“It’s Your Time”: the Latest Refuse from Joel Osteen


It has been said, “Never judge a book by it’s cover.”  Yet even alone, some book covers cause so much difficulty they require special notice.  After all, many more people are influenced by the cover of books as they glance over a bookstores wares than who actually read them.  Last week (November 3, 2009), a “new” installment of the tripe that Joel Osteen calls “truth” graced the shelves of bookstores across the country.  Having written two best-sellers that are essentially carbon copies of one another, any wise entrepeneur would make the third attempt to repackage the same refuse and sell it yet again.

Along with such infamous speakers as Joyce Meyer and Creflo Dollar, the message of Joel Osteen is what has been called the “prosperity gospel” or “prosperity theology,” which encourages its followers to pray hard, work hard, and believe hard, the result of which is wealth, health, and the fulfillment of every wonderful dream.  The prosperity message is uplifting, inspiring, and hopeful.  The only trouble is once it is taken from the pew into the real world, the cardboard facade becomes quickly weathered to reveal the emptiness inside.  Built within the doctrine is the reason for its success: you have just not believed hard enough.  So thousands of people live their lives during the week, more and more discouraged the further they get from Sunday until again the sit in the soft and luxurious stadium of Lakewood church and hear Osteen once again tell them to work harder and all their dreams will come true.

Immediately from the front cover, Joel hedges on blasphemy.  In typical fashion, the title It’s Your Time is supported by Osteen’s main star: his fortuitous self.  Osteen regularly puts himself on the platform as proof that what he says is true.  Interestingly enough, as a pastor, the more logical way to prove your point would be to make it from Scripture.  Even when he does use the Bible it is completely out of context and as he does so completely eliminates the truth that the passage or verse was intended to present.  Not only do we get one fantastic picture of the man himself as the proof of the “truth” he peddles, but his photograph on the cover depicts an almost trinitarian Osteen: three images overlaid one over the other.

Then there is the subtitle: “Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Increase in God’s Favor.”  Other than the incidental words “faith” and “God’s,” one would think that this book could likely have been written by any sort of motivational speaker pushing the next great fix.  Yet with those two words, the game is totally changed and it causes the author to have the weight and responsibility of sharing solid, grounded biblical teaching.  While Osteen has admitted in interviews that he sees himself more as a life coach (also testified by the “related services” entry to the Amazon.com listing for the book), he continues to choose to function as a pastor, a position that comes with it the explicit weight of the appropriate use and teaching of the Bible.  Why would he consider a career change, though?  Is it not this propagation of lies that has brought him his wealth and acclaim?

Though I have not read the book (making this a “book cover review”), the number of lies and empty promises just on the outside of the book give it a sufficient enough stink.  To get a clue about if this is likely in the book, take a look at the back cover:

I don’t know where you are headed, what your dreams are, or how many obstacles you have to overcome.  But I encourage you to let these words reach deep down into your spirit.  Receive them by faith.  You are closer than you think. A global recession has forced many to postpone their dreams and cancel their plans.  You may have lost your job.  You may have lost your savings, maybe even your home.  It could be that you have health concerns or relationship problems.  Maybe you are frustrated because it’s taking so long to get where you want to be in your life.  Yet now is not the time to talk yourself out of you goals and dreams.  Now is not the time to get discouraged.  You may think as I sometimes have, that you’re not even halfway to your goal.  You may feel you have so far to go.  But the truth is, you don’t know.  Your dream may just be up around the corner.  You may think it will take another two years.  But if you stay in faith, who knows?  It may just be tow more months.  You are closer than you think.  I believe it’s your time.

–Joel Osteen

If we assume that this is a summary of the book, do you spot any mention of God?  How about Jesus?  The Bible?  With a critical hat on, it would not be too difficult to assume, then that the book may not be about Christianity at all.  Instead, it sounds like just one more attempt for this medicine man to peddle his bottled cures and make a load of money in the process. The back cover starts with a firm admission: he does not have a clue a thing about you.  However, he continues to speak as if he has every idea of what your life is about and that if you believe hard enough then you will attain your dreams.  What is he basing this knowledge on?  If we look at what he says in this passage that has been volunteered to appear on the cover: nothing.  Nothing except for his own inner self that he has listened to and which has helped him become his own shining star.

In the absence of another option, it may be from this cover that Osteen is setting himself up as your Gnostic savior, one who has the secret knowledge and once you receive this knowledge (apparently contained within) you too will share in the health, wealth, and prosperity that he has.  Perhaps it is not a stretch at all to suggest that the cover is a photo of the trinity in the Osteen landscape.  Thus it makes complete sense that Osteen uses himself as the example of success: he is cunning enough to get thousands of people to empty their pocket books each week at his church and millions of more to empty their purses on his books.

Hey, after all this is America.  The most successful people are the ones with the fattest bank accounts and the most toys.  If that is how you want to define success, Joelie-boy, you’ve made it.  But don’t let the gates of hell smack you on the way through.


About Aaron Gardner

Aaron is a counselor and student of the Bible, passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. He lives in central Indiana with his wife, one-year-old son and their two dogs. View all posts by Aaron Gardner

11 responses to ““It’s Your Time”: the Latest Refuse from Joel Osteen

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  • Christopher

    “Though I have not read the book…”

    Then be quiet. Do your diligence and read it. Stop making judgmental notions about what’s in the covers without gracing the pages with your self-righteous fingers. I’m not a fan of Joel Osteen either but I do remember reading something in THE BIBLE about keeping the unity (Eph). He is leading people to Christ in droves sir. And I think that warrants you to keep your OPINIONS and let the man’s ministry speak for it’s self.

    “But don’t let the gates of hell smack you on the way through.”

    Thank you again for proving my point. Take a page out of your own book and read the bible about judging others. Judge the fruit of his ministry. I agree he has more money than I will ever see but that doesn’t make him hell-bound. Sir keep your refuse to yourself. No wait, I will take the responsibility and un-follow you so that you can say what you wish.

    Sir, if your going to make a “book-cover review”, review the book cover and not assume the content based off your preconceived prejudices of a man that isn’t as reformed as you. Thanks for your opinion. Keep the unity brother.

  • Aaron


    Thank you so much for your comments! I do believe in Christian unity and to this means being in unity with people who actually preach the Word of God. This is not about Osteen “not being as reformed” as me, but it is about whether he is actually preaching the message of Christ and him crucified.

    If you can find a sermon in which Osteen does just that, then let me know. I would love to hear it.

    And as a point of reference, this is not the first time that I have written about Osteen. See my previous post at https://lunchboxsw.wordpress.com/2009/09/15/lies-of-joel-osteen/

    While I have not read this particular book, this is not the first interaction that I have had with Osteen, and I will beg you to listen to a sermon and actually look up the verses he “quotes.” You may be surprised at how often they are not only taken out of context, but where he actually changes the words themselves to fit his message.

    I have to comment on the irony of your admonition of a Christian brother, and then taking what you are criticizing me for and unfollowing me and removing yourself from the conversation.

    Either way, thank you for your comments 🙂

  • Christopher


    First off let me apologize for my words. I had this exact experience just recently where I was in your shoes and someone was commenting on what I wrote. They removed themselves from the conversation abruptly and it broke my heart. I apologize for not attempting to be the solution.

    I will take you up on the challenge of finding a sermon that joel preaches Christ crucified. Though I do not agree with your stance on it I will respect your decision to post your analysis of his work.


  • Matthew Wilson

    Though saying read his book and then judge his writings may sound like the Unity perspective, it however is not really a Biblical perspective at all. Think of this, God wants us to pursue him and him only, Joel may be getting tons of followers and some may even be Christians, he has not repented to teaching false doctrines nor changed the way he preaches. This in itself is enough to treat him as a pagan as instructed by the Bible. We as Christians in pursuit of Christ(not Joel’s life) should pursue deeper doctrine that brings forth transformation, even if Joel had changed, he would still be far from meat that we require for strength. For him to write a book is like a 10 year old writting a book about the entire English language. We could help build Joel if he repented but until his heart becomes of Flesh or of furtile soil, his books are useless to read, pursue deeper relation with Christ, doctrine is meat, your best life now is spoiled milk..

  • tom

    Right on! Without sin (which Joel knowingly and purposefully ignores and refused to mention) why is there any need for a savior?

    So thankful for His righteousness in exchange for my sin. (2 Cor. 5:21)



  • Matthew

    Can I direct you Christopher and others to a great ministry called : ‘Justin Peters Ministries’ Justin will show you just what Aaron is on about.

    here: http://www.justinpeters.org/
    & here : http://narrowseventhirteen.blogspot.com/2010/01/call-for-biblical-discernment.html

  • thereformedtraveler

    I sat at the feet of Joel’s Da-Da, John, for many years-as well as his (John’s) cronies. Joel has surpassed the greatness of his father…as far as snake oil and deluding, that is. Gnostic Jesus is exactly right.Your post is SO excellent- relished every word except had a very hard time getting through the Joel quotes- gave me the willies….and I used to LOVE the getting the willies. I’m with you- to get the word out on Osteen everyway I can. He’s like a big docrtines of devils vacumn sucking in the mass (oops, did I say mass?)..I meant masses, like in a a whole lot a folk.

  • EarleyDaysYet

    @ Christopher

    Re: bringing in people in droves – so? I grew up in the US South with a LOT of people who considered themselves Christians and who accepted their affluent, corpulent, prosperous existence to be proof of their station as God’s elect. There was very little evidence of real, vibrant, living faith in most of those communities. To quote Keith Green: “going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger”. The admonition is to “go forth and preach the Gospel”, not “get as many people as possible to attend your church”.

  • frank

    Young Brother Aaron. Praise The Lord and stay the course. Man -pleasers who suck up all the abberant doctrine they can in the name of Christian unity, really have not done their homework. We need Brothers like you exposing error and speaking truth in love. Joel Osteen has habitually spoken and written out of both sides of his mouth and misrepresented The Lord he claims to serve.. One does not have to dig very deep to find this out nor have read his “latest” book. Simply google his interviews on Larry King or listen to his sermons or yes read his other books ( i have done all these things) – THEN tell us he lines his ministry up with The WOrd of God. Numbers prove NOTHING, for “wide is the road that leads to destruction and MANY there be that find it” – I think our King may have said that? 😉

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