I recently had the opportunity to read through 904 of Joel Osteen’s Tweets on Twitter. Joel has been quite prolific, usually posting twice a day. His content is not about life events or personal anecdotes or what he is eating for breakfast, but rather each one is a microcosm of a spiritual truth that he is seeking to convey. He is proclaiming overtly theological things- truths about God and his character, as Joel understands it. These tweets were posted over the course of the last 15 months, which is as far back as I can see, and I read every one of them in sequence.
And so what can reading through almost a thousand tweets by the most influential and possibly most well-known pastor and spiritual leader in the whole world teach us about Jesus?
I say that because Joel Osteen does not talk about Jesus, to the point that I’m convinced that this glaring ommision HAS to be deliberate. It’s pretty much impossible at this point to not surmise that any mentions of Jesus Christ must be purely accidental, or that they somehow slipped through his filters of whatever staff member or social media guru is creating the content and manning his account.
Because here’s the thing: within his media empire, The Gospel of Jesus is nowhere to be found. Instead, the gospel of Joel Osteen, the “good news” that he brings is that “God loves you and wants to save you from a 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 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. There is something very important 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.
Here’s the thing though- It’s never really in a personal sense.
Joel talks about God, but its always in a vague amorphous sense. There is certainly nothing distinctly Christian or Biblical about it. There’s nothing doctrinal or theological specific about the way he talks about God. Rather is an ethereal, shapeless, formless, customizable, singular being that is out there called God that functions like a cosmic vending machine whose sole purpose is seemingly 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 I say “singular being”? Simple. While mention of a “God” may be plastered all over his twitter feed, as previously stated, 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. Let me give you some basic numbers
Of the 904 tweets that I read through, he mentioned “God” 378 times. Not a bad chunk of change and certainly a favored go-to thing to wax eloquent-ish on. His other themes were also fairly prominent. He spoke of “Destiny” and achieving it 66 times, attaining “Victory” 34 times, and achieving your Dreams 64 times.
Want to know how many times he mentioned Jesus?
Think of those ratios for a second. Think of the deliberateness that must be involved to essentially scrub Jesus from one’s feed over the course of a year and 904 tweets. How is it possible to have a 100 to 1 God/ Jesus ratio? It’s crazy to consider the effort involved in making it so, unless we want to go with the only alternative explanation that make sense: that Joel Osteen just doesn’t really ever think about or consider Jesus. In fact, the only time his name comes up is when inserting “God” in the point he’s trying to make doesn’t sound right, so he has to begrudgingly substitute it for the name Jesus.
100 to 1 ratio. That does not happen by accident.
But what are the outlier tweets that are about Jesus? Do they possess any soundness or clarity of doctrine? Do they betray a depth of knowledge or piercing insights into biblical truth- rightly diving the word of God to give an accurate explanation of spiritual realities?
So this is where we’re at. This means that America’s most influential pastor, the guy with the biggest Church [43,000 members], whose televised sermons are seen by almost 8 million viewers weekly and over 25 million monthly in over 100 countries, who is a five times New York Times Bestseller with book sales over 15 million, who is one of the most well-known and most recognized pastors with the biggest platform in the world, that out of 904 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 4.6 million followers…
Out of 904 Tweets, Joel Osteen mentioned Jesus in some capacity three times, and ostensibly taught us nothing about him at all.
For another side project of mine, visit Third World Osteen, where we apply Christless Osteen-isms to the poorest of the poor