Prominent Discernment Minister Mike Winger Can’t Bring Himself to Call Joel Osteen a False Brother+ “He Does Seem to Proclaim the True Gospel of Christ”

Discernment Minister Mike Winger has been embroiled in a bit of controversy over the last few days, scrapping with Bible Thumping Wingnut and Doctrinal Watchdog about several theological points.

What we find distressing, and we take exception with, is that Winger doesn’t seem to have the discernment and theological fortitude to identify an arch-heretic as a false teacher who is definitely not saved. Far from it. Instead, he argues that Osteen “seems to proclaim the true gospel of Christ” and insists that he be shown where Osteen teaches a non-biblical gospel.

Primarily the biggest thing (my critics) say about me that’s true, it’s not a lie, is that I really do think that a lot of Christians are real Christians even though they have major issues in their lives. Whether it’s some doctrinal things that are wrong, or whether it’s even some practical like living their life, and there’s issues.

And maybe I’m less confident that they’re Christian because of the things I see, but I’m not going to call them ‘false brethren’ because of it. I’ve done this with several people who are even prominent teachers like Joel Osteen who I, yeah, I’ve got a reason to wonder whether that guy’s really saved or not, but I lean, and I lean hopefully on the side that, you know, he does seem to proclaim the true gospel of Christ. And if you say he doesn’t, show me specifically where he says “how you get saved is xyz” and it’s not the actual biblical gospel.

Like I haven’t seen that, so I can’t say that. And many are so quick to just call others false brethren, fake Christians, because on a secondary issue they differ than us. This is what I’m in trouble for.”

Discernment 101 is that Website Orthodoxy exists, a term we coined meaning someone who has an orthodox statement of faith on their website, but then ignores it entirely in their body of work, sermons, books or teachings. This describes Osteen perfectly. With Winger’s intellectual and spiritual abrogation made manifest, David explains where he goes wrong:

Here are the facts: 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.

And while he talks about God a lot, he NEVER talks about Jesus. We did a survey of his Tweets one year and out of nearly a thousand tweets, he mentioned ‘God’ over 330 times and ‘Jesus’ just three time. GT notes:

More often than not, Osteen sounds like an inspirational life-coach, instead of a herald of the gospel. He often preaches about how people can improve their lives, be prosperous, and experience happiness. Noticeably absent in Osteen’s optimistic message is any mention of sin or repentance. The atonement of Christ provides us with healing and the abundant life, according to Osteen, but apparently receiving forgiveness from a holy God is not necessary.

In numerous interviews and writings, Osteen has failed to proclaim that Jesus is the only way to heaven. He has repeatedly refused to agree with the teachings of the Bible that certain behaviors are sinful. This is not a new convert being interviewed; it’s the leader of a church of tens of thousands. Osteen can’t bring himself to support fundamental doctrines of the faith he claims to preach. His words communicate relativism and demonstrate a profoundly poor understanding of the Bible.

When you don’t talk about sin—and Osteen purposefully does not—you’re not preaching the whole gospel. When you barely, if ever, call sin what it is, you’re not helping anyone, least of all the sinner who is enslaved to sin (John 8:342 Corinthians 4:3). Joel Osteen’s teaching would lead us to believe that we are being saved from unhappiness and failure in life, not from sin and God’s wrath. Osteen does not teach that we need a divine rescue from judgment, but rather simply a self-improvement plan.

Can you trust a discernment minister who can’t identify a wolf like Osteen, the lowest hanging fruit in Christendom, and call him on it? We certainly don’t think so.


For more information about Osteen, click here.

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6 thoughts on “Prominent Discernment Minister Mike Winger Can’t Bring Himself to Call Joel Osteen a False Brother+ “He Does Seem to Proclaim the True Gospel of Christ”

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