It may seem foolish to disagree theologically with the man who pastors the largest congregation in America. Thirty-thousand adults attend Joel Osteen’s church every Sunday. Millions more tune in to his national and international television broadcasts. Certainly (one might assume) a man with this incredible following must be on the right track. Joel Osteen’s book, Your Best Life Now, is even endorsed by well-known Christian leaders like Max Lucado and Pat Robertson. And if that were not enough to dissuade me from taking issue with Osteen’s teaching, who in his right mind would want to argue with karate-man Chuck Norris, who also commends Osteen’s book?
Nevertheless, here is my view in a nutshell: If you want to read a book in which discontentment is encouraged, a book that shows God to be powerless apart from your power-filled thoughts and words, a book in which sin is minimized and renamed in every conceivable way, and a supposedly Christian book that gives only trivial mention to Jesus Christ, Your Best Life Now is the book for you. But if you believe, with the Apostle Paul, that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6 NKJV)1, if you desire a deeper and more biblical understanding of God and His ways, if you desire to see Jesus Christ exalted in your life as you follow His pattern of humility and self-denial, if you believe a Christian’s greatest hunger should be for righteousness (Matt. 5:6) and not for money, health, or easy living, then you would do well to look elsewhere.
To be fair, I must admit that Joel Osteen does give some good counsel, particularly in the second half of the book (Parts 4-7). For instance, in Part 6 (chapters 25-29) Osteen’s instruction on giving is quite sound. He makes some excellent points about “Being a Person of Integrity” in chapter 31. In fact, if Parts 4-7 were somehow detached from Parts 1-3 and published as a separate book, it would be relatively harmless. But in Your Best Life Now, constructed as it is, the best of the worst comes first. A discerning friend of mine recently returned the book for a refund after reading just five pages.