The Old Testament in the News: Joel Osteen and His Bible

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor
of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

I am always trying to find stories in the newspapers dealing with the Old Testament. I found this news story in The Daily Caller that should be read by all people who love the Old Testament.The story was written by Trystyn Bloom, a writer for The Daily Caller.

Below is an excerpt from the story that appeared in The Daily Caller on September 19, 2014

America’s Most Popular Pastor Doesn’t Know The Bible

Mega-church pastor Joel Osteen may lead the largest Protestant church in the United States, but a recent Facebook post shows he might need to go back to Sunday school.

A Monday post to his verified Facebook page [note: the Facebook page has been removed], Joel Osteen ministries, read: “God said in Numbers 11:23, `Moses, is there any limit to My power?’ He was saying, `Moses, you saw Me part the Red Sea, stop the sun for Joshua, keep three Hebrew teenagers safe in a fiery furnace, don’t you realize that I can bring water without rain?’ There’s no limit to God’s power.”

As of Friday afternoon, the post had over 317,000 likes and 52,000 shares.

There’s just one problem: According to the Bible, Moses was dead before Joshua asked God to stop the setting of the sun, and long before the three Hebrew youths were burned in the furnace.

The Old Testament Book of Joshua explains that God appointed Joshua as Moses’s successor after Moses’s death (the first sentence literally begins, “After the death of Moses.”), who led the Israelites into battle against the Amorites, during which he commanded the sun and the moon not to move. “So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies,” (Joshua 10:13).

The story of the “three holy children,” as the Hebrew youths are sometimes known, is told in the Old Testament Book of Daniel. According to the passage, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned around the 6th century B.C. (long, long after the projected time of Moses), ordered his people to worship a large golden idol, “and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace,” (Daniel 3:6). The three Hebrew youths refused to worship the idol and were thrown into the furnace, but were not burned.

You can read the article in its entirety by visiting The Daily Caller.

Osteen’s father was a student here at Northern Seminary. Joel Osteen, however does not have a seminary education and never received a divinity degree.

In previous posts I have written much about biblical illiteracy. Our churches today are confronting the problem of biblical illiteracy because people do not read the Bible. I am quite sure that Joel Osteen knows his Bible, but what he wrote about God’s conversation with Moses reflects a careless attitude in handling the biblical text.

It is this careless attitude that promotes biblical illiteracy. Because most people do not know much about the Bible, they will believe what their pastor writes or preaches about the Bible.

You can also read my previous post on Joel Osteen and my review of his book Your Best Life Now (New York: Warner Faith, 2004) by clicking here. In this post I mention another problem with his handling of facts.

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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3 Responses to The Old Testament in the News: Joel Osteen and His Bible

  1. Pingback: The Old Testament in the News: Joel Osteen and His Bible | A disciple's study

  2. Wally Fry says:

    You are so right. Biblical illiteracy is a huge problem in today’s church. And the solution is simple…we must read and study. If we don’t we will just believe anything we are told by our pastors and teachers. Thanks for that article.


    • Wally,

      I agree with you. There is no substitute for reading and studying the Bible. Biblical illiteracy is the reason many people abandon the faith: they are easily persuaded by what other people say.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Claude Mariottini

      Liked by 1 person

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