Joel Osteen, the “plastic man” who spews forth more heresies than Mohammed and praises Obama as a Christian, is being challenged by The National Enquirer for using his Houston megachurch to sell his books and make money.
The National Enquirer reports:
New York attorney Richard Garbarini claimed he’s blowing the whistle on the 51-year-old nicknamed “The Smiling Preacher.” Garbarini – who previously helped a band win a judgment from Osteen and his Lakewood Church for stealing their music – is calling for an investigation, charging that Osteen uses his charity to promote his for-profit books.
While the Houston-based ministry is listed as a non-profit, Garbarini said: “He’s leveraging the church as a money-making vehicle! The church pays (to air) his sermons, which are just de facto infomercials to promote his books. The Lakewood Church is a shell to funnel people to his website so he can sell his books.” Osteen’s latest title, “You Can, You Will,” was a hot holiday seller, and the Lakewood Church website prominently sells it along with Osteen’s past books, including five best sellers.
Daniel Borochoff, head of Charity Watch, a non-profit watchdog, said Garbarini is right to red-flag Osteen’s activities, if true. “A non-profit needs to be acting in the public interest and not in the private personal business interests of Joel Osteen,” he explained. “The church should benefit from the royalties of these books when they are shouldering at least some of the cost of promoting them. If it isn’t getting something back, it oughta be. It’s too much a promotional vehicle for him.”
It has been reported that Osteen stopped taking a $200,000 salary from Lakewood Church in 2005 and that his estimated net worth is $40 million. He also lives in a $10.5 million 17,000 square foot home with six bedrooms, six bathrooms, three elevators, five fireplaces, a guest house and pool house.
Lakewood Church takes in an incredible amount of money every week.
Chelsea Schilling points out:
The New York Times reported Lakewood Church – former home of the Houston Rockets – features a 16,000-seat arena, three enormous television screens, two waterfalls, enough carpeting to cover nine football fields, a café with wireless Internet access, 32 video game kiosks and a vault to hold the church offering. In March of this year, burglars reportedly stole at least $600,000 from the church safe, which was a portion of the donation from just one weekend of services.
Schilling also tried to get a statement from Lakewood Church on three separate occasions, but was disconnected. She also pointed out that the Church website was used to promote Osteen’s books, but does not state whether the money goes to Osteen or to the Church. However, she did not that Texas Monthly “reported that Osteen contributed, ‘a substantial portion of his earnings’ to the church,” which lends speculation that the money goes to Osteen and not the Church.
While having money and possessions is not sinful or criminal, how one obtains those things can be. The apostle Paul spoke of being content and that contentment was great gain (1 Tim. 6:6). Whatever a man has, whether a little or a lot he can be thankful to God for, but the real issue is whether or not he loves money more than he loves God and his fellow man (1 Tim. 6:10).
However, when it comes to false teachers like Joel Osteen, both the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter have words regarding such men. For instance, in the same context of 1 Timothy 6, Paul states in verse 3, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness.” This is the premise of where he leads into speaking about those who suppose that “gain is godliness.”
Indeed gain may be a result of godliness, such as in the case of Job. However, we should remember that even Job lost all he had at one point except for his nagging wife. Yet, the Bible tells us that he was a godly man.
Paul also warned the Ephesian elders about those that would come into their midst and seek to “fleece the flock” for their own gain.
Further, the apostle Peter, in his second epistle, exposed false teachers who come into the Church and they have two goals: Money and sexual favors.
“Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children.” -2 Peter 2:14
Many of us can recall several televangelists who fit the very profile Peter laid out. In fact, not only can you identify them by their conduct, but you can identify them by their message.
These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
In other words, they are full of hot air, but provide no gospel to set captive sinners free because they don’t know what it is to be free from sin.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, “To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual.”
Churches are also automatically exempt from taxes without any particular 501(c) affiliation.
Ex-Illinois deputy attorney general Floyd Perkins told the Enquirer, “Typically the person who runs the church writes the rules. My experience is that many people who participate have no idea there are no rules at all. It really becomes an ethical question rather than a legal one.”
Sadly, that is in part due to the fact that a plurality of elders should be teaching in the Church, not one man. That’s the way the Church in both the Old and New Testaments functioned. Second, Perkins hits at the heart of the issue and that this is a moral issue, but that does not necessarily mean that it is not a legal issue. After all, all law is based on morality.
Joel Osteen is a feel good preacher who never offends with the cross of Christ. He never brings the message of the Law of God to bear on sinners to point them to the gospel of grace and the saving power of Jesus Christ. He is not only a coward to do this, like so many in our culture today, but it is apparent to anyone paying attention that he is the very definition of the false teachers Peter had in mind when he wrote, “But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption.”
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