In defense of Joel Osteen

Published 10:03 am Saturday, June 19, 2010

I like Joel Osteen. I have for a long time.

It is neither something I’m ashamed of nor something I feel the need to apologize for.

For those of you who may not follow Christian ministry, Osteen is the pastor of Lakewood Church in Texas which is believed to be the largest and fastest growing church in America.

On July 16, 2005 after completing $95 million in renovations, Lakewood Church moved into its new 16,000-seat home – the former Compaq Center.

Osteen may be the most widely criticized pastor in America as well. It has almost become fashionable for even Christians to jump up and down on him because of his belief in preaching the love of God.

I went on Joel’s website and this is a list of what he believes and what Lakewood Church believes.

* the entire Bible is inspired by God, without error and the authority on which we base our faith, conduct and doctrine.

* in one God who exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to this earth as Savior of the world.

* Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood for our sins. We believe that salvation is found by placing our faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross. We believe Jesus rose from the dead and is coming again.

* water baptism is a symbol of the cleansing power of the blood of Christ and a testimony to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

* in the regular taking of Communion as an act of remembering what the Lord Jesus did for us on the cross.

* every believer should be in a growing relationship with Jesus by obeying God’s Word, yielding to the Holy Spirit and by being conformed to the image of Christ.

* as children of God, we are overcomers and more than conquerors and God intends for each of us to experience the abundant life He has in store for us.

As I looked through the doctrines, I couldn’t find one that was a problem for me.

There have been accusations that he sidestepped a question by Larry King about Christianity being the only true faith. Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t, but I think it’s clear that he knows the truth of Christianity.

My Associate Pastor, the Rev. Webb Hoggard, said during a sermon one Sunday that Christianity is the only army that shoots its own wounded. That’s far too close to the truth.

It may also be the only army in which leaders and rank-and-file members look to undermine other leaders.

It is sometime in vogue to proverbially jump up and down on the leaders of the faith and I think it’s something that should stop. I won’t participate in it and I wish a lot of other people of faith would do the same.

Thadd White is Staff Writer and Sports Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached via email at or by telephone at 332-7211.