

While Christ did give many good uses of money and expressed that we should use good business principles, the focus was building our treasure in heaven rather than on earth.

Finally, the prosperity gospel generally pulls those who are new in faith because it is tantalizing. If they truly grow in faith, it loses it’s luster pretty quickly.


Don’t argue against it. Replace Osteen. Start buying some Catholic dvds. Brant Pitre, Tim Staples, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, Steve Ray, etc. Then sit down with your boyfriend and watch them together. Keep reminding your boyfriend he is a member of the One True Church that you can’t wait to belong to.

Well, I thought the Osteen not being the son of God bit was obvious :rolleyes: :stuck_out_tongue:

I have a daughter who is also a big Osteen fan and a fan of some female minister whose name I can’t quite remember also–but they are very alike. I’m also from Houston, Tx and to say that Lakewood is a mega-church is almost an understatement. People actually stand in lines for seating there. Osteen built his reputation by basically telling people what they want to hear–be nice, be sweet, God wants you to be totally happy on earth and to have all the money and nice things your heart desires–you just have to believe and it’s as good as done. Don’t ask God–just tell Him what you want and then believe it’s already done–visualize it as done infact–and it will be done. If you aren’t getting what you want in this life or if you happen to get breast cancer–well, maybe you just need to smile a little broader and believe a little deeper—and by the way, here’s the collection plate. His wife is also an articulate little arm ornament or eye candy for him in my opinion. He epitomizes what we all wish we had here on earth–an attractive and charming spouse, nice healthy kids, a beautiful home in a good part of town, respect, some degree of power and so on. The problem is that what he preaches doesn’t mesh well with what Jesus said–that we should choose between treasures of this world and treasures amassed in heaven or picking up our cross and following Jesus. I certainly agree that asking God for “things” in a spirit of faith can work–but not always. Bad things do happen to good people and good things happen here on earth to some very bad people indeed. Osteen’s a lot like any other motivational speaker–you leave his “service” all pepped up and entertained and ready to take on the world–but there’s very little of substance beneath the surface to hold onto when you get home and find your electric bill still setting there waiting for you to pay it.:shrug:

I agree with you 100%…BTW I think the female minister you mentioned is Joyce Meyer.

And right YOU are-- it’s Joyce Meyers indeed! Last time I was home visiting in Houston, my daughter would record the show during the day while she worked and would listen to her around 9 or 10 p.m. before bed. The very sound of that woman’s voice almost makes my teeth ache–but since I was a guest in my daughter’s home, I let it pass. I always knew when it was my bedtime though–Joyce Meyers on–Grandma off! LOL!:thumbsup:

The argument I usually use against Word of Faith or otherwise “Name It and Claim It” Health and Wealth Prosperity Gospel types is this:

“God is not a vending machine.”


Thank you for all of your responses. :thumbsup:

Whenever someone is teaching from his own reasoning, there are going to be mistakes.
And when it comes to teaching the faith, there are going to be mistakes.
Joel is no exception. His teaching started in the 20th century not in the 1st century when the church started. (mistake #1)

Although the prosperity gospel is misleading, which is easy to see from Jesus’ own way of life while on earth (mistake #2), Joel does give hope in other ways to people, and he helps them to overcome their fears. On prosperity he is obviously diviating from the thoughts and way of Jesus. But there are other things that he says that are giving people encouragement in themselves and hope in overcoming their problems.

So if one is careful to separate the truth from the errors in his talks, he can do good.
This might be just the way that God is introduced into someone’s life, thru hope and encouragement. And from a little seed may come big things.

For those who believe in prosperity gospel, it will soon be discovered just what it is…disapointment…in one way or another. And even from this mistake they may go on to search for God where he really is.

May God bless and keep you. May God’s face shine on you. May God be kind to you and give you peace.

I’m maybe ignorant but I don’t see any logical to anyone to open a Church just Because, It may in the Bible( I don’t think so) But I’m not a Bible expert( I wish) but i have the same problem, not with Osteen, but with another “Church” they make great things, i have a good friend o mine to meet the love of his life in there, and they are great couple, my family love it, but to me, a nice pastor well educated, nice professionals music band, is to impressive, I love united states but seems to me, that this country is one of the biggest “new Churches maker” even the Hispanic to come here, find it easy to “open” a Church and they grove up really quick because “dollar donations” for example Mormons are everywhere now, they even have a big temples in my country, same with Jehovah’s Witness, i fell like many Churches use Jesus name and The Bible for they own business, And correct me if I’m wrong but Jesus is not a Franchise. Lets pray so people can find the truth.

Ask him how Luke 9:23-25 relates to a “prosperity gospel”.

I guess with me its the whole Protestant thing. Do you want to follow Joel and what he thinks and says. Or the Catholic Church and what Christ teaches and thinks. Its pretty simple really.

It’s less a case of it being a Protestant phenomenon or antithetical to Catholicism than it is simply being a fraud overall. Like most televangelists/mega-church pastors, Osteen is a fraud preaching a materialistic perversion of Christianity to attract followers and donations. Run, don’t walk, away from such people and movements.

Curious what makes his version of the bible any more true or false then yours, or any other Protestant Preacher?

Now speaking from the Catholic view, of course we reject all protest teaching. By the simple phrase where ifsyour authority to teach in the name of Christ.

If a Catholic says this is what the bible says, and another Catholic says no its says this. The Church says this is it, and thats it.
The Catholic obeys.
The authority was given to the Pope and Bishops to preach and teach in his name.

But my question is if you reject his teachings, thats fine and dandy but what authority does one protestant truth have over the other?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit