Victoria Osteen (patheos.com, public domain)
By Spencer D Gear
There are some things happening in the Christian world that have to be heard to be believed. What does it take to launch an uproar in the Christian community? Victoria Osteen, wife of pastor Joel Osteen, Lakewood Church, Houston, Texas, made one of the greatest clangers of theological ignorance that I’ve heard in a long while.
She told a large public gathering at that their mega-Lakewood Church:
I just want to encourage every one 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 are happy…. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy….
She continued: “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?”
And the congregational response was, ‘Amen’ (in Mohler 2014).
Take a listen to the Victoria Osteen clip HERE, followed by Bill Cosby’s confrontational comment, ‘That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life’.
What a blooper by Victoria Osteen! It has the Christian bloggers and writers at their keyboards (including me) pumping out some provocative negative and supportive responses. Take a read of a few of them:
- ‘Victoria Osteen Takes Worship of God to New Low: It’s All about You’ (crosswalk.com);
- ‘How I would say what Victoria Osteen said differently’ (Morgan Guyton);
- ‘Did Al Mohler Just Throw Happiness Overboard?’ (David Murray);
- ‘In defense of the prosperity gospel: Let’s cut Victoria Osteen some slack’ (Matt K Lewis);
- ‘Victoria Osteen Ripped for Telling Church “Just Do Good For Your Own Self”; Worship Is Not for God, “You’re Doing it for Yourself’ (Leonardo Blair);
- ‘In defense of Victoria Osteen’ (unsettled Christianity).
Osteen against the Scripture
Let’s check out the Scriptures to find how close Victoria Osteen came to declaring what God says about the highest responsibility of the individual and of the church?
Romans 15:5-6: ‘May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (NIV).
Ephesians 1:5-6: ‘he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves’.
Ephesians 1:12-14: ‘in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory’.
Ephesians 1:18: ‘I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people’.
Ephesians 3:21: ‘to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen’.
2 Thessalonians 1:12: ‘We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ’.
1 Peter 4:11, ‘If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen’.
Osteen says, ‘When we obey God, we’re not doing it for God…. 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’.
What anti-biblical baloney!
How does Osteen’s teaching compare with Scripture? According to the above Scriptures, we are to glorify the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to give him praise for his glory. To God be glory in the church. The person (name) of the Lord Jesus Christ is glorified in believers and we in him.
Now that is a radically different message to what Victoria Osteen proclaimed. She’s into pick-me-up, me-centred, positive thinking psychology and not God-glorifying worship. People should run a country mile from such self-centred opposition to what Scripture teaches.
Two scriptural clinchers are:
Romans 11:36: ‘For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen’.
1 Corinthians 10:31: ‘So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God’.
The summary of what the Bible teaches is in the first question of the Westminster Larger Catechism:
Q. 1. What is the chief and highest end of man?
The biblical teaching is crystal clear. In whatever you do, including obedience to God, you are to do it for the glory of God. But for Victoria Osteen, her teaching is radically opposed to that. She’s declaring on a TV and Internet program that which is opposed to what God says. Osteen’s sprouting, ‘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’, is junk theology. I declare it as such, with solid Scriptural support.
What does that make Victoria Osteen?
Out of Victoria Osteen’s mouth has come false teaching that is humanistic and contrary to Scripture. What does Scripture say we are to do with false teachers? Take a read of Galatians 5:7-12 (NIV):
7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
My application to Victoria Osteen (based on this passage) is:
Osteen’s false teaching is like yeast that contaminates the Christian community. It is sewing weeds among the good seed (see Matt 13:36-43).
With the exposure of Osteen’s false teaching by discerning believers, I am confident that evangelical Christians will see her promotion of a false view of God and cling to the orthodox teaching of glorifying God in all things they do.
Victoria Osteen, in my view, has extended the meaning of ‘selfie’. I wish she would go the whole hog, leave the church, and take her message into the self-help psychology classroom. It does not belong in the church or on Christian media.
Victoria Osteen responds
(image courtesy PublicDomainPictures.net)
Victoria Osteen’s me-centred, worship is for me, is theological junk. ‘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’ is Osteen generated false teaching. I do not find Osteen’s response to be satisfactory in correcting her humanistic view of worship.
Albert Mohler put it precisely: ‘If our message cannot be preached with credibility in Mosul, it should not be preached in Houston. That is the Osteen Predicament’ (Mohler 2014).
The Scriptural view is: ‘So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God’ (1 Cor 10:31).
There is some excellent teaching on the content of false teaching in this article from IVP New Testament Commentaries on Galatians 5: ‘Exposing the false teachers’.
Why don’t you take a read of this assessment of Victoria Osteen’s teaching by Albert Mohler, ‘The Osteen Predicament — Mere Happiness Cannot Bear the Weight of the Gospel‘.
Mohler Jr, R A 2014. The Osteen Predicament — Mere Happiness Cannot Bear the Weight of the Gospel (online), September 3. Available at: http://www.albertmohler.com/2014/09/03/the-osteen-predicament-mere-happiness-cannot-bear-the-weight-of-the-gospel/ (Accessed 4 September 2014).
 The Scriptural references given were Romans 11:36 and 1 Corinthians 10:31.
 Scriptural support given was in Psalm 73:24-28; John 17:21-13.
Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 April 2016.