Now Driscoll takes on Osteen

Apparently it’s a theme this week…

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle (and someone I consider a mentor of sorts), treated his congregation to a little critique of Joel Osteen’s “teaching” this past Sunday. As it turns out, Jesus was a miserable failure at living up to Osteen’s gumdrops and rainbows idea of the Christian life.

(Credit to revolutionfl for the clip.)


30 thoughts on “Now Driscoll takes on Osteen

  1. Don’t worry bro, soon enough Mark Driscoll could be preaching on a weekly basis in your own city! It seems that the next logical step in the multi-campus church phenomenon may be inevitable. Here’s the rundown…

    Mark Driscoll’s church is one of the first to be really successful with the idea of being a multi-campus church. They film his sermons during the mid-week service and replay the videos on at various “campuses” throughout the Seattle area. In theory it’s a great idea, especially when it comes to solving the space issues churches often face as they grow in popularity. For example, It’s easier to find several small storefronts throughout a city that are easier for a wider audience to get to than finding one giant facility (like Osteen’s 15,000 seater, for example) that everyone has to commute to from all over. Yes, it’s weird to watch the pastor’s sermon on a video screen, but you still get some “regular church” feel with announcements, corporate worship, etc.

    What’s happening now is that churches like Driscoll’s are starting to consider the possibility of “franchising.” You make the sermon videos available for digital distribution, appoint a team of facilitators in a given city to organize the worship gatherings and voila, you not only have Mars Hill in Seatlle, but Mars Hill: Rochester, Mars Hill: Providence, etc.

    There are drawbacks. How will it affect churches in a given community when the “celebrity” pastor brings his game to town? – For one.

    I have mixed feelings about it. I’ve always dreamed of doing something like this in a house church network type of context. (Sound familiar Matt?) Cut out the overhead completely. No buildings, no utilities. No commute. No church “show.” Virtually no limits to where you can go and who your ministry can reach.

  2. Mr. Osteen is certainly deserving of derision and critique, but I wonder if the pulpit is the place from which to do it. Showing a video clip of another pastor and saying “he’s wrong!”, even if he is REALLY wrong, seems questionable. Driscoll’s message is right on, but the method doesn’t feel right to me. Maybe I’m too square?

  3. First..Driscoll just looks like my friend Rob Strong.

    Second, I don’t disagree with most of what Driscoll says.

    However…there is just something wrong I think about trashing another’s ministry, even if it’s off base. There is so many other things we can be doing as a church then wasting our time critiquing other church communities who “have it wrong.” I just think that Driscoll’s point could be made without the video clip or the air of “look at what THEY do” we’re right, they’re wrong. It creates an us VS. them in the church. All this just seems to lack humility I think. If Olsteen has it wrong, fine…let it be, and then do it right.

    Nevertheless, it’s good biblical preaching on Driscoll’s part, minus the publicly defaming another pastor.

  4. Dear Shane,

    I’m watching your podcast on Mark Driscoll talking about Joel Osteen and I’m very discouraged by it. I completely agree with you that the “gospel” of health, wealth, and prosperity is an abomination to God. I just wish you hadn’t brought another’s ministry into disrepute (even though it is clearly off base). It lowers you and your ministry and integrity. All one needs to do in order to discredit the thinking of this theological viewpoint is to mention the millions of believers who have nothing material and never will and who live with diseases we’ll never know every day in Africa.

  5. No Josh, you might be on to something.

    Just last week I posted my dissapointment over Driscoll calling out Rob Bell and Brian McLaren as heretics. Now I find myself questioning whether or not I’m being hypocritical regarding Osteen. Am I piling on Osteen just because I vehemently disagree with his teaching? Did I take up for Bell and McLaren just because I like them both? What are my motives behind posting blogs about this stuff?

    I noticed that Driscoll’s theme is titled “State of the Pulpit.” It would appear that, at least the past couple weeks, he’s critiqing the major players.

    While I do think there’s merit to preaching against “Prosperity Doctrine” and even some aspects of the “Emergent Church” from the pulpit, I think the part that leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths is when he calls guys out by name.

    But Driscoll’s kind of always been like that…

  6. Jonathan: Tell me, what do you know about my “ministry?” 😆

    I’ll take (and welcome) your criticism for anything I may have actually said myself that you find objectionable. But let’s make sure we’re not shooting the messenger here. I’m not a pastor, or a journalist. I just get to pretend I’m both (and generally doing a poor job of both) here on my blog.

    I’m not too sure how my reporting on Driscoll’s comments is any more inflamatory or discrediting than your saying that Osteen’s ministry is “clearly off base.”

    If you take exception to anything I’ve said, that’s fine. But let’s just make sure any arrows that should be aimed at Driscoll aren’t hitting me in the crossfire.

    (Please also see my previous comment about me questioning my own motives.)

  7. I too am not convinced that publicly rebuking or criticizing another pastor from the pulpit is a legitimate way to approach the problem. Clearly, it is appropriate to rebuke false doctrine, but one can do that without directly attacking the individual responsible for such false doctrine. After all, God can use even heretics to achieve his purposes. And the early church determined, after some serious prayer and soul-searching (and Scripture-searching) that sacraments (such as baptism and communion) remained spiritually valid regardless of the orthodoxy or the personal morality of the pastor who had been involved in dispensing them, because the real value of the sacraments comes from God, not from human beings.

    That said, I saw parts of the Larry King Live interview with Joel Osteen and his wife, and to be honest, I was troubled deeply by some of their answers about things. They just didn’t seem to have their feet on a foundation. . . .

    And some of the things Osteen said then (and at other occasions) reminds me of the things Ted Haggard was saying from the Nyack College commencement stage in May 2006 (“If you are not a success in the eyes of the world, you have disappointed God.”). I e-mailed Haggard afterwards, and he made it clear that he believed that people who walked in the Holy Spirit never experienced suffering. (At the baccalaureate service the evening before, we had had an emotional service which had celebrated and commemorated the lives of two of our students who had died before commencement.) A few months later, Haggard was exposed in a major scandal that brought into question the validity of his “no suffering for Jesus” gospel.

    In this prosperity gospel, there is no room for human suffering. Yet while Jesus came to heal suffering of all kinds, he did not ever take away the human experience and reduce it to a series of comfortable platitudes. In fact, Jesus himself endured suffering for our sakes. And many of the early Christians suffered and gave their lives for the faith. And what they died for was not a “get rich quick scheme” but was the true Good News: that our broken, suffering lives can be transformed through a relationship with Jesus Christ. That transformation, however, only very rarely involves material prosperity. Most of the time, it involves a way to face the suffering of this life through hope, through love, through relationship with God.

  8. Great insight Charles, thanks for sharing your thoughts. They’re always highly valued…

    I had no idea Haggard spoke at Nyack’s commencement. Wow. Unexpected choice from a school considered by some to be the C&MA’s wildly liberal prodigal child.

  9. Shereen got her masters degree at that commencement ceremony. We were both flabbergasted by Haggard’s message. I kept a screengrab of his bio page from the Nyack website the day I was asked to remove it (guess what day that was?).

  10. I don’t know – the skin’s a little thin around all the detractors here, bro’. Me? I grabbed the content and posted it on my blog. No, I don’t agree with everything Mark Driscoll says or teaches, the same as I don’t agree with Olsteen, McLaren, or Bell all the time. The fact is, Mark Driscoll didn’t call Olsteen a whack job – he let him have his say (via video) and then he tore it apart with the truth of God and scripture. I’ll take that any day of the week!

    (and Shane – I would be first on your doorstep if you ever “house churched” it – especially if we had some JesusDriscollBellMcClarenChrist in the house – b’lieve ‘dat!!)

  11. I kept a screengrab of his bio page from the Nyack website the day I was asked to remove it

    You should auction that jpeg off to disgruntled alumni on eBay. Or use it for blackmail.

    I would be first on your doorstep if you ever “house churched” it

    You know, I’d believe that if I had been able to get you go out for a coffee or beer at any point in the past three months. 😆

    I don’t know – the skin’s a little thin around all the detractors here

    I think the problem most are having is that he’s critiquing Osteen from the pulpit. If I had offered up that same clip from Osteen, then wrote blog saying “I don’t agree with this teaching, and here’s why…” it probably wouldn’t be met with as much resistence. Especially if I was fair in my criticism, was cautious to stay far enough away from being slanderous toward Osteen, and didn’t resort to sarcasm.

    But Driscoll’s a bit of a smart-a**. Which, incidentally, is one of the things that I most enjoy about his teaching. And his teaching style is quite a bit different than most pastors who offer up the 25-minute leave-feeling-good-about-yourself type sermon. His teaching is pretty academic. Most of his “sermons” are an hour to an hour and a half and are more like a college lecture than a typical sermon. A bible professor critiquing “prosperity doctrine” in a classroom setting would probably use similar methods, and wouldn’t receive nearly the backlash.

  12. Hey Everyone,

    I just wanted to post a correction to “They film his sermons during the mid-week service and replay the videos on at various “campuses” throughout the Seattle area.”

    This is an innacurate statement. I’m a Mars Hill member as well as a member of the production team. Mark’s sermons are not pre-recorded during the week. They are preached live from the Ballard Campus on Sundays at 9:00, 11:00, 4:30, 6:30, and 8:30. Granted there will most likely be times in the future where it may be pre-recorded but that still remains to be seen. Typically it is preached live from Ballard weekly, and up until 3 weeks ago he was preaching live from the West Seattle Campus as well.

    By the way…and these are my comments, not those of Mars Hill Church…I don’t think Mark was bashing Joel Osteen, I believe that he was simply making the point that no where in the Bible does it say that our lives are going to be full of perfect relationships, health and wealth…it just so happens that Joel has the largest most prominent televised ministry teaching this (making it a viable example for media purposes).

    We have a large church in the area called Christian Faith Center which too teaches the prosperity doctrine and if they televised or released their sermons I don’t doubt that we may have seen them instead…

    So thank you for your time and I’m glad that you have such a great discussion going…

  13. Karene – thanks for the correction on the production schedule. I think I may have (errantly) picked up my perception of how you do things from an older podcast where Mark mentioned taping a sermon for replay at another campus. Maybe he was talking about what might be happening in the future? Ah well, either way.

  14. Wait… now I’m confused.

    You mentioned how frequently he preaches live at Ballard. And mentioned he’s no longer preaching live at West Seattle. I’m assuming he’s also not preching live at Wedgwood or Shoreline. And won’t be at Eastside or Downtown. (I have a high regard for Mark, but I’m pretty sure he’s not omnipresent.)

    Where he’s not preaching live, it is a video presentation correct? Do I just have the timeline wrong?

    I’d love any insight into the production schedule and how its used/distributed. I think you guys do an amazing job.

  15. 😆

    I’m just as dumbfounded, I assure you. About all I do to promote my blog is post a MySpace bulletin every time there’s something new. But that only accounts for 10-20 hits a day.

    The biggest surprise when both Jim and Casper participated in the discussion about their book “Jim & Casper Go to Church.”

    I have noticed that ever since WordPress added tags there’s been an uptick. That probably plays a part as well.

  16. Shane-
    Good post….keep them coming!
    This is the first time I have heard Driscoll preach. I liked his style, it reminded me of a college lecture by the professor everyone hoped to get back in school.

    I have had close friends follow the Prosperity gospel into personal bankruptcy so I can appreciate Driscoll’s message.

    Honestly, I don’t really know which side of the calling preachers out by name discussion is truly the most Christlike. Driscoll’s comments are all “lollipops” in comparison to Jesus’ comments on the spiritual leaders of his day….On the other hand, calling folks heretics over non-harmful non-essentials can be pretty ugly. (but then, who decides what is essential?)

  17. On the other hand, calling folks heretics over non-harmful non-essentials can be pretty ugly. (but then, who decides what is essential?)

    That’s a good point. A few weeks ago I posted a link to an interview with Brian McLaren. In it he basically makes that same point in answering criticism he’d received from John MacArthur in his latest book. McLaren’s point was that from an Evangelical perspective the Orthodox are heretics, and from the Orthodox perspective the Baptists are heretics, and from a Baptist persepective… well… we’re all heretics I suppose. 😆

    I think for Driscoll, and I’m trying not to speak for him, his main problem with Bell/McLaren is their perceived “downgrade” of Scripture, and for Osteen it’s a lack of talking about sin and the need for redemption.

    Oh, and you should totally subscribe to Driscoll’s sermon podcasts. If you have iTunes it’s easy enough to find it, or you can subscribe to the RSS feed at the Mars Hill Seattle website. Before my CD burner and mp3 player crapped the bed I used to listen during my commute. Now I’ve got about two month’s worth of stuff to get through waiting for my on my hard drive.

  18. regarding production…We use satalites…They are streamed to the different capuses…They are then recorded at each individual campus as well and are actually played in a manner similar to TIVO…you start recording and then play back before it is done streaming…

    You are right he is not everywhere but Mars Hill is a constantly evolving and chaging beast…what works today will not necessarily work next year. So anyways. Thanks for your time.

    Regarding how i discovered this blog…I get Google alerts for Mars Hill Church and your blog got pinged this week…I found it interesting so I decided that I would hop in for a few min.

    Thank you for working to further the Kingdom…


  19. i hate it when i think of something a week late. a lot of people made comments about how dudeman on the clip was “playa hatin'” on osteen, and i thought about something. some of the names look like fellow nyack alums, and we were all subjected to that in classes with prof’s like poston who declared that all catholics and non-evangelical protestants are NOT christians! how often does that go on in places like a poston classroom or in a fundamentalist church or whatever. i guess it’s basically the same point, and hopefully those who thought taking a bite on osteen was bad would agree with the poston example.

    but what i really was wondering, butrose, is what do you think of brian mcclaren’s new book? you probably talked about it on here but i missed it. is it worth my hard earned $$$? pray tell.

  20. As far as McLaren’s new book… sorry, I can’t help you. I haven’t even seen it in stores yet. I typically like what McLaren has to offer, so based on that alone… go for it.

    You really need to ask Mudpuppy. He was entrusted with an advanced copy of it back in August and hasn’t said a darn thing about it yet. Nearly three months and counting. Sort of defeats the publisher’s purpose in giving him an advanced copy, but whatever… 😆

    (Oooooh. Shane called Mudpuppy out….)

  21. Its blasphemous when highly popular pastors don’t know God’s truth well enough to know that we are to walk in blessing and not curses (Deut. 28). Teaching “hopelessness and anxiety” is as much of a sin as teaching “wealth and prosperity” (Matt 6:25-34; Mark 9:42-43). God’s people need to know that the truth is that God/Jesus blesses His people out of their obedience and faith to Him and not from their need (Deut. 28:1, also see where Jesus healed because of faith/trust in Him: Matt, Mark, Luke John). God’s people also need to know that God and Jesus are not two different beings (Deut. 6:4-6; John 10:29-31). Jesus was the human form of God as He walked among men (John 1:1-5). So “Jesus” does not negate “God” or His Word (Matt. 5:16-18).

  22. You’re a bad man Mr. Bertou! I smell envy… 😛

    Yeah, I’m half-way through it now. It’s sort of like reading a dictionary in that the pages don’t turn quickly. Another thing keeping me from grabbing it on a regular basis is that I get a little fatigued from reading about the state of the church, and man does this one wear me out quickly. I’ve had to take a little sabatical from the book because it was causing a migrane in my theology.

    But it has some good thought, and one of these days I’ll finish it and post a review. Thanks for the reminder that I’ve got an obligation to finish this soon.

    I did post a little update here.

    And Nick did a great review <a href=”″.

  23. If you didnt want members of your church body getting caught up in Osteens “ministry” where else would you preach it other than the pulpit?

    I personally wasnt super impressed with Driscolls take but I think if the leadership of the church feels Osteens message is one that can damage Christianity then they should speak out about it to thier congregation.

  24. I’m always skeptical of leaders of extremely popular, high-profile national churches.

    I guess that’s understandable. But that makes me wonder… what about Billy Graham?

    In Christendom he’s more popular than the Beatles. Which makes him way more popular than Jesus!

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