Joel Osteen Likes God, He just doesn’t like Jesus. A Twitter Survey of @JoelOsteen

We often talk about the Christ-less Gospel of Joel Osteen. Whenever people ask us what that means, we tell them this; Joel Osteen does not talk about the Christian Gospel. Joel does not follow in the footsteps of Paul and shares this message

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve… 1 Corinthians 15:1-5

Rather, in the gospel of Joel Osteen, the “good news” that he brings is that “God loves you and wants to save you from life of mediocrity and small dreams. Therefore, if you believe in God and be obedient to him, God will give you a plan for your life that includes big dreams, self esteem, favor, health and wealth, influence, a better job, a positive self image and a fulfilled life free of negativity”.

That’s it. That’s what it’s all about. That is the sum of just about every book, every sermon, every media appearance, and every tweet of Joel Osteen, condensed into a few sentences.

That being said, there is something significant to understand about Joel Osteen: He does talk about God. A lot. You cannot accuse the man of not mentioning him because he’s all over that. Yet it’s never really in a personal sense. Joel talks about God, but it’s always in a vague, amorphous sense. There is undoubtedly nothing distinctly Christian or Biblical about it. There’s nothing doctrinal or theological about the way he talks about God. Instead, He is an ethereal, shapeless, formless, customizable, singular being thing that is out there called God that functions like a cosmic vending machine whose sole purpose is seeming to bless you and make your life better. Even when he mentions God, it’s not ABOUT God, but it’s about what God can do for YOU.

Why do we say “singular being”? Simple. While mention of a “God” may be plastered all over his Twitter feed, Jesus is Not. Joel Osteen rarely, if ever, mentioned Jesus. He rarely, if ever, mentions Christ. This is true when you listen to his sermons, read his tweets, and listen to him on whatever talk show he’s touring.

Years ago, we did a quick survey of all Joel Osteen’s tweets from June 8, 2013 to July 18, 2014, or about a year. Out of Joel Osteen’s 806 tweets, not including any of his replies to other people, he mentions “God” 334 times.

Want to guess how many times he mentioned “Jesus”?

Once.

One time.

We figured that number seemed small, so we exchanged the word “Jesus” for “Christ”? And know how many times Christ was mentioned?

Twice.

Two times.

In the spirit of generosity, we thought perhaps Joel was more comfortable using his real name, “Yeshua,” and searched accordingly.

No times.

How about “Lord?”

One time. And it was referring to God.

So this is where we’re at. This means that America’s most influential pastor, the guy with the most prominent church of 43,000 members, one of the most well-known and most recognized pastors with the biggest platform, out of 806 tweets this last year, in a Twitter feed that is not about his personal life, but rather serves to communicate his version of theological truths about Christianity and faith for his 2.6 million followers (at the time) …Joel Osteen mentioned Jesus in some capacity 3 times.

We didn’t have access to the rest of his Twitter account prior to that date. Still, if you extrapolate the numbers going back to 2009 when he joined, out of his 11300 tweets, he mentioned the name Jesus, God in human flesh, our great God and Savior who was fully man and fully God, who excruciatingly bore the wrath of the Father on a cross and died and rose again in propitiation for our sins- he likely only got mentioned 24 times. On a Twitter feed designed to share the truth about the Christian life from a supposed Christian leader who tweets 2-4 times a day.

If you look up some of Joel’s favorite topics and the main message he likes to communicate, he references “dreams” 48 mentions, such as this tweet “You’re closer to seeing that dream come to pass than you think. You may not be able to see it, but it can see you.” 

How about “great/greatness?” 36 mentions, such as “You have the seeds of greatness, don’t allow something small to keep you from God’s best.” 

“Favor?” 32 mentions, such as “Go get your favor, your dream, your victory. It has your name on it.” 

Put any other of his favorite buzzwords in a search bar, and you’ll get scores of hits. But talk of Jesus and his death and resurrection, his salvation, his shed blood, sin, the forgiveness he offers, his grace and mercy, his loving kindness- there’s nothing even remotely like that there.

Like we said, Christ-less.


Editor’s Note. This post was adapted from a 2014 post we did on the subject. Updated to make it more current

1 thought on “Joel Osteen Likes God, He just doesn’t like Jesus. A Twitter Survey of @JoelOsteen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.