One advantage of being the pastor of the largest Protestant church in the nation is that everybody knows who you are. But that can also be a disadvantage.
Joel Osteen is the pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. Lakewood is the largest Protestant church in America, and few people don’t know who Osteen is. After all, he has his own television show, has authored best-selling books, and was even interviewed by Larry King.
What’s the down-side? Not everybody thinks he is doing his job the right way, and they are getting vocal about it.
With the recent United States Supreme Court decision supporting gay marriage, there has been an evangelical call for pastors to use their pulpits to speak out against the law. Osteen has not signed on to this agenda. In fact, he says he believes that is not what he is called to do as a pastor.
According to the Christian Post, Osteen stated, “I have friends who are very political. They’re pastors and that’s what their thing is. But I think sometimes, that the church world, we can take one issue and make it really, really big and it can turn people off, where there are many bigger issues. You know, our message is about lifting people up, helping them fulfill their destiny, helping them to forgive in a tough time, how to make it through this life when life tries to push you down.”
Those who oppose Osteen’s stance point out that Jesus confronted sin and was not concerned with “lifting people up,” but with telling people the truth and saving their souls from an eternity without God.
This is not a new position for Osteen. He has been accused of watering down scripture in order to increase his church membership for years.
Last year, Steve Camp, pastor of the Cross Church in Florida, accused Osteen of believing “God exists to make us happy rather than holy.”
“It’s the age old sin of idolatry — that it’s not about God, it’s about us,” Camp added.
Osteen received a ton of backlash after his Larry King interview. When asked about abortion and same sex marriage, the pastor replied, “You know what, Larry? I don’t go there.”
When you’re the “King of the Hill,” everybody is going to take their shot at you. The question that Osteen has to ask himself is, “What if they are right?”