Fred Phelps and Joel Osteen have gotten a lot of press recently for the message they preach. Both loudly proclaim the message God has given them. They claim to speak for the same God yet preach very diverse messages.

phelps1.jpgThe Gospel According to Fred Phelps 

Phelps is the pastor of the tiny Westboro Baptist Church
(WBC) in Topeka, KS. Most of the seventy or so members of Westboro Baptist Church are related to Phelps. Phelps and his congregation have gained public attention for their antics at the funerals for servicemen.  According to Phelps, God is a just and vengeful God. Apparently, all who do not follow him are doomed to Hell.  At times WBC runs websites that contain lists of well-known people who have been condemned to hell for various sins. At one time Mother Theresa was on the list. He also accuses Billy Graham of being a false prophet. Note: I have not linked to any of the WBC websites due to the use of profanity and the offensive and volatile nature of the content. Also, WBC websites have a tendency to disappear.

The Gospel According to Joel Osteen 

osteen.jpgOsteen is the pastor of the Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. According to Outreach Magazine Lakewood is the largest church in America. He is known for his smile and positive message.  Osteen is author of the motivational books, Your Best Life Now and Become A Better You. According to Osteen God is a loving God who wants the best for us. When pushed by interviewers Osteen will not speak of hell or God sending people to hell.

The Gospel In Between Phelps and Osteen

According to Phelps God is angry, vengeful and abhors sin and sinners.  According to Osteen God loves and wants the best for us.  But who is right Phelps or Osteen? God is just and righteous. Phelps is correct that God hates sin. According to Romans 3:23 everyone including Phelps has sinned or is a sinner. No one measures up to God’s standards.  Romans 6:23 states that the consequence of is death but that is only half the verse. We also learn from this verse that God offers the gift of eternal life.  If God were only angry and unconditionally condemning all sinners to Hell, why would he provide a way out of eternal punishment? John 3:16-17 provides the answer, God loves people. Jesus came to the Earth to provide salvation not judgment. Osteen is correct that God loves us. God offers eternal life or salvation for all but He doesn’t force anyone to accept his gift.  He gives us the freedom to choose eternal life or reject it, the choice is ours (See Romans 8:1-4)

graham.jpgAnother well known preacher, Billy Graham offers a more balanced view presentation of the Gospel in Steps to Peace With God.

31 thoughts on “The Gospel Between Fred Phelps and Joel Osteen

  1. I think Frank Phelps is right: There is a Hell and it is a real place. And, Joel Osteen is right: You don’t have to go there! Phelps scares people, Osteen gives them hope!


  2. Don,

    Neither Phelps or Osteen preaches the “whole gospel”. Phelps preaches that very few people will actually go to heaven and that God is angry with everyone else and there is nothing that can be done about it. Osteen may personally believe that in salvation by faith alone but he refuses to say that.

    Salvatation is available for all but there is a consqeunce for rejecting Christ’s gift of Salvation.


  3. Excellent post! Phelps and Osteen only tell the parts of the Gospel. It seems that they tell the parts that suit them.


  4. This is the case in everything. We read what suits any of us for anything, religious or otherwise. It amazes me how radically different Protestant denominational thinking is.


  5. This is why I attend a Bible church – I want to know what it teaches, not someone’s opinion of it. It’s hard to get there, the many interpretations are usually in the way, but careful exegesis from an inductive, indepth approach help. I believe we can know the truth, in as far as it has been revealed, and that we are given the responsibility to teach the whole.

    BTW, Deezone, I’ve enjoyed reading your comments on the de-con site. What happened to Confused Christian?


  6. Michelle,

    Thanks for the input and compliment. Glad you enjoy reading my comments. I try to be respectful and leave the “preaching” to my own blog.

    Not sure what happened to CC.



  7. i agree with previous posts – neither preacher preaches repentance. there is a pivotal gap in their preaching.

    I used to belong to the AOG in Australia – no not Hillsong but similar and not once was i told about TRUE repentance just that if i prayed a prayer id be off to heaven and of course i had to give money.

    I now belong to a bible believing Christ centered god fearind church which preaches in context the good the bad and the ugly… and it is great!

    I have been challenged to pray for the phelps family and congregation, his recent attack on heath ledger left me rather upset and angry but i realised if i let anger get the better of me i am no better than him!

    Prayer is the only weapon we have against these incorrect preachers of the Word so lets use it!


  8. This is the sad reality about what is taught and what people will believe. I have been Catholic for 40 years and am just now stepping outside that box and realizing there is so much more God wants us to know. But as a Catholic, I only really ever knew what the Catholic church wants us to believe.


  9. Karen,

    I guess I have been around some very solid AOG churches that preach more than prosperity.

    Sounds like many believers you were never challenged to read the Bible for yourself. Back home there is a Catholic church where the priest preaches the Gospel & challenges members to read the Bible.


  10. As long as there is a hell, then Phelps is correct. Eternal punishment serves no purpose but revenge on the part of a god who cannot be hurt by us in any way except for his “honor”.

    If there is a hell, then your god is evil beyond measure.


  11. Robert,

    I disagree. Phelps preaches that those who are not his followers are doomed to hell. He preaches only of God’s judgement. God is just but also loving. Humans are seperated from God due to our sin problem. God has provided a plan of redemption for us. We are not doomed to hell. God freely offers salvation to all who are willing to accept it.


  12. Luckily, Phelps’ crazed rantings are pretty well discredited by even the most radical Christian sects. The man is a nut job, no question about it.

    I may not be a Christian, but I can still respect Christians no matter how strange I find their beliefs. Fred Phelps, though, is insane.


  13. Man, I didn’t realize that anyone outside of WBC actually thought Phelps was right. Dee, you hit it on the nose, Phelps and Osteen preach partial gospels, gospels that fit what they want to believe. Hell is real, and grace is real, and both are part of the message of the Bible and historic Christianity. To tear them apart is to preach something different than the Bible and historic Christianity teaches. Additionally, I do believe God is able to “hate,” as it is said in the Scriptures that God has hated. But, it is NEVER our decision to say who is or isn’t in that boat.

    Anyway, I don’t know if you listened to the interview over on my blog or not….you might find it interesting. And, Phelps first name is “Fred.” “Frank Phelps” is the name given to this funny mockery of the WBC.


  14. Alan,

    Thanks for correcting my mistake problem is fixed. I’ll check out the interveiw on your blog.

    I referenced Billy Graham at the end because I think he is excellant example of a balanced presentation of the gospel.


  15. Grace,

    Read your post. Try reading the entire Bible not just one verse.

    There is a hell. God does not send people to hell. Those who fail to accept God’s gift of salvation choose hel for themselves.



  16. God hates hell…but Jesus talked about it more than anyone else in the Bible. C.S. Lewis deals with the subject with humility and sincerity in The Problem of Pain. I would personally love to be an annihilationist, but after spending all last semester studying Edward Fudge, John Stott and Clark Pinnock’s works on the subject, I see that emotions cause forced exegesis for the annihilationist. The sentiment is understandable, but it can’t win out. Matt. 25:43–Heaven and Hell juxtaposed, both given the same duration by our God, Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


  17. Satan says: “You shall surly not die.”

    God says: “The soul that sins shall die.”
    And again: “Fear the One that can destroy your soul (not merely your body) in hell.”

    for it is written: “Wide is the path that leads to … DESTRUCTION!”

    Cease from repeating the lies of the serpent saying that you shall surly not die, even if promised that you will perish if you believe not upon Jesus and accept His everlasting life.

    Seek wisdom.

    aka GraceHead


  18. Trent,

    Read the entire post before, my response to your 1st comment before making judgments about what I believe, write or teach.

    Cease from repeating the lies of the serpent saying that you shall surly not die, even if promised that you will perish if you believe not upon Jesus and accept His everlasting life.

    Have you read the entire post, other things I have written in Religion.

    For more about salvation please refer to the section The Gospel Between Phelps & Osteen. It contains a concise presentation of the Gospel. I have also written about salvation in the following posts:

    Christmas Reflection
    True Meaning of Christmas
    Life is …

    Sola Fida,



  19. Trent, you might be gentle referencing people as Satan. We can disagree without going to that extreme.

    You should check the Greek words translated “destroy.” It is akin to “ruin.” It would be like saying “that kid on the four-wheeler drove through my yard and ‘destroyed’ it.” Am I lying since my yard still exists? No. Even in English a word like “destroy” means to ruin, or to cause something to cease to fulfill its purpose.

    I think you are misunderstanding Genesis 3, as well. God said “the day you eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall surely die.” I assume that God was telling the truth, and Satan was lying. So, Adam and Eve “died” the day they ate of the tree, following the lies of Satan. Obviously they didn’t cease to exist that day. They died in a real way–spiritually. This was the interpretation of virtually all of the church fathers. Your interpretation makes God’s statement “on that day you will surely die” a false statement, and Satan’s statement true.

    Dee, sorry to take over your thread…..


  20. Trent,

    We have saying in Texas that applies to your tactics. “You can catch more flies with honey than vinger.”

    Maybe your intentions are ok. However your methods are offensive. It is better to spend time in depth study exgeting passages in context that includes historical context & the context of the passage. Taking a few verses & deciding what the Spirit is telling you leads to what is referred to proof texting.

    You obvisouly read very little of my posts or other writtings before you made a judgement that was wrong.


  21. Dee,

    Alot of the AOG in Aust are jaded by the “hillsong” stigma, so sadly it is very hard to find one that isnt. If there was I would still be in the AOG, but sadly alot of Aust is sucked into the “give and get” mentality, sad but thats the way it is.

    I also didnt know anyone out of WBC agreed with phelps either. scary thought.


  22. Karen,

    What is the Hillsong stigma? I’m not familar with any of their teachings, just the music. Oh, BTW check out Sunday’s post about food. I would be interested to get your take on #5 on the list.



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