Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2005 3:10 PM
Subject: JOEL OSTEEN: "ON GOOD AUTHORITY" [06/28--2005]

Somewhere out there in "Internutdom" -- wherein we are informed by James White's latest blog that there is "Pure insanity out there in the blog and web-board world. Almost nothing worth even noting" -- in Googling for anything about Joel Osteen, I saw where at least one (maybe more), of our dearly beloved, sound-in-the-faith-once-delivered by the Westminster Assembly of Pedobaptist Divines, Calvinist brethren was indicting Joel Osteen of Houston's Lakewood Church for preaching a "false gospel."

I am happy to now report that I have it on some very good authority that such is not necessarily the case, according to my very, very reliable sources. These are not merely the "sources say" variety, but these are quotable sources, legitimate sources, and regarded by us as reliable sources.


First of all, my longtime friend who used to live in Pasadena and fellowshipped with us on a very regular basis -- Brother Al Smith, now of the greater Atlanta area -- was recently back home for a visit with his Mom. It was also an even greater blessing that Brother Al brought along his lovely wife, Loretta, and beautiful daughter, Lori. Al had previously arranged with our close mutual and longtime friend, Brother Von Johnson, to take us for a tour of the large local TV2 station where Brother Johnson is the business manager. Afterwards, Brother Al treated all of us to a great meal at one of the nearby west Houston restaurants.

Brother Al is such a great friend of mine that I categorize him as one of my "finger friends," which are those friends whose names I would gladly have tattooed on my fingers -- if I believed in tattoos. He is only one of a very few people to whom I have donated a large, framed portrait of C. H. Spurgeon, and he has it hanging in his study in the wonderful house he built several years ago out in the country near Canton, Georgia -- an area where you can get free truckloads of Kudzu anytime during the "green" season. It has been our pleasure to spend several days and nights in Brother Smith's home several times over the years, especially when we would be in Atlanta for the Christian Booksellers Association.

In his younger and unmarried days, Brother Al providentially came into contact with Loretta through their mutual interest in one of Spurgeon's sermon volumes which we had published,  so you know he has more than one reason for being a great lover of Spurgeon. Brother Al is so sound and strong in the faith, I would probably believe him if he told me that Kudzu makes a great additive to your mess of mustard greens and collards!

Anyway, Brother Al has given us his "seal of approval" on Brother Joel Osteen. While on this June trip to the Houston area, Brother Al made it a point to personally check-out Joel Osteen. This was no more than two weeks ago and right across the ship channel just north of us at the Lakewood Church services. In an email report to me about his visit to Joel's place, Brother Al gives this eyewitness testimony --

"I was skeptical, but my skepticism quickly changed to affirmation." Al then goes into some detail describing the services, and says, "The entire service was a great blessing, one that I won't soon forget.   What an honor and blessing it is for Houston for Joel Osteen to call Houston his 'international' home.  It is my feeling that the best and brightest days are ahead for Lakewood Church!" 

Anyone who knows Brother Al Smith would know that if he puts his seal of approval on something, it must really be "for real." My brotherhood and fellowship with Al date back to the early 1970s when he was one of our very first customers at Pilgrim Book Store. It is people like Al that have made our work worthwhile.


If one Al is not enough, what about adding another Al? This is Dr. R. Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, the most historic, prestigious Baptist ministerial institution in the world.

On his website, Dr. Mohler has recently published a second article about Joel Osteen, and in that article he says:

Mr. Osteen's statement is encouraging on several fronts. First, it is encouraging to know that the constituency of Joel Osteen Ministries was so upset about the interview. Second, Mr. Osteen's statement includes a clear and unambiguous affirmation of the exclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
>> .<

That probably won't set too well with some of the "Internut" gnat-strainers and nitpickers who seem to be out for Joel's blood, but we like what Dr. Mohler has said. It reaffirms our own evaluation of Joel and justifies our refusal to become one of the anti-Joel crowd simply over some peripheral differences.

Seeing how we believe Dr. Al Mohler is beyond any question the most significant Calvinist figure among Baptist educators and theologians of this age, and seeing how we know that Dr. Al is one of the greatest admirers of C. H. Spurgeon, we don't see how Joel could possibly receive any higher commendation from a Calvinistic Baptist source.

Unfortunately, some of our Calvinist brethren seem to be overly concerned about the "jots and tittles" of categorical, theoretical theology, and they leave the impression that they are afraid that some of "elect" may be deceived, or that some of the "non-elect" might become worse than just being "dead in trespasses and sins."

But if they believe in the Sovereignty of God, as they profess, what should they fear? God has proven time and time again that He can save souls despite the flaws and lack of absolute perfection on the part of the messenger. Didn't He save multitudes in England under the preaching of the staunchly Arminian Wesley brothers? So what if one does not always precisely pronounce the theological shibboleths? God can still "strike a straight blow with a crooked stick."

While some of our Calvinist brethren are relishing and fulfilling their theologically sound, straight-and-narrow ministries with their group of elect souls whose spiritual diets and appetites are ordinarily salivating exclusively for the Calvinistic exposition of the "doctrines of grace," I think they should remember what the greatest of all the Calvinistic Baptists -- C. H. Spurgeon -- said:

I believe, most firmly, in the doctrines commonly called Calvinistic, and I hold them to be very fraught  with comfort to God's people; but if any man shall say that the preaching of these is the whole of the preaching of the gospel, I am at issue with m him.

Brethren, you may preach those doctrines as long as you like, and yet fail to preach the gospel; and I will go further, and affirm that some who have even denied those truths, to our great grief, have nevertheless been gospel preachers for all that, and God has saved souls by their ministry. . . Preach Christ, young man, if you want to win souls. Preach all the ooctrines, too, for the building up of believers, but still the main business is to preach Jesus who came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost. . . This simple truth, that “Jesus Christ has come to seek and to save that which is lost,” and that “whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting lifemust be your jewel, your treasure, your life.>>
[Quotations above from sermon #786 — The Great Mystery of Godliness, MTP Vol 13, Year 1867,
1 Timothy 3:16]

"C. H. Spurgeon earnestly exhorted those who had accepted Christ as their Saviour to come forward amongst his people and avow their attachment to His person and name. Words of kindly encouragement and of loving persuasiveness, were addressed to the timid and retiring ones, who feared to avow themselves to be the Lord's lest they should fall back into sin and dishonor His name. This was followed by an appeal to those who had confessed the name of Jesus — an appeal of so stirring and searching a nature, that many must have felt constrained to say, 'Lord what wilt thou have me to do?' Prayer for more earnest living, abiding, practical godliness, followed this address." — The Sword and The Trowel Magazine, 1865, page. 70 .

Spurgeon's success in preaching the "simple Gospel" made him the object of resentment, jealousy, criticism, and even cynical ridicule by some of the "ultraists" among the Baptists, or "high Calvinists." At least one of the notable Baptist leaders of the time even questioned Spurgeon's conversion!

Spurgeon said in one of his New Park Street sermons -- and I think it may still be the case today --

"I do not hesitate to say, that Phariseeism is mixed with Hyper-Calvinism more than with any other sect in the world" (New Park Street Pulpit, Year 1860, #336 — STRUGGLES OF CONSCIENCE, page 403).

-- Bob L. Ross

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P.S.  Televsion does not do the service justice!  I have never been in a church where the people sing like they mean it!  As far as
Joel's ''theology" he does have Bible for what he teaches and preaches. It won't be long and the Compaq Center will be running
over.  People get beat up all week long ( sometimes all their life)  the last thing they need is to go to church "into the sanctuary of
God"  and  hear how bad they are, and how wrong they are!!!  After all, the gospel is the "Good News"


Mr. Osteen's statement is encouraging on several fronts. First, it is encouraging to know that the constituency of Joel Osteen Ministries was so upset about the interview. Second, Mr. Osteen's statement includes a clear and unambiguous affirmation of the exclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.