On December 23, 2007, reporter Chris Wallace
interviewed Pastor Joel Osteen on the Fox Television Network’s “Fox News
Sunday” program. Osteen, whose own television program is broadcast
worldwide each week and who pastors what is touted as the largest church
in the United States (Lakewood Church of Houston, Texas), was quizzed on
a number of issues during the interview.
Chris Wallace introduced Joel Osteen as a teacher
of “Personal growth and positive thinking” – buzzwords that make
biblical thinkers wary but exploring that must wait for another time.
Before long, the discussion turned to presidential candidates Mitt
Romney and Mike Huckabee and the controversy concerning Romney’s Mormon
beliefs. It was then that the supposedly Evangelical pastor of America’s
largest congregation declared that Mormons are Christians and that Mitt
Romney is himself a “Christian.” Here is the transcript. (1)
Wallace: “Is a Mormon a true Christian?”
Osteen: “Well, in my mind they are. Mitt
Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his savior and that’s what
I believe. So, you know I’m not the one to judge the little details of
it. So, I believe they are. And so I, you know, Mitt Romney seems like a
man of character and integrity to me and, ah, I don’t think anything
would stop me from voting for him if that’s what I felt like.”
Wallace: “So, so for instance when people
start talking about Joseph Smith, the founder of the church and the
golden tablets in upstate New York and ah, God assumes the shape of a
man; do you not get hung up in those theological issues?”
Osteen: “I probably don’t get hung up in ‘em
because I haven’t really studied ‘em or thought about ‘em. And ah, you
know, I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don’t know,
I certainly can’t say that I agree with everything I’ve heard about it.
But, from what I’ve heard from Mitt when he says that Christ is his
savior to me that’s a common bond."
As the exchange went on, I was struck by the fact
that Chris Wallace appeared to be far more knowledgeable about Mormonism
than did the pastor of America’s largest church. How sad. But the
question still remains: is Mormonism compatible with Christianity? Just
because Mitt Romney, Joel Osteen or anyone else claims that “Jesus
Christ is their lord and savior” does not automatically mean that they
are talking about the authentic biblical Jesus.
Let’s allow the words of the current Mormon
President, Gordon B. Hinckley, to educate us as to whether the Mormon
Jesus (and Mormonism) and the biblical Jesus (and Christianity) are one
in the same. After all, a person can sincerely believe in and place
their complete trust and confidence in a “Jesus” and then perish for all
eternity if the Jesus being worshipped is but a counterfeit. (See II
Corinthians 11:3-4.) What if the Mormon Jesus isn’t the biblical one?
President Hinckley, like all Mormon Presidents
before him, is revered by the LDS people as the mouthpiece of God and
referred to as “prophet, seer and revelator” for the Church. When
Hinckley addressed a gathering of 6,600 young Mormon missionaries
assembled in Paris in 1998, he was speaking in this capacity.
In their account of the event, the Mormon-owned news
agency, The Deseret News,
reported, "In bearing testimony of Jesus
Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say
Latter-day Saints ‘do not believe in the traditional Christ.' (Hinckley
said) ‘No, I don't.
The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of
whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed
in this the Dispensation of the Fulness (sic) of Times...In this
dispensation, the Lord has declared that this Church (Mormon) is the
only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth."
(1) (Emphasis added)
According to their own
Mormon Jesus is not the traditional Jesus and the Mormon Church is the
only “true and living Church” on the planet today!
Also, to clear up the
current public controversy between candidates Romney and Huckabee,
Mormon authority and First Council of The Seventy member, Milton R.
Hunter, made clear that in Mormonism Lucifer and Jesus are indeed
“He was called Lucifer,
son of the morning. Haughty, ambitious, and covetous of power and glory,
this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of
(Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, p.15)
The Bible teaches that
Jesus is divine and not angelic and that Lucifer (Satan) is angelic and
not divine. Instead, Mormonism proclaims that “God himself was once as
we are now, and is an exalted man …” and “… You have got to learn how to
be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all
Gods have done before you …” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,
p. 345, 348). Mormonism teaches that both Jesus and Lucifer became
“gods,” just as the central LDS teaching proclaims: “As Man is God
once was and as God is Man may become.” Can it be any clearer? The
“Jesus” taught in Mormonism is not the Christian Jesus. Period.
Taking biblical stands on issues such as Mormonism
seems to be at a premium today. Few leaders seem to have the courage to
present dogmatic positions when quarried on the realities of false
teachers and false teaching. Some misguided Christian leaders have even
gone so far as to apologize to Mormons for the likes of apologetically
minded Christians like me who have rightly identified Mormonism as a
false and worthless religion. Joel Osteen’s statements on Fox New Sunday
are a prime example of a Christian leader trying to straddle a dangerous
fence. By not wanting to take a position and thus separate himself (and
Christianity in general) from the most notable organized cult in America
today, Osteen is actually agreeing with a non-Christian religion whose
truly aberrant, cultic theology has trapped millions and blinded them
from the identity of the real Jesus.
Out of the fear of men or from the fear of lost
income, so many evade the questions or just give in to the pressure to
accept anyone who can spell Jesus as some sort of “Christian.” I admit
that it’s not fun when you are branded as a “radical” or
“Fundamentalist” in a negative sense or being accused of spouting “hate
speech” because you are defending the faith. Anyone who stands up for
biblical truth and sound doctrine is going to experience all of that
eventually. But whether it be on national television or one-on-one over
coffee, have we forgotten that God is listening to every slippery parsed
word we dare utter when trying to please everyone? The integrity of our
leaders must be questioned when they fail to enunciate biblical truths
in lieu of maintaining popularity. However, I am not completely without
grace here. Certainly, nobody is perfect, including yours truly. We all
have flaws and imperfections and I am acutely aware that God is
continually convicting and working on me. However, taking biblical
stands on unpopular issues is not one of my weak suites. I learned
a long time ago that those who try to walk in the middle of the road
usually are hit by cars coming from both directions!
In closing, allow this
dynamic quote from A.W. Tozer’s "The Old Cross and the New" to draw the
line between true courage and lukewarm compromise. The question is
which side will you stand on?
"We who preach the
gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to
establish good will between Christ and the world.
We must not imagine
ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the
press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but
prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum."
Click here to watch entire Joel Osteen interview on Fox News Sunday
Link to Mormonism segment of interview
(2) Note on Hinckley
quote: I personally found the article this quote came from in the LDS
Church News Archives, Saturday, June 20, 1998. Until mid 2007, this
article could be viewed at
it has since been moved. The article currently appears at:
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