Watch the full version of the 60 Minutes interview with Joel Osteen (14 Oct. 2007), complete with Dr. Horton’s brief critique of Osteen’s “prosperity gospel.”
A short portion of the full, 11-minute interview, including Dr. Horton’s critique of Osteen’s “cotton candy gospel” can be seen in this clip:
According to the Scriptures, there is no “prosperity,” blessing, hope, etc. without payment for sin, specifically, payment with blood.
Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22 ESV).
We cannot receive God’s blessing without first knowing God’s condemnation. God’s law clearly condemns all people as morally culpable (Romans 1-3). The wonder of the Gospel is that God incarnated Himself in Jesus Christ to come and bear sin’s curse on behalf of His people. Contrary to Osteen’s message of exclusive blessing, the Scriptures clearly teach that humiliation must come before exaltation, or else even Jesus’ coming to earth would not make any sense. Accordingly, when the apostle Paul reminds the Corinthians what the Gospel is, he speaks first not about blessing, prosperity, and the like, but of Christ’s death:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-3 ESV).
If Christ’s humiliation unto death is of “first importance” to Paul, no preacher of the Gospel can skip this point. Doing so makes one not a preacher of the Gospel, but a proclaimer of lies and a purveyor of curses. For, God does not and cannot promise to bless without first dealing with humanity’s moral guilt from sin. God has done so on the cross. And so Paul says:
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. …but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles (1 Corinthians 1:17, 23 ESV).
Though the Gospel is more (much more) than Christ’s incarnation and death, it is not less. Without “Christ crucified” for sin, there is no Good News to preach. When it comes to the Gospel, half right is fully wrong; Osteen’s messages are Pelagian, not Christian.