Has Joel Osteen gotten better at talking about Jesus? A new survey of @JoelOsteen and his Newsletter.
6 months ago I wrote a post titled Joel Osteen Likes God…He just doesn’t like Jesus [A Twitter Survey of @JoelOsteen] It was a post critical of a particular idiosyncrasy that I discovered about Joel, namely his propensity to talk about God a lot, but essentially never, ever, ever mention Jesus. At the time I wrote this:
The gospel of Joel Osteen, the “good news” that he brings is that “God loves you and wants to save you from life of mediocrity and small dreams. Therefore, if you believe in God and be obedient to him, God will give you a plan for your life that includes big dreams, self esteem, favor, health and wealth, influence, a better job, a positive self image and a fulfilled life free of negativity”. That’s it. That’s what it’s all about. That is the sum of just about every book, every sermon, every media appearance, and every tweet of Joel Osteen, condensed into a few sentences.
That being said, there is something very important to understand about Joel Osteen: He does talk about God. A lot. You cannot accuse the man of not mentioning him because he’s all over that. Here’s the thing though- Its never really in a personal sense. Joel talks about God, but its always in a vague amorphous sense. There is certainly nothing distinctly Christian or Biblical about it. There’s nothing doctrinal or theological about the way he talks about God. Rather is an ethereal, shapeless, formless, customizable, singular being/thing that is out there called God that functions like a cosmic vending machine whose sole purpose is seemingly to bless you and make your life better. Even when he mentions God, it’s not ABOUT God, but it’s about what God can do for YOU.
Why do I say “singular being”? Simple. While mention of a “God” may be plastered all over his twitter feed, Jesus is Not. Joel Osteen rarely, if ever, mentioned Jesus. He rarely, if every, mentions Christ. This is true when you listen to his sermons, read his tweets, and listen to him on whatever talk show he’s touring.”
That was back then, examining his Twitter Feed from June 2013 to Mid July 2014. We found that out of some 806 tweets he mentioned God 334 times, but Jesus only three times. I further wrote
“Americans most influential pastor with the biggest Church [43,000 members]. One of the most well-known and most recognized pastors with the biggest platform, out of 806 tweets this last year, in a Twitter feed that is not about his personal life, but rather serves to communicate his version of theological truths about Christianity and Faith for his 2.6 million followers…Joel Osteen mentioned Jesus in some capacity 3 times.”
Well 6 months has passed since then and I thought I would do an update to see what Joel is up to. Not only would I check out his Twitter Feed, but for the last 6 months I’ve been receiving the Joel and Victoria Newsletter sent to my email, and we will be pulling data from that as well.
So what did we find? Well…. out of 368 tweets sent between July 17, 2014 and January 1, 2015, Joel Osteen mentioned “God” some 111 times. Want to know how many times he mentioned Jesus? Not once. Zero. I searched for the word “Christ” and I found 3 mentions. Sorta. Here they are:
Apart from the fact that his use of Philippians 4:13 has been grossly misappropriated and his misuse of it is so bad that it’s probably the reason why all the bees are dying all over the world, his utilization of of it is pure narcissism. Those tweets aren’t about Jesus- it’s about YOU and what YOU can do for YOURself. Jesus is there- sure- but’s he’s a footnote to prove a point- that you gotta be about yourself to get things done, and Jesus will cheer you on as you turn yourself into the best version of yourself that you want to be.
That’s two- where’s the third?
Its not really a third, but it’s as close as you’re gonna get. Yeah, if you thought that Joel would take the time to talk about Jesus at Christmas time….you haven’t been paying attention. God is welcome- but this is generally a “Jesus-free zone.” Oh he’ll talk about” blessing” and “favor” and “abundance” and “greatness” , but talk of Jesus..and his death and resurrection…his salvation…his shed blood and sin….the forgiveness he offers….his grace and mercy…his loving kindness- there’s nothing even remotely like that there.
But then for kicks I thought I would go into their newsletter and see what is to be found. I’d been getting it for months sent to my email [so you wouldn’t have to, haha] and here’s what I found.
Over a one month period, in the “Today’s Word from Joel and Victoria”, Joel Osteen mentioned “God” 89 times. He spoke of or mentioned the name of “Jesus” or “Christ” or “Yeshua”….0 times. Zero. Nada. Not even once by accident.
Now, in all fairness to Joel his little messages do start off with a Bible verse which was handpicked to be a pretext for whatever point he wanted to talk about. As for which versions he used, he used all of them interchanging them for whichever one had the right turn of phrases for whatever message he wanted to make. “ESV, NLT, ESV, ISV, NKJV, AMP, KJV, NASB”. So there is some Bible there which on one or two occasions those verses did mention “Jesus”, but it never in any way connected to the thrust of his messages and certainly never highlighted.
All this from the most famous and well-known Christian Pastor in America.
Like I said, Christ-less.
[Contributed by Dustin Germain]