Megachurch pastor and professional swindler Joel Osteen appeared on NBC News’ “Today” on Monday morning to tout his new book, “Peaceful on Purpose.” Rather than ask the televangelist hard-hitting questions, such as how people who aren’t worth $100 million are supposed to find peace in economic hardship, co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb tossed Osteen softball questions that allowed him to preach a near-godless mini-sermon.
Sure, Osteen name-dropped God a couple of times during his self-aggrandizing book promo, but his main message was clear: God is available for emergencies, but you are responsible for providing your own peace.
“I think sometimes we’re waiting to see what the day is going to be like, if things are going to go our way,” Osteen said. “But I think if you’re going to be peaceful, you have to make a decision at the start of the day that no matter what comes against you, you’re going to stay in peace, you’re not going to let things take your joy.” He continued:
I think of it like you have a spare tire in your car. You’re not planning on having a flat, but you have provision just in case something happens. I think the same way: We’re going to plan on having a great day, but we may bump into some, you know, people that are rude, or our plans may not work out. We may get a negative report. But you have to make the decision before, ahead of time, that today is a gift from God. I’m not going to get rattled. I’m going to stay in peace, knowing that he is in control.
Osteen closed out his self-help talking point with a platitude about God’s sovereignty, but his message dripped with a man-centered message. “You have to make a decision at the start of the day that no matter what comes against you, you’re going to stay in peace. You’re not going to let things take your joy.”
You, you, you. You make the plan, you hold on tight to peace, but if something starts to rattle you, God is always there hiding in the trunk if you have an emergency. That’s the Osteen message.
Guthrie and Kotb ate it up, giving the prosperity gospel preacher space to broadcast the next point of his sermon.
“If you had to complete this sentence, finish this thought: You cannot have peace without…?” Kotb prompted.
“Trusting,” Osteen finished the line. “I think a lot of times, Hoda, we’re trying to control things that we can’t control.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) May 17, 2021
Scripture is rich with stories illustrating how little human beings can control, even going so far as to call Jesus the author of our faith. Osteen, however, wasn’t talking about trusting God to order the intricacies of our lives, including when he takes us down paths that defy our original plans in order to humble us and exalt Himself.
Osteen was instead talking about vaguely trusting God to work things out for us when we can’t control traffic patterns, the response of a stranger, or a boss who gets under our skin. Osteen’s prescription was for his audience to will themselves back to a peaceful mindset and then trust God to “fight my battles” while I “enjoy my life.”
Osteen’s ideas might fit well among the “Today” show’s daily drivel or in a Goodwill self-help clearance bin, but for the message of a so-called shepherd, it does nothing but scatter sheep into isolated and Godless valleys. It’s easy for a massively wealthy gospel grifter to hide behind the camera, spouting broken bromides to sell another idolatrous book, but there’s nothing peaceful about a gospel that touts peace as a product of man’s efforts. Just as Rachel Hollis’ anti-Christian “you got this” gospel leaves readers “exhausted,” Osteen’s you-centered formula, where God is an afterthought, affords anything but peace.
“Start the day off in peace,” Osteen advised, launching into a completely temporal rant devoid of any eternal value. “In other words, start it grateful, not getting up, rushing, I gotta get the kids, and I’m worried about these problems, and I’ve got to deal with this. But I think you need to have some time to just come back to a place of peace, where you’re grateful, think about what’s right, not what’s wrong. Focus on what you do have, not what you don’t have. I find when I start the day in peace, when I get focused that way, it’ll make the day go much better.”
Osteen’s transactional equation is simple: You conjure up peace = You have a better life. God is optional.
The biblical message of peace isn’t one of self-focus and self-exertion. Instead, scripture teaches that true peace with God is found exclusively through faith in the death and resurrection of Christ, the only giver of true peace.
As the prophet Isaiah said of the Lord, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” There is no more peace-giving message than the one that assures us we can find peace only in the arms of a gracious Savior, not in our depraved selves.
There aren’t many things that fall into the multimillion-dollar religion tycoon’s “what you don’t have” column, but ironically, a true, peace-offering gospel is one of them. Any message of peace untethered from the Prince of Peace is no peace at all, and thus any pastor who promotes it is a phony and a false teacher.
Leave Osteen’s book for the Goodwill clearance bin. There’s no peace in it.