Victoria Osteen, wife of megachurch minister Joel Osteen and co-pastor of the Houston, Texas, Lakewood Church is under fire for comments being called blasphemous during a recent Sunday morning service.
They were captured on video and posted to YouTube.
Osteen, addressing the church’s large congregation as her husband stood by nodding his head in agreement, said, “I just want to encourage everyone of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God – I mean, that’s one way to look at it – we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy.
“So I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”
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While Osteen’s perspective on obedience and worship appears compatible with the theme of her latest book, “Love Your Life,” it’s out of step with the Bible, according to online critics.
Steve Camp, pastor of the Cross Church in Palm City, Florida, told Christian News Network Osteen’s words were essentially blasphemous.
“It’s the age old sin of idolatry – that it’s not about God, it’s about us,” he said. “True worship for the humanist is about how we feel at the end of the day and what gives us meaning, as opposed to what gives God glory.”
“She honestly believes that God exists to make us happy rather than holy,” Camp said. “She honestly believes that worship is about our fulfillment rather than His glory. That’s the bottom issue here.”
Camp continued: “First Corinthians so clearly says that whether we eat or drink, do it all to the glory of God. It’s not just self. Jesus said … in Matthew 16, ‘Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.’
“The Osteens have just inverted that. They think it’s not the denial of self, but the exaltation of self,” Camp said. “They’re not trying to pursue a cross; they’re trying to pursue prosperity. And they’re certainly not following the biblical Jesus. They’re following whatever brings happiness and contentment.”
Camp was not Osteen’s only critic.
Christian Post reported Desiring God writer Tony Reinke’s tweet: “Victoria Osteen: God’s glory and your joy are at odds.”
Erick Erickson, editor-in-chief of RedState.com, offered a quote from the 1995 movie, “Billy Madison”: “What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely, idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point, in your rambling, incoherent response, were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. May God have mercy on your soul.”
In what might be this week’s most severe criticism of the Osteens’ ministry came Thursday morning when Michael David Fletcher, 30, entered the bookstore at Lakewood Church and began knocking books off shelves, throwing books and overturning display stands, all the while refering to the Bible verse Matthew 21:12, reported Houston’s KHOU-TV News.
“Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.”
Fletcher was escorted out of the bookstore by security personnel who had to hold him down when he attempted to return. A felony charge of criminal mischief is pending.
“What’s the chief end of man? To bring glory to God and enjoy him forever,” said Camp, quoting from the Westminster Confession. “I think that’s the thing that’s been lost in our culture.
“The chief concern in this life is not us. The chief concern is that we bring glory to God, that we further His gospel, and that we testify of His grace. We’re here to do his bidding.”
Meanwhile, Joel Osteen himself raised eyebrows last year when he came out of the closet on the issue of homosexuality, saying God “absolutely” approves of everyone — including homosexuals.
HuffPo Live host Josh Zepps quoted from Osteen’s book, “Break Out! 5 Keys to Go Beyond Your Barriers and Live an Extraordinary Life”: “It doesn’t matter who likes you or who doesn’t like you, all that matters is God likes you. He accepts you, he approves of you.”
Zepps followed up by asking if that included homosexuals.
“Absolutely,” Osteen insisted, “I believe that God has breathed his life into every single person. We’re all on a journey. Nobody’s perfect.”
Osteen, who oversees a congregation of 45,000 followers, stated all people must be acknowledged for who they are and expressed reluctance to “categorize” sin.
“The Bible said a sin is pride, a sin is selfish ambition. We tend to pick out these certain things,” he said.
“But I believe every person is made in the image of God, and you have accept them as they are, on their journey. I’m not here to be preaching hate, pushing people down. I’m not here telling people what they’re doing wrong.”
Joel Osteen has said numerous times that he believes living a homosexual lifestyle is a sin in accordance with his understanding of Christian scripture.
In an appearance on Fox News Sunday in 2012, he discussed his position on homosexuality by telling host Chris Wallace that he “doesn’t dislike anybody” and believes gays are some of “most loving people in the world,” despite his strongly held conviction that homosexuality is a sin.
“I believe the Scripture says that being gay is a sin. But, you know, every time I say that, Chris … people say, well, you are a gay hater and you’re a gay basher,” Osteen told Wallace during the interview. “I’m not. I don’t – I don’t dislike anybody. Gays are some of the nicest, kindest, most loving people in the world. But my faith is based on what I believe the scripture says, and that’s the way I read the Scripture.”