HOUSTON — Victoria Osteen, wife of megachurch speaker and author Joel Osteen, is standing by her controversial remarks that called upon congregants at Lakewood Church to “do good for your own self” because obedience, the church and worship are not for God as much as for self-happiness.
As previously reported, Osteen caused an online uproar in recent weeks when a video surfaced of the “co-pastor” and author of the book Love Your Life explaining to the thousands present the personal benefits that they would receive in doing good, which would make God happy.
“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—I mean, that’s one way to look at it—we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy,” she declared in the undated 36-second clip with her husband standing by her side and nodding. “That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy…”
“So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy,” Osteen continues. “When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”
Video footage of Osteen and reports surrounding her statements soon went viral, as many asserted that her teaching was unbiblical.
“She honestly believes that God exists to make us happy rather than holy,” Steve Camp, pastor of The Cross Church in Palm City, Florida and singer/songwriter, lamented. “She honestly believes that worship is about our fulfillment rather than His glory.”
Others defended Osteen, such as campus minister and blogger Morgan Guyton, who stated that she was “absolutely right if what she’s saying is that God doesn’t need us to worship Him for Himself, but He wants us to worship Him for our sake.”
In light of the controversy, Osteen issued a statement to The Blaze this week, outlining that while she could have selected her words more carefully, she would not recant the core of her message, which was that Christians can find personal benefit in worshiping God.
“While I admit that I could have been more articulate in my remarks, I stand by my point that when we worship God and are obedient to Him we will be better for it,” she stated. “I did not mean to imply that we don’t worship God; that’s ridiculous, and only the critics and cynics are interpreting my remarks that way.”
“Every Lakewood member knows what I was talking about because they have experienced first hand the joy and victory of a Lakewood Church worship service, and the honor, reverence and gratitude we show God,” Osteen added.
Camp told Christian News Network on Saturday that he believes that Osteen is attempting damage control as her “original thought was her true thought.” He remains in disagreement with her assertions.
“Victoria’s view of God is far too human,” he said. “She honestly believes in her original comment that somehow God is happy when we’re happy. She forgets that the defining mark and characteristic of our Lord is not happiness, it’s holiness.”
Camp stated that Osteen’s comments fall in line with the philosophy that she and her husband espouse, that you are to seek Your Best Life Now and Become a Better You.
“Victoria’s view of our God simply reflective of her own worldview of what Christianity should be about—becoming a better you, prospering yourself and being happy if you are truly following Jesus,” he explained. “But our happiness has little or nothing to do with the Christian life.”
The writer of songs such as Not About Us and Consider the Cost said that it is hedonistic—a doctrine that teaches that the chief end of life is one’s personal pleasure—to worship God or attend church for what man can obtain in return.
“Pragmatic culture today has tried to redefine worship as something that we get out of it, but it’s not,” Camp explained. “We don’t worship God so that we’ll become a better you. We don’t worship God so that we’ll have a better job, a better bank account [or] a better attitude. We worship God simply because he is worthy of worship. … That’s the only reason that we worship Him.”
“If we participate for a pragmatic benefit—to say, ‘Just worship because look how much better you’re going to feel’—that is minimizing the worth of a holy God and making self the benefactor of worship, when worship is simply the glorifying of God entirely,” he outlined.
Camp pointed to Romans 12:1 in reminding Christians that worship is not just a song that is sung, but how we live every moment of our lives. And as followers of Christ, we are to take up our cross and die to self daily.
“True worship is not just what happens on Sunday,” he said. “True worship is seven days a week, 24 hours a day—that we live on the altar before God in presenting our bodies as living sacrifices. And that is what is pleasing to Him.”