Joel Osteen, King Ahab & Delusional Celebrations

I just received an email from the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego inviting me to purchase tickets for “A Night of Hope” with Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen.

“A Night of Hope” with Joel and Victoria Osteen is an outreach of Joel Osteen Ministries and is an exciting time of praise and worship where attendees will hear an inspirational message from Joel and Victoria along with the electrifying music of Dove Award winning Cindy Cruse Ratcliff, Steve Crawford, Da’dra Greathouse, and the Lakewood Bandand Ensemble.

Joel and Victoria Osteen are pastors for a new generation.  Referred to by many as a voice of hope, they reach one of the largest audiences in the U.S. and across the globe. . . .”

Tempting as it may be, I think I’ll pass driving the 13 hours to San Diego to catch Joel and Victoria share their inspirational message of hope.  And, hope is what they are selling.  Literally.  It will cost you $15 to experience all that the Osteens have to offer.  While that doesn’t sound like much (the price or the offer), Joel and Victoria have found a way to sell hope to a “new generation.” 

It’s easy for these “pastors” to sell hope to a “new generation,” particularly when those who are members of this generation are largely Biblically illiterate.  Not that the Osteens are Bible scholars by any stretch of the imagination (just watch any of the painful interviews that the Osteens have given to Larry King), but they certainly know how to twist Scripture in such a way as give the illusion that the hope that they are selling is the real deal.

However, what the Osteens are selling is not real hope (Hope is, after all, a person — Jesus Christ).  And, the inspirational messages of hope that Joel and Victoria continue to peddle will not change the lives of those whose ears continue to be tickled.  The Apostle Paul would not be amused.

I do have to give credit to Mr. Osteen for his remarkable ability to communicate in such a way that most people who listen (in person and on television)  to him speak do not have any idea of just how horribly he butchers God’s Word.

I do not make it a habit to watch Joel Osteen, but I do occasionally linger on his show when I am channel surfing.  Every now and then, I like to watch for a few minutes — that is all I can really stomach — to see and hear how he has managed to rip Scripture out of context.  Such was the case earlier this week when I heard Joel so mangle the inerrant, inspired Word of God that he turned King Ahab into a man of faith!

Anyone with a passing knowledge of the Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures (which Joel or someone on his research staff should have) would quickly recognize that King Ahab was Israel’s most evil king:

“And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. . . . And Ahab made an Asherah.  Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.” 1 Kings 16:30, 33 (ESV) 

Ahab was a faithless king who worshipped the false god Baal.  With his blessing, Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, killed the LORD’s prophets.  No where in Scripture can you find a positive word concerning Ahab or Jezebel.  Well, that is until now.  Leave it to Joel Osteen to find an inspirational message about Ahab.

My wife and I could not believe what we heard come out of Mr. Osteen’s mouth.  Now granted, I have heard some pretty amazing (and non-Biblical) things spew forth from this man, but this was truly unbelievable.  I recorded the end of Joel’s message so that I would not misquote what he said about King Ahab.

Concluding his feel-good message, Mr. Osteen used the first part of 1 Kings 18:42 (“So Ahab went up to eat and to drink”) as his proof-text for arguing that Ahab was a man of faith, celebrating what God was about to do in his life.  In Joel’s mind, Ahab went out and “prepared a great feast.”  Why did he prepare this great feast?  Because he had faith in the word that the prophet Elijah had given to him, namely that it would begin to rain.  Given that Israel was in the midst of a 3 1/2 year drought, this was significant.

However, the context within which Elijah’s “word” came to Ahab was following the confrontation of Elijah with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel and slaughter of those prophets.  Elijah was mocking King Ahab, telling him to go get something to eat and drink before it started raining and the king got all wet.

No where in Scripture does it say that Ahab prepared a feast because he believed the word of Elijah that is was going to rain.  However, Joel Osteen so twists the Word of God to suit his own shallow purposes that he has turned Ahab into some sort of man of deep faith and conviction.  I wish I was making this up, but here are Joel’s own words:

“That took a lot of nerve to prepare a feast in the midst of the drought.  Other people complaining, negative, depressed, bitter.  Here’s Ahab over here celebrating.  This is what faith is all about.  You can’t wait to see it, then you’re going to believe.  You have to believe and then you’ll see it.  I’m asking you to do like Ahab.  Get your hopes up.  Start celebrating what God is about to do.”

I truly have never heard a supposedly Christian pastor exhort someone to “do like Ahab.”  What hope did Ahab have?  What celebration was there for this evil, wicked king?  Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, were opponents of the one true God — Yahweh — and they continued to oppose God’s prophet, Elijah.  How any of this was a cause of hope and celebration for Ahab is beyond my comprehension.

But, apparently not beyond Joel Osteen’s comprehension.  That neither Mr. Osteen nor anyone on his staff, including “Pastor” Victoria, could comprehend that using King Ahab as a positive example of faith is not only wrong, but spiritually deluded.  The reason for this delusion may just be that the Osteens are already following Joel’s advice to “do like Ahab (and Jezebel).  But, I don’t think that’s anything to celebrate!

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About Howell Scott

I have been a Southern Baptist pastor for the last fourteen years. Before entering the ministry, I was a practicing attorney in my homestate of Florida. I have been married to my wife, Brenda, for 18 years and we have three sons, Stephen, Jacob, and Andrew.
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12 Responses to Joel Osteen, King Ahab & Delusional Celebrations

  1. I won’t watch one of their “services” but I did catch a few quotes from the Larry King Show. But it does make sense to me that, in the last days, men would be led astray by strong delusions.

    Perhaps is it, that Osteen himself is bad news, but his presence among us is quite the opposite.

    • Howell Scott says:

      Bob,

      I hear what you’re saying. That folks like Osteen are out there should not surprise us. As you say, the end times will see these delusions increase. I just think that we need to call these so-called “Christian pastors” out when they spout such nonsense. Not much that Osteen says or does surprises me, but using King Ahab as a positive example of faith really takes the cake. Thanks for stopping by. God bless,

      Howell

      • Jillian says:

        Although Ahab was a sinful king, it doesn’t change the fact that he believed God’s Word in Elijah and did as he was instructed. That was the point Joel was trying to make. It may be better for him to have said something like, “if this sinful man believed…how much more should we as Christians…” But Joel’s example was not un-Biblical. The church should not rush to attack those who encourage the body of Christ. We must be careful not to rush into judgement for the sake of legalism. Was the purpose of your post truly to protect the church or were you simply rushing into a careless judgement of a brother?

  2. David Miller says:

    You can moderate this comment into oblivion, but if this post by some miracle appeared on the SBC Voices site as a “pending review” post on Monday or Tuesday, I would be thrilled.

    A friend of mine forwarded this to me and I read it and thought, “wow, this is really good.” I wondered who wrote it. I wanted to post it at Voices so I looked to find out who wrote it.

    Lo and behold I found the name and thought – I know that guy!

    • Howell Scott says:

      Dave,

      Consider yourself “thrilled.” I just got back from our church’s Valentine’s Banquet. I will try to post this at Voices for your review by the end of tonight. You can run with it whenever you see fit. It really is a small world that this got back to you via another friend. Hope you have a great Sunday! God bless,

      Howell

  3. Lord, how we need more preachers like Spurgeon in this pablum-driven generation.

  4. Jinx McHue says:

    Olsteen is a dangerous heretic. There can be no more doubt.

    • Howell Scott says:

      Jinx,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m not sure I really had any doubt about Osteen before I saw his “message” on Ahab. When he so twisted Scripture to make Ahab look like a man of faith who was celebrating what God was about to do (even as Elijah had just slaughtered the prophets of Baal), any such doubt should have been removed from every Bible-believing, Christ-centered Christian. The Apostle Paul had a word about those who replaced the true Gospel with a false Gospel — and the word was not nice. Thanks again and God bless,

      Howell

  5. s says:

    You “christains” are a very smug self-rightious cult aren’t you. Congrats on finding the one true magical scientific formula to salvation. Go kiss yourselves in the mirror. Joel is going to stay on and apparently continue to be a threat to those you are desperately attempting to brainwash into a cold reptile type doctrine where there is no room for human error or whatever.

    • Howell Scott says:

      S,

      Not sure exactly what you are talking about, but thanks for reading and commenting. Salvation is not a magical scientific forumla, but it does come through the truth of Jesus Christ and His great love that was demonstrated for all sinners on the Cross. I can’t brainwash anyone into believing anything, much less believing that the Bible is God’s Word and that it shows us the way we can be forgiven and come into a right relationship with the Creator of the Universe. If you would like to stop the name calling and dialogue further, I would be more than happy to try to answer any questions you might have. Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

  6. amos says:

    Love him, Jole, or hate him!
    Like it or not!
    Believe it or not!
    Joel Osteen’s a miracle!

    Joel changes peoples lives daily all over the world!

    How many lives have you, skeptics, changed, impacted, or won over to Christ?
    Stop whining and give credit where it’s due!

    Finally, there’s gotcha be reason(s) why he leads the largest church in US; you skeptics – of Joel – ought to find that out & let us know?

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