As one of the most prominent faces in global religions, Joel Osteen is among the most adored and controversial Christian preachers in the world today. The senior pastor of the Lakewood Church, one of the largest churches in the US, has a wide reach that cuts across the United States and the world at large. He achieves this feat through weekly sermons televised to viewers in more than 100 countries.
A renowned author of seven bestsellers, Joel Osteen’s first book Your Best Life Now, published in 2004, debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. Over the years, he has gained a reputation as one of the champions of the prosperity gospel, a fact that has not only made him wealthy but brought its share of constant criticism and national controversy.
Joel Osteen: A Revolving Door of Criticisms and Controversies
Since Joel Osteen transformed his father’s ministry from a 5,000 congregation to a 50,000 congregation with global influence, there has been increased attention on him, as well as his ministry, and not all of it has been pleasant.
The Texas-born preacher has come under fire repeatedly for many reasons, including his renowned prosperity gospel, his wealth, and (lack of) philanthropy.
Joel Osteen’s rise to national and global recognition has been on the wings of the prosperity gospel he spreads. A movement in theology that emphasizes on tithes and offerings as critical tools in accessing God’s blessings.
The movement has been criticized for taking advantage of believers, many of whom are believed to have little to show for monetary obligations of the prosperity gospel. With Joel Osteen being a prominent face of the movement, he has come under fire for pushing a message many believe only benefits him as the leader of the church.
He’s Deemed Too Rich For A Preacher
With a net worth estimated between $40 to $60 million, Joel Osteen’s status has been one of the sources of criticism and controversy since he ascended to influential height.
Amassing his wealth amid extensive poverty has been considered antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, his defenders and admirers regularly note that he receives no salary from his church, and everything he owns was made from the sale of his books and speaking engagements around the world.
His Philanthropic Endeavours, Or Lack Of It
The most popular criticism and controversy that have plagued Joel Osteen involves his church, The Lakewood Church. After Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc in 2017, Joel Osteen and his church came under intense criticism on social media for not opening the church’s 40,000+ capacity to victims of the disaster.
Although Joel eventually opened his doors to victims, many pointed out the fact that it only happened after waves of attack and criticism. The incident deepened public dislike for the Texas-born preacher and his ministry, a feeling that has remained to this day.
However, despite a rising wave of disapproval for his message, Joel Osteen’s ministry continues to thrive, both at home and abroad. His books continue to appear among bestsellers, and his congregation increases in number with each passing year.
A Closer Look At His Family
Parents And Siblings
The Lakewood Church was established by Joel Osteen’s father, John Osteen. He was a former Southern Baptist pastor before he started the church in an old feed store. Under him, the church grew to a 5,000 congregation until he passed away from a heart attack in January 1999.
His mother, Dodie Osteen (nee Pilgrim), was the second wife of his father, following his divorce from Emma Jean Shaffer. She was married to John between 1954 and 1999, during which she gave birth to six children, including Joel. While she keeps a relatively low profile, Dodie is a published author. In April 2017, her memoir, If My Heart Could Talk: A Story of Family, Faith, and Miracles hit the stands.
Joel’s siblings, Paul, Lisa, Tamara, and April, are also involved in the ministry, as well as his half-sibling, Justin, who is known for his missionary work. Except for Paul Osteen, who is a vascular surgeon, medical missionary, and associate pastor at Lakewood Church, Joel Osteen’s siblings work behind the scenes in their father’s ministry.
Personal Life Of The Preacher
Joel Osteen is currently married to his wife of over three decades and partner in the ministry Victoria Osteen (née Iloff). The couple met back in 1985 when Joel came to buy a new watch battery from a jewellery store owned by Victoria’s mother.
The rest became history as the couple eventually tied the knot on April 4, 1987. Born in Huntsville, Alabama, Victoria moved to Houston with her family when her engineer father took up a position with the NASA Space Center in Houston.
Victoria Osteen is a co-pastor at the Lakewood Church and in 2003, she founded the Lakewood Women’s Ministry. Also, an author, Mrs. Osteen, released her first book Love Your Life: Living Happy, Healthy, and Whole in 2008. The book debuted at No. 2 of the New York Times Bestseller list.
Joel and Victoria Osteen have two children and have been married for over 30 years. Their first child – Jonathan, was born on April 20, 1995, while the next one, a daughter named Alexandra joined the family on November 9, 1999. Both of the Osteen kids studied at the University of Texas at Austin. Jonathan Osteen graduated in May 2017.
Origin Of The Divorce Rumors That Plagued His Marriage
Outside of the church-related controversies we talked about earlier, Joel Osteen and his wife, Victoria, have been at the centre of multiple divorce rumours. While that might suggest instability in the preacher’s home, that is far than the truth.
Not only are they still together, but they continue to do everything together, including travelling, preaching, and working in the ministry. This fact suggests they are happy and enjoying their marital life.
Talking about the cause of the repeated divorce rumours, the origin is unknown, and the accompanying facts are flimsy at best. Many admirers of the couple and their ministry believe the rumours are part of attempts to sow a seed of discord while some consider them secret truths based on the real state of the marriage.
Ultimately, there has been zero confirmation of the rumoured instability in their marriage and there are no issues that could potentially result in a divorce.