On June 20, 2005 Joel Osteen had a interview with talk show host Larry King. Mr. Osteen is the pastor of the Lakewood Church in Houston, it claims to be the largest single church in America. The church has about 30,000 people who attend it weekly. Joel has also authored many Christian books, and he has sold millions of them worldwide. Here now are Joel’s words.
KING: Is it hard to lead a Christian life?
OSTEEN: I don’t think it’s that hard. To me it’s fun. We have joy and happiness. Our family — I don’t feel like that at all. I’m not trying to follow a set of rules and stuff. I’m just living my life.
KING: But you have rules, don’t you?
OSTEEN: We do have rules. But the main rule to me is to honor God with your life. To life a life of integrity. Not be selfish. You know, help others. But that’s really the essence of the Christian faith.
KING: That we live in deeds?
OSTEEN: I don’t know. What do you mean by that?
KING: Because we’ve had ministers on who said, your record don’t count. You either believe in Christ or you don’t. If you believe in Christ, you are, you are going to heaven. And if you don’t no matter what you’ve done in your life, you ain’t.
OSTEEN: Yeah, I don’t know. There’s probably a balance between. I believe you have to know Christ. But I think that if you know Christ, if you’re a believer in God, you’re going to have some good works. I think it’s a cop-out to say I’m a Christian but I don’t ever do anything …
KING: What if you’re Jewish or Muslim, you don’t accept Christ at all?
OSTEEN: You know, I’m very careful about saying who would and wouldn’t go to heaven. I don’t know …
KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They’re wrong, aren’t they?
OSTEEN: Well, I don’t know if I believe they’re wrong. I believe here’s what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God with judge a person’s heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don’t know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don’t know. I’ve seen their sincerity. So I don’t know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.
KING: The Senate apologized last week for slavery. You think the Southern Baptists and a lot of the churches in the South owe some apology, too?
OSTEEN: I’ve never thought about it. Because I just didn’t — wasn’t raised in it.
KING: But you know its history.
OSTEEN: Oh, absolutely. I think that it would never hurt; anything we could do to make amends, the better it can be. That’s what I love about our church. It’s made up of all different races. That’s what life should all be about. That’s what God wants it to be.
KING: Doesn’t it hurt you that people 50 years ago talking about God and Christ also didn’t — Martin Luther King call 11:00 a.m. Sunday morning the most segregated hour in America? Does it bother you to know that predecessors of yours …
OSTEEN: Yeah, absolutely bothers me. It’s not right. It’s a shame, and I don’t know how they could do it with a pure heart to God but, you know what? It happened.
KING: I want to get to the seven steps. But when the people call you cotton candy theology. Someone said you’re very good but there’s no spiritual nourishment. I don’t know what that means …
OSTEEN: I think, I hear it meaning a lot of different things. One I think a lot of it is that I’m not condemning people. And I don’t know, but Larry I talk, I mean every week in our church we’re dealing with people that are fighting cancer, that have their lost loved ones. That are going through a divorce. I mean, I talk about those issues, and to me I don’t see how it can get any more, you know, real than that. So I don’t know what the criticism is.
KING: What is the prosperity gospel?
OSTEEN: I think the prosperity gospel in general is — well I don’t know. I hear it too. I don’t know. I think what sometimes you see is it’s just all about money. That’s not what I believe. It’s the attitude of your heart, and so you know, we believe — but I do believe this, that God wants us to be blessed. He wants us to be able to send our kids to college, excel in our careers. But prosperity to me, Larry, is not just money, it’s having health. What good is money if you don’t have health?
KING: Also many in the Christian belief are wary of too much material, aren’t they?
OSTEEN: Yeah, I think some of them are. But to me, you know, I hope people get blessed if they can handle it right. Because it takes money to do good. You know to do things for people. To spread the good news. So I think it’s all a matter of your heart.
KING: You think other preachers are envious of you?
OSTEEN: If they are, I don’t feel it. I’ve got so many good friends. And the ones I know are encouraging me. I don’t hear anything but good things from them. I hope they’re not. Because we’re all in it together.
KING: You want to do this the rest of your life?
OSTEEN: I do. I do. I know it’s what I’m called to do. I feel like this is why I was born. Even though I never dreamed I’d be doing it. But I know now I never dreamed I’d be able to get to help people like this. I never dreamed it was in me. I didn’t know I could get up to speak in front of people and impact people’s lives. I didn’t know I could do that. I was shy.
KING: We’ll get to those seven steps in a minute. We’ll be taking your calls, as well. Don’t go away.
KING: Phoenix, Arizona. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry. You’re the best, and thank you, Joe — Joel — for your positive messages and your book. I’m wondering, though, why you side-stepped Larry’s earlier question about how we get to heaven? The bible clearly tells us that Jesus is the way, the truth and the light and the only way to the father is through him. That’s not really a message of condemnation but of truth.
OSTEEN: Yes, I would agree with her. I believe that…
KING: So then a Jew is not going to heaven?
OSTEEN: No. Here’s my thing, Larry, is I can’t judge somebody’s heart. You know? Only god can look at somebody’s heart, and so — I don’t know. To me, it’s not my business to say, you know, this one is or this one isn’t. I just say, here’s what the bible teaches and I’m going to put my faith in Christ. And I just I think it’s wrong when you go around saying, you’re saying you’re not going, you’re not going, you’re not going, because it’s not exactly my way. I’m just…
KING: But you believe your way.
OSTEEN: I believe my way. I believe my way with all my heart.
KING: But for someone who doesn’t share it is wrong, isn’t he?
OSTEEN: Well, yes. Well, I don’t know if I look at it like that. I would present my way, but I’m just going to let god be the judge of that. I don’t know. I don’t know.
KING: So you make no judgment on anyone?
OSTEEN: No. But I…
KING: What about atheists?
OSTEEN: You know what, I’m going to let someone — I’m going to let god be the judge of who goes to heaven and hell. I just — again, I present the truth, and I say it every week. You know, I believe it’s a relationship with Jesus. But you know what? I’m not going to go around telling everybody else if they don’t want to believe that that’s going to be their choice. God’s got to look at your own heart. God’s got to look at your heart, and only god knows that.
KING: You believe there’s a place called heaven?
OSTEEN: I believe there is. Yes. You know, you’ve had a lot of the near-death experiences and things like that. Some of that is very, to me, not that you need that as proof, but it shows you these little kids seeing the angels and things like that.
KING: We’ll take a break, and when we come back, the better half, Victoria, will join us. Don’t go away.
The Word says that there is only one God. (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10-11; John 4:24; James 2:19: Revelations 4:2-8) And only one way to God, through the Lord Jesus Christ. (John 10:9, 14:6; Acts 4:10-12; 1 Corinthians 1:24; Colossians 3:17; Phillipians 2:9-11) Jesus Christ is the only name that now saves us.”Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12) Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) We are told to do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:17) Are you going to believe in Joel Osteen or God. Belief in His word is tantamount to acting upon it. If your serious about God you will repent, and then call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in your baptism, which is for the forgiveness of your sins. (See Mark 16:16; John 3:5; 6:29; Acts 2:38, 8:12-18; 10:36-48: 15:16-33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16; Ephesians 2:8-10; James 2:15-26; 1 John 3:15-18)