Joel Osteen’s Hollow Candy Shell
By Jeff Laird
Imagine buying a bag of M&Ms, only to find out each and every piece was nothing but a hollow candy shell. Those sweets may look like M&Ms, but they’re missing the most important part. The whole point of the candy shell is to cover the chocolate, to get it into your mouth without melting. M&Ms without that core are empty, incomplete, and ultimately unsatisfying. Not to mention fake. Those lacking experience with real M&Ms would be especially prone to buying the hollow version. All the while, they’d assume what they have is as good as M&Ms get. Hollow M&Ms aren’t “opposed” to real M&Ms. They’re pretty. But they’re drastically incomplete, and likely to turn people off, once they realize how insubstantial they really are.
Unfortunately, there exists a product, currently available on the “spiritual market”, which is much like these theoretical, hollow M&Ms. Those who peddle it are extremely popular, even with Christians who ought to know better. In fact, these peddlers are so popular, and their product so attractive, that those who object to the hollow shell are met with hostility and anger. I’m expecting as much in response to this. But, as much as it might offend those who like his message, I have to say the foremost peddler of an empty, lookalike faith is none other than…
Osteen’s message is superficially Christian, but that’s it. All shell, no substance. When you don’t talk about sin or even doctrine — and he purposefully does not — you’re not preaching the Gospel. When there’s no need for redemption, forgiveness, repentance, or submission, then there is no Gospel. In fact, much of what he says can easily be misinterpreted as an excuse to persist in sin — because it says God loves everything about us and we’re perfect just the way we are. When you barely — if ever — call sin what it is, you’re not helping anyone, least of all the sinner (2 Corinthians 4:3).
To be milquetoast on social issues is bad enough, But Osteen even has a hard time with the basics of the Gospel, as so famously demonstrated in his disastrous 2005 interview with Larry King (emphasis mine):
KING: What if you’re Jewish or Muslim, you don’t accept Christ at all?
OSTEEN: You know, I’m very careful about saying who would and wouldn’t go to heaven. I don’t know…
KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They’re wrong, aren’t they?
OSTEEN: Well, I don’t know if I believe they’re wrong. I believe here’s what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God will judge a person’s heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don’t know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don’t know. I’ve seen their sincerity. So I don’t know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.
This is not a new convert speaking, it’s the leader of a church of tens of thousands. He couldn’t bring himself to support a fundamental doctrine of the faith he claims to be preaching. His words were not only blatant relativism, but profoundly poor Biblical scholarship…
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